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Community remembers slain University of Idaho students during vigil

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Fighting back tears, parents of slain University of Idaho students shared moments of laughter and sadness on Wednesday as students and faculty gathered for a vigil for the four lives lost.

The four students — Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Kaylee Goncalves — were found stabbed to death in their off-campus home on Nov. 13, and no suspect or suspects have been identified.

“We’re going to get justice, we’re going to figure this out,” Steven Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, said at the ceremony at the university in Moscow, Idaho. “This community deserves that.”

People hold up their phones during a moment of silence in Moscow, Idaho, on Wednesday.Ted S. Warren/AP

“It’s hard that we don’t have these four beautiful kids with us tonight,” said Stacy Chapin, Ethan’s mother.

Towards the end of the vigil, the lights darkened and the crowd held up their phones to show candles, or turned on their flashlights, observing a moment of silence.

The unsolved murders have left some students at the university, located in a town of about 25,000, and the community on edge. Police say the coroner determined the four victims were likely asleep when they were killed, but some had defensive wounds.

Madison Mogen’s father, Ben Mogen, said he spoke to everyone he met about his daughter, an only child. “The first thing I would say is, ‘I have a daughter and here’s a picture of her. She’s on the dean list at the university,'” Mogen said.

Mogen recalled that his daughter, who loved live music as much as he did, was upset that musician Mac Miller was coming to the area – but the tickets had sold out. He entered every radio station contest he could.

“And just like the night before it happened, I won four tickets and got to take her and her friends, and they were meet-and-greet tickets. We should go meet him after the show,” Mogen said. “That was the happiest memory I could think of, the one we shared together was that.”

More in-depth coverage of the deaths of four students in Idaho

Ethan Chapin, a triplets, loved country music and was close to his siblings — they even all had their wisdom teeth pulled together, his mother said.

“We are eternally grateful to have spent so much time with him,” said Stacy Chapin. She urged the public to make time for their loved ones, saying, “Time is precious and it’s something you can’t get back.”

Goncalves said his daughter Kaylee and Mogen’s daughter had been best friends since 6th grade.

“Then they went to high school together, then they started looking at colleges, they came together here. They end up together in the same apartment,” Goncalves said. “And in the end they died together.”

Goncalves said they were in the same bed, which is reassuring that “they were with their best friends all over the world.”

The family of Kernodle, who was a junior in marketing from Post Falls, was unable to attend the wake, said student counselor Blaine Eckles. Her family is planning a service for her on Friday, he said.

Multiple law enforcement agencies assist the police, including the FBI. Aaron Snell, an Idaho State Police spokesman, said 50 officers and detectives are on the scene and it is a “24/7” investigation.

“There are guys who worked day in and day out,” he said. “And we will continue to work on this matter until it is resolved.”

Mogen said he was thankful Madison had her first big relationship, with a “great guy” named Jake, and “she got to at least get a little taste of what it’s like to be in love with someone.”

“Maybe they would be married someday,” he said. “At least it seemed that way.”

Goncalves urged the people at the vigil to take the time to be kinder to one another and tell someone they are loved.

“The only cure for pain is love,” he said. “That’s the only thing that’s going to heal us, that’s the only thing that’s going to heal you.”

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