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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Roommate to Idaho student homicide victims speaks out, honors friends with charity event

By Kevin Fixler Idaho Statesman

The previously unidentified former roommate at the King Road house in Moscow where four University of Idaho students were killed in late 2022 has publicly come forward in her efforts to contribute to the lasting legacy of her friends.

Ashlin Couch, a winter 2021 U of I graduate and sorority sister to two of the stabbing victims, said she chose to speak out for the first time to honor the lives lost, and bring awareness to college students about being safe on social media platforms.

Couch’s mother, Angela Navejas, gave an interview earlier this year to the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press. But she did not disclose at that time that her daughter had been a prior roommate in the off-campus house on King Road.

Couch said in a new TV interview that it could have just as easily been her who was among those killed at the Moscow house in November 2022.

“It crosses my mind more that that could have happened while I was there, and, you know, you never know how long someone is watching your house,” Couch said in her interview with KXLY-TV in Spokane.

The four victims were U of I seniors Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21, junior Xana Kernodle and freshman Ethan Chapin, both 20. The three women lived in the house with two other roommates who went physically unharmed in the attack, and Chapin was staying over for the night with Kernodle, who was his girlfriend.

Bryan Kohberger, 29, an eastern Pennsylvania man who at the time was a graduate student at Washington State University in nearby Pullman, Washington, is accused of killing the four students. He was arrested almost seven weeks after the North Idaho homicides, and awaits trial on four counts of first-degree murder.

Kohberger moved to Pullman to attend a doctoral program in criminal justice and criminology in June 2022, according to a court filing from his appointed public defender. From the time Kohberger arrived in Pullman to the day of the homicides, police allege in a probable cause affidavit that he made at least 14 visits to the cell tower coverage area for the King Road house — including twice on the day of the students’ deaths.

Couch was the sixth person still on the lease at the King Road house. But she moved out in May 2022 and Kernodle took over her spot, she told the TV station. Couch was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority with Mogen and Kernodle, and the other two housemates. Goncalves was a member of the campus’s Alpha Phi sorority.

“It’s such an exciting time in your life, because you’re moving out and you’re actually in just a home by yourself,” she said in the interview. “… We were all so close.”

It is unclear which room in the six-bedroom, three-bathroom house Couch occupied while she lived there starting in 2020. Attempts by the Idaho Statesman to reach Couch and Navejas on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The U of I, which took ownership of the King Road property in February 2023, demolished the house in late December.

Text to Mogen: ‘Are you OK?’

On Nov. 13, 2022, the day of the homicides, Couch told the Spokane TV station that she recalled receiving an alert on her cellphone about the incident and reached out to check on Mogen.

“I had been driving home and I texted our group of friends, and I just said, ‘Has anyone heard from Maddie?’ ” Couch said as emotion built on her face. “I remember my last text message to her was like, ‘Are you OK?’ and I feel like right then and there I kind of just knew that something was wrong.”

Police arrived to the King Road house around noon that day and found the four students dead with multiple wounds from an edged weapon. A leather sheath for a combat-style knife was located next to Mogen’s body, the affidavit read.

Couch said she struggled after learning of her friends’ sudden deaths. She now lives and works in Southern California, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“I mean, I couldn’t even walk to my car in the dark for months after it happened,” Couch told the TV station.

Now, Couch and her mother have founded a nonprofit, the Made With Kindness Foundation, to raise money for outreach and a national scholarship fund. Couch said she wants to ensure her former roommates are remembered in a positive light, rather than the way in which their lives were taken.

“I want to do more,” she said. “I want to spread some kind of message and start something, help people, just do something more with this life that we are grateful to still be living.”

As part of that effort, they’ll host the “Make It Pink” Gala in honor of Mogen and Goncalves on June 15 at The Club at Prairie Falls in Post Falls. Admission to the dinner and silent auction range in price from $100 for a single ticket to $5,000 for a title sponsorship.

More than 17 months after their deaths, Couch still mourns the loss of her close friends. She told the TV station she would have hoped for a chance to see them a final time.

“That’s one thing that I just wish I could do one more time,” Couch said, “is just give her one last hug to be able to say goodbye.”

Kohberger is scheduled to appear in court again next week for two pretrial hearings. A date has not been set for his capital murder trial.