‘Lost four beautiful souls’: Parents of Idaho victims speak at vigil

(NewsNation) — The University of Idaho community gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to honor the four students stabbed to death in a rental home as the search for their killer continues.

Parents of the victims shared emotional tributes to their children.

“The hardest part — we cannot change the outcome,” Ethan Chapin’s mother said.

Steve Goncalves, the father of Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves, said he wanted people to understand what the victims’ families lost: “I hope to be able to make you laugh, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to cry. We lost four beautiful souls.”

Goncalves also revealed new information, stating that his daughter and Madison Mogen died “in the same bed.”

Ben Mogen, the father of Madison Mogen, spoke in support of her boyfriend Jake.

“I’m so glad that she got to have a little taste of what it’s like to be in love with someone,” he said. “I was proud to call him my daughter’s boyfriend.”

Dean of Students Blaine Eckles said authorities still don’t know how long the investigation will take, but he encouraged everyone to lean on one another and utilize the university’s resources. He said that “out of dark times, light can be found in the support we have for one another.”

University President Scott Green said the University is “touched by the outpouring of love and support and prayers we’ve received. … I want each of you to know, you’re not alone. There is hope despite the loss.”

Prior to the vigil, Aaron Snell, communications director with Idaho State Police, said, “Our detectives are on top of their game. We recognize there’s potential contingencies for everything, and so we’re working on that.”

Police were present at the vigil amid “community concern and fear” about the suspect not being caught yet.

In the aftermath of the stabbings, there has been an increased Idaho State Police presence on campus, and the university has upped its own security force, as well.

Several students who talked to NewsNation said they came back to Moscow to attend the vigil, but plan to return to their hometowns and continue classes online.

USA Today reported that the University of Idaho Water Center in Boise and College of Eastern Idaho campus are also having vigils.

The four University of Idaho students who died — Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21 — were all close friends and members of fraternities and sororities. Kernodle, who was roommates with Mogen and Goncalves, had been dating Chapin.

Preliminary findings by a counter coroner were that the students, found around noon Nov. 13, all died from stab wounds and were likely asleep at the time.

As of Wednesday, police still had no suspect or motive.

Police had the cars of the victims towed from the house Tuesday to a secure location, so they can process the vehicles for evidence.

So far, authorities have gotten thousands of tips, and have worked to dispel rumors surrounding the incident.

Officials have confirmed that they do not consider the following people suspects:

  • The victims’ two surviving roommates
  • A male seen in a food truck video circulating online
  • The private party who drove Mogen and Goncalves home
  • Anyone who spoke to the police dispatcher during the 911 call that morning
  • A male whom Goncalves and Mogen called several times that morning

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