'It can happen to anybody:' Ethan Chapin parents speak out after Idaho student's murder

Ethan Chapin worked at Tulip Valley Farms; now his family is planting flowers in his memory

ByKayna Whitworth, Nicholas Cirone, Emily Shapiro, GMA
Monday, April 3, 2023
Idaho murder victim's parents speak out
Bryan Kohbgerger is accused of murdering four University of Idaho students last November in an off-campus home. Ethan Chapin was one of them.

MOSCOW, Idaho -- The family of Ethan Chapin, one of the four students killed in an off-campus house at the University of Idaho last November, is speaking out for the first time.

Nearly five months ago, the 20-year-old was murdered along with his girlfriend, Xana Kernodle, and her roommates, Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, "Good Morning America" reported.

"It's tough, tough not having him here. We get up watch the sunrise and drink coffee and cry in our coffee," said Jim Chapin, Ethan's father.

Ethan Chapin's parents, Jim and Stacy, are speaking out for the first time.

"I loved to hug him. I'd give anything just to be able to hug him," Stacy Chapin said.

Ethan Chapin was the eldest of triplets, and described as so full of joy.

He spent his last day on Earth with his siblings.

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The three can be seen in a photo from his sister Maizie's sorority formal.

Then he spent time with Kernodle, at his Sigma Chi fraternity, before heading to Kernodle's home at 1122 King St., where they were murdered just hours later.

That house is now set to be demolished.

"You think stuff like that never happens," Jim Chapin said.

"I'm telling you, if it can happen to us, it can happen to anybody," Stacy Chapin said.

Ethan Chapin's siblings, Maizie, and her brother, Hunter, are now back at school, preparing to graduate without their brother.

"Hunter was kinda Ethan's wingman," Jim Chapin said.

"I mean, you realize when you're a triplet, you have spent your whole life together, the three of them," Stacy Chapin said.

Stacy and Jim Chapin lean on each other in what they are calling a shuddersome year of firsts, doing things they've always done for the first time without Ethan, preparing for milestones.

"The one we have coming up first, 21st birthday," Stacy Chapin said.

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The two said it will be a "tough" and "tricky" time.

Ethan Chapin worked at Tulip Valley Farms, planting bulbs. Now he is being remembered with his own -- known as Ethan's smile.

"It's just turned into something so special, something tangible that represents him now," Stacy Chapin said. "There have been, right now, 80,000 bulbs sold."

The Chapins have big intentions to give back to both their communities in Skagit Valley, Washington, where Ethan Chapin grew up, and Moscow, Idaho, with scholarships funded by proceeds from the Ethan's Smile Foundation.

"We have created something that is good, Ethan would love. He loved people. He loved a great adventure, and he was inclusive. If we could touch as many lives as he touched in 20 years, in our lifetime, the world would be a better place," Stacy Chapin said.

And the family knows they have hard days ahead.

At the end of June, the suspect in the murders, Bryan Kohberger, will appear in court in his preliminary hearing.

Stacy Chapin said in the meantime, they've gotten messages from people who have planted the tulip bulbs, and watching them grow helps.