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‘Gifts to this world’: Family, friends and surviving roommates remember UI students at Post Falls celebration of life

Dec. 2, 2022 Updated Fri., Dec. 2, 2022 at 8:31 p.m.

A heavy police presence was felt at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, during the celebration of life service for the four University of Idaho students stabbed to death on Nov. 13.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
A heavy police presence was felt at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, during the celebration of life service for the four University of Idaho students stabbed to death on Nov. 13. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Family, friends and the North Idaho community gathered Friday to remember the four University of Idaho students who were brutally killed last month.

“The world is a darker place without them, but the light of their love and memories will always guide us all,” said Scott Laramie, who spoke with his wife, Karen Laramie, about their daughter, Madison Mogen.

The celebration of life for Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin was held Friday at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls. Hundreds of community members gathered to grieve.

The large church was surrounded by law enforcement, reminding attendees that the person who stabbed the four students to death last month remains unknown. Investigators have no suspects or people of interest in what they continue to call a “targeted” attack.

Mogen, 21, loved her friends, always keeping up with their latest exploits, her boyfriend, Jake Schriger, said.

“Maddie was the best at spreading love to all those who were close to her,” he said.

He remembered how Mogen and Goncalves, best friends since middle school, would try to one up one another by planning the biggest birthday celebrations they could for each other.

Schriger and Mogen went to high school together.

“Maddie was my best friend,” Schriger said through tears. “She was the first person I talked to every morning and the last person I talked to before bed.”

“I love you, Maddie,” he said before stepping off stage.

The entire Goncalves family, including Goncalves’ boyfriend, Jack DuCoeur, remembered 21-year-old Goncalves as a funny and competitive middle child.

Her nickname was K-Bug because of her loving way of bugging her little sisters and other family members.

“I just want to tell everyone, if you can learn from our disaster that we’re all working through together, you really just have to take care of each other. You’ve got to reach out and hug people,” father Steve Goncalves said. “Take advantage of every opportunity that you can tell your child you love them.”

Jazzmine Kernodle, 20-year-old Xana Kernodle’s older sister, remember her as positive, lighthearted, funny and wise beyond her years.

“Losing her is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and it has left me heartbroken,” she said.

Xana was a great friend, always bringing people together, her sister said.

“It made me so happy to know she had such great friendships,” Jazzmine said.

Chapin, 20, was Xana ‘s boyfriend, and seeing her in love made her family happy.

“I’m so glad she found love, because we all don’t really know what love is until we love,” said Kim Kernodle, her aunt . “As short as her life was, I’m glad she got to have that experience.”

Xana’s dad, Jeff Kernodle, said he’s taking solace in the fact that his daughter had become the woman she always wanted to be.

He visited Xana and her friends just days before their deaths. His daughter was mothering the group, making sure they got home safely. She had good grades, a loving boyfriend and tightknit friendships.

“Everything was just about as good as it ever could have been,” he said.

Chapin’s family, who already held his funeral late last month, was unable to attend the service. Hunter Johnson, a friend of Chapin’s, shared memories of the many rounds of golf the two played together.

Chapin had an “infectious personality,” always willing to belt out his favorite country songs, Johnson said.

In a statement read by a pastor, surviving roommate Dylan Mortensen said she remembered Chapin and Kernodle as “the perfect duo.”

“They both had this fun, passionate, crazy, but good energy,” Mortensen wrote. “They both were the kind of people who cared about everyone and would help anyone.”

Goncalves and Mogen were like sisters and second moms to Mortensen.

“They taught me a lot about how to be a responsible adult and also how to live life happy,” she wrote. “They changed the way I look at life and how to enjoy life to the fullest.”

Like Mortensen, Bethany Funke was home at the time of the attack but was unharmed. She also shared her love for her roommates and Chapin in a letter read during the service.

“I wish every day that I could give them all one last hug and say how much I love them,” she wrote.

She remembered Goncalves’ sense of humor and unstoppable drive. Chapin had a bright personality that uplifted everyone he met, she wrote. His loving spirit was best showcased in his love for Kernodle.

“The way you loved her was truly admirable and so special,” Funke wrote. “It made people believe in true love.”

Kernodle was the life of the party, drawing everyone, including the parents of her fellow college students, toward her. She had all the moms’ phone numbers, both roommates mentioned.

“There really wasn’t one person that didn’t love you and your amazing personality,” Funke wrote.

Mogen was the older sister Funke always wanted, she wrote.

“I always looked up to you so much,” Funke wrote. “You were always so organized, determined and had your priorities straight, and you always gave me the best advice.”

Family, friends and community members looked on as Funke’s words summed up the entire celebration of life.

“You all were gifts to this world in your own special way,” Funke wrote. “You will never be forgotten and will forever be in all of our hearts.”

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