Families of murdered Idaho students react to suspect’s arrest: ‘Little bit of weight has been relieved’

The families of the four University of Idaho students — Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Maddie Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20 — who were murdered last month are breathing a sigh of grateful relief now that their kids’ alleged killer has been arrested.

Take Goncalves’ father, Steve.

“To me, in my family, it feels like the first sense of joy that we’ve had in seven days. You know, you can’t even smile when you have this over your head. And it feels like a little bit of weight has been relieved and things are on the right track and we’re moving in the right direction,” he said Friday on Fox News’s “The Five.”

Moreover, despite previous complaints about the pace of local authorities’ investigation, Goncalves was suddenly and quite understandably extremely grateful for their work.

“The whole struggle of communication and everything has gotten better every step of the way. I want to commend those police officers and everything that they’ve done because it has been very difficult to work with all the media, especially me being so vocal. I think it’s gotten better, and I really appreciate that they’ve made some adjustments for our family, and we’ve noticed those things,” he said.


Steve also admitted that he hadn’t heard the alleged killer’s name, Bryan Kohberger, up until he was arrested early Friday morning.

“We had not. That’s just completely honest. Everything was kept under wraps. The investigation. Everything they could do keep this away from the public, to keep the jury untainted, do everything by the book, and I believe they’ve done an amazing job of that,” he said.

In a separate statement to the New York Post, Goncalves’ grandmother, Cheryl, also expressed relief, saying, “Of course we’re relieved. This is what we wanted. We wanted him [the suspect] caught and now we want justice.”

Chapin’s family is also breathing a bittersweet sigh of relief.

“We are relieved this chapter is over because it provides a form of closure. However, it doesn’t alter the outcome or alleviate the pain. We miss Ethan, and our family is forever changed,” the family said in a statement shared on Facebook.

“Over the last seven weeks, we stood by the Moscow Police Department, FBI, and Idaho State Police, confident they would solve this crime. So, when we received the phone call last night, we congratulated them for their diligent work and service,” they continued.

View their full statement below:

We are relieved this chapter is over because it provides a form of closure. However, it doesn’t alter the outcome or…

Posted by Stacy Wells Chapin on Friday, December 30, 2022


Last up is victim Maddie Mogen’s family.

“As a family we are happy to see Ben’s faith in the Moscow PD and the rest of the team justified. Today we are commemorating our Maddie’s and her friend Kaylee with relief knowing that she can now be properly laid to rest,” they said in a statement to CBS.

“Ben” is Mogen’s father, and the latter statement about commemorating Maddie and Kaylee was a reference to a memorial held Friday.

“A celebration of life will be held for Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen at Lake City Church in Coeur d’Alene on Friday afternoon. The service comes the same day that a cleanup will begin at the home on King Road where the two best friends, their roommate Xana Kernodle and Kernodle’s boyfriend Ethan Chapin were brutally stabbed to death back on 13 November,” The Independent reported earlier in the week.

Not much is known yet about the alleged killer, Bryan Kohberger, except for the stunning fact that he isn’t even a University of Idaho student.

“Kohberger is a graduate student at Washington State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. … In a Friday evening statement, the university confirmed Kohberger finished his first semester as a PhD student in the school’s criminal justice program earlier in December,” according to CNN.

“University police assisted authorities in executing search warrants at his office and apartment, both located on the school’s Pullman campus. … A CNN team earlier had filmed law enforcement agents outside a WSU graduate residence in Pullman that authorities said was connected to Kohberger. Pullman is about a 15-minute drive from Moscow, where the killings took place,” CNN reported.

It’s also known that he’d once participated in some weird Reddit discussion with former prison inmates as part of his research.


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