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Letters from surviving roommates read at church memorial service for slain University of Idaho students

Dec 5, 2022, 6:43 AM

(CNN) — At a memorial service for four University of Idaho students who were found stabbed to death last month, a pastor from an Idaho church read aloud letters from the surviving roommates, recalling their memories of their friends and sharing their sadness.

The service held Friday in Post Falls, Idaho, was organized because “the families have requested that this be a time to bring closure for the community,” according to the Facebook event page.

It’s been more than three weeks since the four students were found murdered in a shared home, and police have not identified a suspect or found the murder weapon, believed to be a knife.

During the live-streamed service, a pastor for Real Life Ministries read letters from the two surviving roommates, who police say were home when Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernolde’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, were killed.

Police have not released the names of the surviving roommates and CNN has not reported their names until now, when they were publicly identified in the letters read by the pastor.

One of the surviving roommates, Dylan Mortensen, wrote that Kernodle was “the life of the party” but also “strong, intelligent, hardworking and a beautiful person.”

Chapin was “sweet and loving” to Kernodle and also “like an older brother” to her, she wrote.

Mortensen called Mogen and Goncalves “the inseparable duo” who were like second moms to her, teaching her a lot about responsibility but also leading a happy life, according to the letter read by the pastor.

“My life was greatly impacted to have known these four beautiful people,” the pastor read in Mortensen’s letter. “My people who changed my life in so many ways and made me so happy. I know it will be hard to not have the four of them in our lives, but I know Xana, Ethan, Maddie and Kaylee would want us to live life and be happy and they would want us to celebrate their lives.”

Bethany Funke, the other surviving roommate, wrote Goncalves was one of the funniest people she’d ever known, “sweet and giving” and determined.

She said Chapin had “the brightest most fun personality,” that she was always impressed by Kernodle who was “loving, fun, energetic, funny, passionate,” and that Chapin and Kernodle’s relationship “made people believe in true love.”

Funke wrote that she always looked up to Mogen, who gave her the best advice and was always willing to help. Mogen made her life better by being her friend, she said.

Dozens of local, state and federal investigators are working to find the murderer, and they are starting to receive forensic testing results from the crime scene, law enforcement experts told CNN.

In a Saturday update, the Moscow Police Department said it has received more than 2,640 emails to a tip web address, more than 2,770 phone tips and more than 1,000 submissions to an FBI link.

Investigators have collected more than 110 pieces of physical evidence and roughly 4,000 crime scene photos.

The murders have unnerved the town of 26,000 residents, which had not recorded a murder since 2015. The four victims were likely stabbed multiple times in their sleep just days before Thanksgiving break, police have said.

The victims’ families and the public in general have criticized investigators for releasing little information, but police say releasing any premature hint to the public about a suspect or the various leads police are following can cause it to fall apart.

Police have ruled out as suspects the two surviving roommates who were in house at the time of the killings and other people inside the house when the 911 call was made. The person who made the 911 call alerting authorities to the home after the killings has not been identified.


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Letters from surviving roommates read at church memorial service for slain University of Idaho students