Xana Kernodle’s childhood best friend wants answers on killings

Idaho College Killings

(NewsNation) — The family members and friends of the Idaho victims are preparing for suspect Bryan Kohberger’s next court hearing this week.

Kohberger — a 28-year-old criminal justice graduate student — faces first-degree murder charges, accused of killing college students Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin on Nov. 13 in Moscow, Idaho.

Sydney Gribnitz was Xana Kernodle’s childhood best friend. Like many others closely following the case, she wants answers.

“I still think there are a lot of answers that I would like. Until I get those, I still am going to be a little hung up on this. So, it’s just about the answers, I guess,” Gribnitz said.

She was shocked to hear of her friend’s death.

“It definitely was a shock. We were really, really close in middle school, not as much recently. I guess just because I live in Florida. We were really far apart, but I always knew I could count on her. It’s just a lot,” Gribnitz said.

Gribnitz described Xana as a friend to everyone that had a shining personality.

“She was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. She walked into the room and it lit up,” Gribnitz said.

Now, Gribnitz and her dad, who was Xana’s former gymnastics coach, have started a fundraiser through their gymnastics academy in Florida to raise money for Xana’s scholarship endowment. Their team of gymnasts is also dedicating their season to Xana’s “immense talent” to keep her memory alive.

“Xana was one of our students for about six years. Besides that, she was also one of my daughter’s best friends. She was always at our house… It was almost like losing another daughter. It’s been a hard time for sure,” Todd McClean, Xana’s former gymnastics coach, said.

McClean says hearing about the arrest and seeing Kohberger’s picture on the news turned him “emotionally upside down.”

“It’s just unbelievable. You can’t even wrap your head around it. Being somebody so close and then the same age as my daughter, this could’ve been her. The difficulty of it is overwhelming at times,” McClean said.

McClean says their fund adds to the scholarship that Kernodle’s family has set up in her name at the University of Idaho.

The families are trying to come up with ways to turn the tragedy into some form of good. The Goncalves are in the process of setting up a foundation to help keep Kaylee’s memory alive.

This comes as we heard from Goncalves’ sister Alivea for the first time since Kohberger was arrested.

Alivea believes Kohberger may have been watching the investigation into the killings play out online.

“A lot of that comes from the fact that he had visited the home so many times before, late at night and early hours. He’s presented this pattern of behavior. He went back to the home the morning of, before police had been called, I think to see if his circus, so to say, had started to unfold. I think he would not have been able to refrain from engaging with the online communities, the theories, the conspiracies, and everything in between,” Alivea said.

Kaylee’s sister spoke exclusively with NewsNation on Sunday night, saying it’s terrifying that “true evil was watching” over the college students prior to their deaths.

Alivea also defended the surviving roommate, who police say was awake and saw the killer, but did not call for almost eight hours.

“She was probably really, really scared. Until we have any more information, I think everyone should stop passing judgments because you don’t know what you would do in that situation,” Alivea said.

Alivea says her family is starting to get to a place of being able to grieve, but she added that they have a long road ahead.

© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation