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Community mourns U of I students

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Staff Writer | November 17, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — By candlelight, in bitter cold, the friends and neighbors of four slain University of Idaho students wept and held one another.

They also smiled through their tears as they reminisced about their lost loved ones.

More than 200 people gathered Wednesday night at Independence Point to honor Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene; Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash.

Garrett Sciortino, 22, described Kernodle as his best friend during high school. He became emotional when he spoke of Kernodle, almost doubling over. But he couldn’t help but laugh when he shared stories about their time together.

“I know if she were standing here, she would want us to remember the good times,” he said.

Those good times included junior and senior prom, football games, road trips to see concerts and countless other memories Sciortino will always cherish.

“Xana, I know you’re listening right now,” he said. “I just want to tell you I love you. I always have and I always will.”

Sciortino also made a plea to law enforcement.

“We’re asking you to do everything in your power to bring the monster responsible to justice,” he said.

Moscow police said Wednesday that they have not yet identified a suspect in the quadruple homicide, which authorities have called an “isolated, targeted attack.”

Idaho State Police and the FBI are assisting local police with the investigation. Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Wednesday that Idaho Gov. Brad Little has assured him that all state resources are available to his agency.

Among the crowd at Independence Point was Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris, who also expressed a wish for swift justice.

“Kootenai County, the state and the nation mourn with the families and friends of the victims of this horrible criminal act,” he said.

Angela Navejas, who knew the students through her daughter and helped organize the vigil, led the mourners in prayer.

“We know the bright stars they were here on Earth,” she said. “They are up there looking down on us.”

She invited those gathered to share memories of their lost loved ones.

“She was a ball of sunshine,” Kirsten Rowley said of Goncalves, her former coworker at Dutch Bros on Northwest Boulevard.

Rowley described Goncalves’ enormous love for Mogen, her best friend since childhood. Weeks ago, Goncalves posted a series of photos on Instagram showing her and Mogen growing up together.

“My heart hurts so bad for the people who lost both of them,” Rowley said.

Amid her grief, Navejas said she felt thankful to have known the students.

“They were vibrant and wild, carefree and loving,” she said.

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Mourners raised their candles during a moment of silence Wednesday night. BILL BULEY/Press

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BILL BULEY/Press

People attend a vigil at Independence Point on Wednesday to honor the four University of Idaho students who died in Moscow this week.

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BILL BULEY/Press

A vigil at Independence Point on Wednesday honored the four University of Idaho students who died in Moscow this week.

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BILL BULEY/Press

A man holds a candle during a vigil at Independence Point on Wednesday to honor the four University of Idaho students who died in Moscow this week.

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BILL BULEY/Press

People attend a vigil at Independence Point on Wednesday to honor the four University of Idaho students who died in Moscow this week.

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