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News / Northwest

‘There’s not much doubt’: Families of UI students react to suspect’s initial court appearance and new details released

By Emma Epperly, The Spokesman-Review
Published: January 6, 2023, 7:30am

MOSCOW, Idaho — After a seven-week wait, Ben Mogen finally read the details of how investigators believe they solved the killing of his daughter.

“I just got overcome with emotions,” Mogen said Thursday.

Court documents released for the first time Thursday described some of the evidence investigators have collected to charge Bryan Kohberger, the Washington State University graduate student accused of killing Mogen and three other University of Idaho students at an off-campus home.

Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene; Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, were stabbed to death Nov. 13 at the girls’ rental home.

Mogen said he received a copy of the affidavit ahead of Kohberger’s court hearing Thursday morning. He only made it through the first few pages of the unredacted affidavit before he broke down. Still, the document left him convinced that police zeroed in on the right suspect.

“There’s not much doubt,” Mogen said. “I think my family feels the same way.”

Mogen did not attend the hearing Thursday and doesn’t plan to attend future court hearings, saying it’s too difficult.

“It’s just so overwhelming to just even see that guy,” Mogen said. “I can’t imagine being in the same room as him.

“I think I’d be honoring Maddie more by living my best life out here and not letting that consume me.”

The Chapin and Kernodle families did not appear to be in attendance at Thursday’s hearing, either.

Sheldon Kernodle, a family member of Xana’s, asked people to think of the victims’ families in a Tweet following the release of the affidavit.

“Please think about our family and all the other families involved. Find ways to support them as well,” he wrote. “We must continue to remember the ones we lost. We have a long road ahead of us.”

He shared a link to the Xana Kernodle Scholarship Endowment, which the family recently founded in her honor at UI.

The Goncalves family did attend Thursday’s hearing, seated in the front row of the courtroom. Afterward, they stood tearfully behind their attorney, Shanon Gray, while he made a brief statement outside the courthouse.

“It’s obviously an emotional time for the family seeing the defendant for the first time,” Gray said. “This is the beginning of the criminal justice system, and the family will be here for the long haul.”