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University of Idaho Murders

Remembering the victims from the University of Idaho, and holding the defendant accountable


by Chelsea Plunkett

From Left to Right; Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, and Zana Kernodle (Picture credit: Alivea Goncalves)

Over six weeks after four University of Idaho students were tragically murdered at their shared home in Moscow, Idaho, a suspect has been identified and arrested.


On November 30, Bryan Koberger was taken into custody by Monroe County Police while visiting his parent's house in Pennsylvania. He is facing four charges of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.


Investigators found Koberger's DNA on a knife sheath at the crime scene. Investigators could match it to his father's DNA, which they obtained from the trash at the family's residence.


Koberger has waived extradition and is now being held in Moscow, Idaho. His preliminary court hearing is set for June 26, 2023.


Although a gag order has been issued on this case to prevent "investigators, law enforcement personnel, attorneys, and agents of the prosecuting attorney or defense attorney" from sharing information on the case, the affidavit, containing evidence against Koberger, has been released to the public.


At the time of the murder, Koberger was attending Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, to earn a Doctoral degree. Before studying at WSU, Koberger earned a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. WSU is about nine miles away from the University of Idaho, where the murders took place, in an off-campus home.



The mass stabbing victims on November 13, 2022, were Kaylee Gonclaves, Madison Mogen, Zana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin. They were all undergraduate students at the University of Idaho.


"It's just like a nightmare that you never ever wake up from… it's sickening," said Kristi Goncalves, Kaylee Goncalves' mother, on Fox News when asked about how the Goncalves family was coping with the loss of their daughter.


Kaylee Goncalves was a 21-year-old University of Idaho student majoring in general studies and had expressed interest in becoming a teacher. She has been described as authentic, social, and a best friend to Madison Mogen.


"They were just like yin and yang… it really worked out to where it was just a natural fit," said Steve Goncalves, Kaylee Goncalves' father, when describing the relationship the two girls had with one another.


Madison "Maddie" Mogen was born on May 25, 2001, in Eugene, Oregon, but her family later moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where she went to middle school and met Kaylee Goncalves.


"She [Madison] was my only daughter I ever had, so everything she ever did was such a big deal. She was just such a great kid, so smart and funny and beautiful," said Ben Mogen, Madison Mogen's father, in a heartfelt speech at the University of Idaho vigil. "When I would meet people, they'd say 'tell me about yourself'… and the first thing I'd say is ‘I have this daughter and she's on the Dean's List at college, she works hard’… I'd just tell them all about Maddie."


Madison Mogen was also close friends with Kernodle, both sorority members of Pi Beta Phi at the university.


Zana Kernodle, born July 5, 2002, was a marketing major at the University of Idaho. She grew up in Post Falls, Idaho, and was described as athletic, a lover of the outdoors, positive, and "never the type to get involved in drama."


"She opened her arms wide and let me in her life the day I met her," said Ava, a friend of Kernodle in an ABC News interview last month. "Her biggest joy in life was to be happy and to make others happy."


Kernodle's boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, was also at the residence, and was tragically killed that night. Much like Kernodle, Ethan Chapin loved the outdoors and was an athlete. He was studying sports management at the university.


"You name it- he played it. He would just play and do anything," said Stacey Chapin, Ethan Chapin's mom. "Our love language with him was sports. I literally follow NFL football so that I [could] have a conversation with Ethan… that and country music."


Ethan's love for country music also resonated with his many college friends.


"Our mutual love for country music is really what brought us together," said Peter, a fraternity brother of Ethan Chapin. "We'd gravitate toward each other because we'd be singing these country songs… we got really along."


The families and friends of the four slain victims have been working hard to ensure their loved one's legacy lives on and that justice is served.


"Justice doesn't have a room where you can read books, and you can go to school and you can have three meals, and you can have your vegan diet. To me, that's not justice," said Steve Goncalves in an interview with News Nation. "Justice is when you leave the planet and the whole world is able to rejoice and be glad that you are not there. We will forgive him. We will. We're not going to have that heavy weight on us… but he has to pay for what he's done."


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