Fighting back tears, parents of slain University of Idaho students shared moments of laughter and sorrow Wednesday as students and faculty gathered for a vigil for the four lives lost.
The four students — Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves — were found stabbed to death on their off-campus home on Nov. 13 and no suspect or suspects have been identified.
“We’re going to get our justice, we’re going to figure this stuff out,” Steven Goncalves, the father of Kaylee, said at the ceremony at the university in Moscow, Idaho. “This community deserves that.”
“It’s hard that we are without these four beautiful kids with us tonight,” said Stacy Chapin, Ethan’s mother.
Near the end of the vigil, the lights darkened and the crowd held up their phones showing candles, or turned on their flashlights, as they observed a moment of silence.
The unsolved killings have put some students at the university, located in a city of around 25,000, and the community on edge. Police say the coroner determined the four victims were likely asleep when they were killed but some had defensive wounds.
Madison Mogen’s father, Ben Mogen, said he talked about his daughter, an only child, to anyone he met. “The first thing I’d say is, ‘I have this daughter, and here’s a picture of her. She’s on the dean’s list at college,’” Mogen said.
Mogen recalled when his daughter, who like himself loved live music, was upset that musician Mac Miller was coming to the area — but the tickets were sold out. He entered every radio station contest he could.
“And like the night before it happened, I won four tickets and got to bring her and her friends, and they were meet-and-greet tickets. We got to go and meet him after the show,” Mogen said. “That was the happiest memory I could think of, that we shared together, was that.”
More in-depth coverage of the deaths of four Idaho students
Ethan Chapin, a triplet, loved country music and was close to his siblings — they even all got their wisdom teeth taken out together, his mother said.
“We are eternally grateful that we spent so much time with him,” Stacy Chapin said. She urged the audience to make time for their loved ones, saying “time is precious and it’s something you can’t get back.”
Goncalves said that his daughter Kaylee and Mogen’s daughter had been best friends since 6th grade.
“Then they went to high school together, then they started looking at colleges, they came here together. They eventually get into the same apartment together,” Goncalves said. “And in the end, they died together.”
Goncalves said they were in the same bed, which is a comfort that “they were with their best friends in the whole world.”
The family of Kernodle, who was a was a junior in marketing from Post Falls, was not able to attend the vigil, Dean of Students Blaine Eckles said. Her family is planning a service for her Friday, he said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are assisting police, including the FBI. Aaron Snell, a spokesman for Idaho State Police, said there are 50 agents and detectives on the ground and it is a “24/7” investigation.
“There are guys that have been working just day in and day out,” he said. “And we will continue working on this case until it’s solved.”
Mogen said he was grateful that Madison had been in her first big relationship, to a “great guy” named Jake, and “she got to just have at least a little taste of what it’s like to be in love with someone.”
“Maybe someday, maybe they would have gotten married,” he said. “It seemed like it, at least.”
Goncalves urged the people at the vigil to take time to be kinder to one another, and to tell someone they are loved.
“The only cure to pain is love,” he said. “That’s the only thing that’s going to heal us, that’s the only thing that’s going to heal you.”