‘May their memories continue to inspire acts of kindness and selflessness’

University of Idaho holds candlelight vigil to honor lives of four students



Students and community members gathered on Wednesday, Nov. 30, to honor the lives of the four U of I students.


Around 1,000 students stood in Kibbie Dome at University of Idaho Wednesday night, silently waiting to honor the four students killed two and a half weeks ago. 

Blaine Eckles, UI dean of students, said despite the cold and the snow, a community came together to support the families of the victims in a candlelight vigil. 

“It is a sad and unsettling time right now. But a family will come together to find reassurance and comfort one another,” Eckles said. 

Eckles attended Ethan Chapin’s memorial; he heard stories from his life and received a bracelet that said ‘live life like Ethan,’ he said. 

“That is how we can honor the memories of our four lost Vandals,” he said. “Remember them in the good times, and do not let their lives be defined by how they died. But instead remember the joy they spread and the fun times they shared while they lived.”

Stacy Chapin, Ethan’s mother, said UI has a special place for their family, where Ethan and his two siblings, who complete the set of triplets, attend together.

When the family toured the campus for the first time, they knew it was home, Stacy said. 

She said the circumstances that brought everyone to Kibbie Dome are terrible, and the hardest part is that the outcome cannot be changed. 

“It’s important to share even some legacy to talk about the impact that he made in his 20 short years,” she said. “This is where we choose to focus our voice because we are now Ethan’s voice.”

Stacy said she is eternally grateful to have spent so much time together with Ethan and the Chapin family. 

“The most important message we have for you and your families is to make sure that you spend as much time as possible with those people because time is precious,” she said. 

Steve Goncalves, Kaylee Goncalves’ father, said Kaylee knew Madison Mogen since they were in sixth grade. Both are victims of the homicide. 

They went to school together and decided to attend UI together as well, Steven said. There was a beauty in them always being together, and they were always best friends. 

“They found each other. Everyday they did homework together, they shared everything together,” he said. “And in the end, they died together.”

Steven said one thing to help the pain get a little better is to support and hug each other because the only cure to pain is love. 

“I challenge you this week or today … to tell someone you love them,” he said. “That will make a difference.”

Ben Mogen, Madison’s father, said Madison was the first grandchild in the family and is his only child. 

Everything she did was a big deal for the family because she was a great kid growing up, Ben said. When she got older, Madison’s mom needed help with her housekeeping staff, so Madison and her friends got jobs as housekeepers. 

Madison also had a boyfriend, who was her only real long-term relationship, he said. 

“He’s such a great guy, and I’m so glad she got a little taste of what it’s like to love someone,” Ben said. 

Xana Kernodle’s family was not able to attend the vigil. 

UI President Scott Green said the losses of the four students weighs heavy on the community, their families and friends. 

Everyone attending held up lights on their phones as four lights were lit for each of the students, and the room was quiet as each of the lights were turned on. 

“May their memories continue to inspire acts of kindness and selflessness, and may we find peace,” Green said.