University of Idaho murder victim’s family ready to face suspect in court, vows to ‘make sure he doesn’t get away with it’

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(NEW YORK) — The family of Kaylee Goncalves, one of four University of Idaho students slain in a gruesome attack in November, vows to be there when her suspected killer returns to court next month.

“I can’t wait to see the evidence. … And then I’m gonna bring it,” Kaylee’s dad, Steve Goncalves, told ABC News. “And he’s gonna realize that this … is the family that’s gonna make sure he doesn’t get away with it.”

Kaylee, 21, was killed just weeks before she was set to graduate early from the University of Idaho and move to Texas for a new job.

In the early hours of Nov. 13, 2022, Kaylee; her lifelong best friend and roommate Madison Mogen; a third roommate, Xana Kernodle; and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, were stabbed to death inside the girls’ off-campus house. Two other roommates survived the shocking crime that garnered national intrigue.

After a six-week search for a suspect, 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger was arrested on Dec. 30. Kohberger, who was a Ph.D. student at nearby Washington State University at the time of the murders, has not entered a plea.

The Goncalves, a close-knit family with five kids, said they haven’t been able to establish any connection between their daughter and Kohberger.

“I’ve thought long and hard” about if Kaylee and Kohberger could have crossed paths, said Kaylee’s mom, Kristi Goncalves. “We’ve talked as a family, you know, we’ve done a lot of research on what’s out there. … None of it makes sense.”

As for rumors that Kohberger had attended a party at the girls’ home, the family doubts that ever happened.

“You’re not having just some random stranger at your party,” Kaylee’s brother, Steven, noted. If Kohberger had ever been at the house, “There’s plenty of things that would have quickly [been] noticed and [he’d be] removed from the party.”

Kristi Goncalves said when she saw Kohberger for the first time at an initial court appearance, “I was completely overwhelmed. I actually almost thought I was gonna pass out.”

“My daughter saw him face-to-face and in a very different light than we saw him, sitting there [in court], looking very meek,” she said.

The Goncalves family said they’ll be in court for Kohberger’s June 26 preliminary hearing and the ensuing trial.

“I think a big thing is for us to go in strong, united as a family,” Kristi Goncalves said. “I’ve never been to a preliminary trial before. … I have no idea what to expect, I have no idea what we’re going to hear. … But I know that I’ve got my son, and my daughter will be there, and my sister, and my husband.”

But Kristi Goncalves said she’ll try to avoid the courtroom during any graphic testimony.

“I’m not going to scar myself,” she said. “I have visions of my own that, you know, I have to deal with.”

Asked about any communications with the two roommates who survived the stabbings, Steve Goncalves said he spoke with one of them at a “celebration of life” event.

“We do have some family members that do reach out,” Steve Goncalves said. “It’s good to make sure that everybody going through this has somebody there to help them.”

In February, the University of Idaho announced that the house where the four students were killed will be demolished.

“I’m glad that somebody else isn’t gonna live in it,” Kristi Goncalves said.

But, she added, “It’s going to be very multifaceted for me, honestly, because my daughter lived in that home. She lived a happy life in that home, she loved living there with her friends. And for the real story, to be, like, what happened in that house was so horrific that it has to be torn down — that doesn’t happen that often. … For them to say, ‘No, we don’t want family in here, we don’t want anybody living in here. It’s got to be torn down’ — it’s definitely not happy.”

A memorial, including a garden, will be designed on the university’s campus in honor of the victims.

Graduation at the University of Idaho is this Saturday. The Goncalves will be there to receive Kaylee’s posthumous degree.

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