‘How much I loved them’: Surviving roommates’ letters read at memorial for U of I victims

Candles and flowers are left at a makeshift memorial honoring four slain University of Idaho students outside the Mad Greek restaurant in downtown Moscow on Tuesday. Two of the victims worked at Mad Greek.

Two days after a vigil in Moscow, family and friends gathered again to remember the lives of four University of Idaho students killed in November.

The celebration of life took place Friday in Post Falls, where one of the victims grew. Letters were read from the two surviving roommates, and the boyfriend of one victim spoke for the first time.

The victims in the quadruple homicide on Nov. 13 were U of I seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, who were close friends; and junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, who were dating.

The four students were stabbed to death in an off-campus home. Nearly three weeks after their bodies were discovered, the Moscow Police Department, Idaho State Police and FBI have not named a suspect or found the weapon.

The cities of Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Rathdrum are each less than a 30-minute drive apart in Idaho’s Panhandle, while Mount Vernon is about 5 hours and 30 minutes from Moscow.

Jake Schriger, Mogen’s boyfriend, spoke at the event after staying silent in the weeks since the killings.

“None of these people deserved this,” said Schriger, who knew each of the victims. He talked about his first date with Mogen at The Breakfast Club in Moscow and how they grew to be each other’s best friends and eventually fell in love.

“She was the first person I talked to every morning and the last person I talked to before bed,” Schriger said. “She was the person that I loved most.”

At the memorial at Real Life Ministries, a youth pastor read letters from the two surviving roommates, Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke, who were in the house at the time of the attack. It was unclear whether the two were in attendance. Reporters were not allowed to access the event in person, and the victims’ families left without taking questions.

The Idaho Statesman previously had not named the surviving roommates.

Mortensen wrote about her close friendships with the four victims and how proud she was to know them.

“They changed the way I look at life,” Mortensen wrote. “I know it’ll 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. They would want us to celebrate their lives.”

Funke wrote that Mogen was the older sister she’d always wanted but never had. She said Mogen, her “big” in the Pi Beta Phi sorority at U of I, always made her feel special and included. She said life without Mogen won’t be the same.

“You always told me that everything happens for a reason,” Funke wrote of Mogen. “But I’m having a really hard time trying to understand the reason for this.”

Mortensen and Funke have been staying out of public since the killings. Police said they slept in until late in the morning after the attacks and discovered their friends unresponsive. Neither is considered to have anything to do with the homicides, and both have been cooperating with the investigation, police said.

“I wish every day that I could give them all one last hug and say how much I loved them,” Funke wrote. “I thought a lot about what I would say to each of them, if I could.”

Steve and Kristi Goncalves, Kaylee’s parents, spoke at the memorial alongside their other four children. Mogen’s father, Ben Mogen, and Kernodle’s father, Jeffrey Kernodle, also shared memories about their daughters.

Chapin’s family did not attend the memorial, mother Stacy Chapin confirmed to the Idaho Statesman. The family held a funeral service for Ethan Chapin on Nov. 21 in Mount Vernon.

‘They died together.’ Families, students gather across Idaho to remember U of I victims