Huddled close together not only for warmth but for support on Wednesday evening, twentysomethings with tears in their eyes took a microphone to remember the four close friends killed near the University of Idaho over the weekend.
They approached a makeshift memorial to Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin slowly at first, then with stories that brought as much laughter as tears.
Marlee Lambert, a friend of Mogen’s at Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene, recalled a sleepover with Mogen and friends Lillian Bartkowiak, Niketta Janoski and Riley Walker when the girls snuck out to get a two-week old cat, unbeknownst to Walker’s mother, Molly. When that mom came upstairs to rouse the girls in the morning, Mogen was hiding the gray kitten under a blanket.
“This cat was 2 weeks old, and Maddie bought 10 cans of food for this cat,” Lambert said. “And she was like, ‘It’s on sale.’ ”
“It was very common to find Maddie over at my house after school, doing Riley‘s chores, so that obstinate Riley could leave and go hang out with the crew,” Molly Walker wrote in an email.
The girls, who stood with a couple hundred other young people at Independence Point in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday evening, said it helped to get out and hug their friends, all of whom knew the group.
“Everyone who was friends with one of them was friends with all the others,” Bartkowiak said.
Kirsten Rowley worked at the Dutch Bros. coffee stand on Hanley Avenue and Northwest Boulevard with Goncalves. Rowley had been scrolling through her texts after she heard the news Sunday.
“At the time, when we were really close and working, she was on a gap year, and she knew she was going to go to U of I,” Rowley said.
Goncalves offered to buy her friend a ticket to Cabo San Lucas.
“I was like absolutely not, I will never let that happen, I’m not going to accept that from you,” Rowley said. “She was like, please. I’m just going to spend the money on other dumb stuff. I want to live my life before I go to college.”
Rowley said Goncalves would check on her when she seemed off during a shift, or wasn’t as talkative.
Goncalves’ father, Steve Goncalves, said in a statement Wednesday that the perpetrator “needs to be punished and held responsible.”
“I want to know that my daughter is safe wherever she is,” Steve Goncalves said. “I want to never have someone experience what I am – and the rest of my family is – experiencing right now.”
“Myself and my family will not rest until Kaylee, Maddie, Xana and Ethan get the justice they deserve,” Steve Goncalves concluded.
The families of Goncalves and Mogen also established a joint GoFundMe, which had raised about $38,000 as of Wednesday evening.
Several speakers, interspersed with music from Taylor Swift – one of Mogen’s favorites – and others, said Kernodle was a free spirit. Emily Tran, who’d been friends with Kernodle since the fourth grade, paused frequently to wipe back tears as she shared a story about visiting Kernodle in Moscow a couple of years ago and the two attending a party.
“I have many stories of her,” Tran said. “She impacted my life a lot and everyone around her. She was just a ball of joy. She had no care in the world at all.”
Tran said on another visit Chapin had offered to watch her dog overnight, calling him “a very sweet guy.”
In a statement prior to Wednesday afternoon’s news conference, Chapin’s family said he “lit up every room he walked into and was a kind, loyal, loving son, brother, cousin and friend.”
“Words cannot express the heartache and devastation our family is experiencing,” Stacy Chapin, Ethan’s mother, said in the statement.
Chapin, 20, was a triplet from Mount Vernon, Washington, where he played boys basketball, football and tennis for the Bulldogs. He was a freshman member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, studying recreation, sport and tourism management, the university said. The family said the whole set of triplets – Ethan, Hunter and Maizie – attended the University of Idaho.
Hunter Chapin said in a statement: “We are triplets and it’s hard to imagine life without him.”
A memorial for Ethan Chapin will be 4 p.m. Monday at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon, according to an obituary. The family asked attendees to “Please wear blue, it was Ethan’s triplet color.”
In an interview with King5 News, Ethan Chapin’s parents said their three children celebrated their 20th birthdays about a month ago.
Stacy Chapin said Ethan was the comedian of the family and loved country music and sports.
The Chapins visited their children during UI’s parents weekend Nov. 4-5.
“When we pulled out of Moscow, we really felt like we had done the job. We actually did it as parents,” Sue Chapin told the station. “We’ve created three incredible people who will go on and have something great to offer the world.”
The Sigma Chi fraternity established a GoFundMe account that had raised more than $24,000 as of Wednesday evening.
A GoFundMe in Kernodle’s name had raised more than $30,000 as of Wednesday evening.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately report the location of a sleepover Mogen had with her friends.
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