The lights flashed off in the Kibbie Dome as more than 1,000 people lit their phones towards the distant upper box where the families of the four murder victims sat. The only sounds through the stadium were the gongs of a bell as each victim’s name was read out, followed by a moment of silence:
- Ethan Chapin, 20, a freshman from Mount Vernon, Wash.
- Kaylee Goncalves, 21, a senior from Rathdrum.
- Xana Kernodle, 20, a junior from Post Falls.
- Madison Mogen, 21, a senior from Coeur d’Alene.
“What you are feeling is real,” said Blaine Eckles, dean of students at the University of Idaho. “… and it’s OK to have those feelings. I have them, too.”
Eckles was the first of many speakers at the vigil inside the iconic Vandal football stadium where people — including family members — gathered to say goodbye.
“That’s the most important message that we have for you and your families,” said Stacy Chapin, Ethan Chapin’s mother. “Make sure they spend as much time as possible with your people because time is precious and it’s something you can’t get back.”
Chapin was a triplet, whose two siblings still attend the University of Idaho. Stacy Chapin also said that their family is just like any other, and their family has each other’s backs, no matter what.
Kaylee Goncalves’ father, Steven Goncalves, told the story of Kaylee and Madison, who were best friends since the sixth grade.
“They came here together,” Steven Goncalves said. “They eventually get into the same apartment together. And then they die together in the same room, in the same bed… The beauty of those two always being together is something that will bring comfort to us to know that they were with their best friends in the whole world.”
Steven Goncalves also spoke about how terrifying it is, as a father, to lose a daughter; and that the eighth wonder of the world should be the relationship between a father and a daughter.
Ben Mogen, Madison Mogen’s father, said his life was defined by his daughter. “Ever since she was first born and when I meet people, I always say tell me about yourself,” he said. “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 and she’s worked hard, and she has all these great friends in the sorority. I just would tell him all about Maddie.”
Ben Mogen also spoke about how hard of a worker his daughter was, with stories of his daughter swooping in to help her mother with her hotel business, cleaning rooms when help was needed.
Ben Mogen also was mourning his daughter’s future, saying that one day, she might have married her boyfriend.
Xana Kernodle’s family was not able to attend the vigil. Her funeral in her hometown is scheduled for Friday.
At the close of the vigil, local pastor Karla Neumann Smiley gave a prayer for the Moscow community.
“As we go from this place, help us heal,” Smiley said. “Give us rest and give us continued compassion for one another.”
The vigil was held in conjunction with vigils across the state, as well as several online initiatives to support the Vandal community.
“Reach out to the support resources,” Eckles said. “Lean on one another.”
As classes resumed on campus Monday, Moscow police released no new details on the investigation into the deaths of the four students.
Abigail Spencer can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ABairdSpencer