Ex-roommate of Idaho murders victims breaks silence for first time to reveal last text to friends

Ashlin Couch moved out of the home on King Road in Moscow, Idaho, just months before the murders

Andrea Cavallier
Sunday 12 May 2024 15:34
Former roommate of murdered University of Idaho students speaks out for the first time

A former roommate of the slain University of Idaho students has broken her silence for the first time, revealing the moment she realized her friends were dead and the final text she sent to them.

Ashlin Couch told KXLY that she moved into the doomed off-campus house on King Road in Moscow, Idaho, in 2020, with her friends Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen.

She moved out in May 2022 and Xana Kernodle took over the lease.

Six months later, in the early hours of 13 November 2022, Goncalves, 21, Mogen, 21, Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle’s boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death inside the student home.

Two other female roommates were in the home at the time but were unharmed. One of the survivors – Dylan Mortensen – came face to face with the masked killer, dressed in head-to-toe black and with bushy eyebrows, as he left the home in the aftermath of the murders, according to the criminal affidavit.

In an emotional interview, Ms Couch recalled the moment that she received an alert that continues to haunt her.

It was a message from the University of Idaho, alerting her to a suspected murder on King Road – the address that she had moved out of mere months earlier.

Ashlin Couch breaks her silence about the murders of her friends (KXLY)

She said she sent a final text to Mogen, asking: “Are you okay?”

“I remember, I think, getting a second alert or I had been driving home and I texted like our group of friends, and I just had said, ‘Has anyone heard from Maddie?’ And I remember, like my last text message to her was like, ‘Are you okay?’” she said.

“And I felt it like right then and there, I kind of just knew that something was wrong.”

She later learned what had happened to her friends.

Six weeks later, Bryan Kohberger, a criminology PhD student at the nearby Washington State University, was arrested at his family home in Pennsylvania and charged with the murders. He is accused of breaking into the home and stabbing the four students to death with a large, military-style knife.

Now, more than one year on, Ms Couch is still traumatised by what happened in what used to be her bedroom – and the thought that she could have been there when it happened.

“It crosses my mind more that that could have happened while I was there,” she said. “And, you know, you never know like how long someone is watching your house.”

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were killed in November 2022 (Instagram)

For months after the murders, she said she was scared to walk to her car in the dark.

Now, she works to raise awareness and educate students on social media safety.

“I couldn’t even walk to my car in the dark for months after, you know, it happened,” she said. “Like, you just want to at least feel a little bit safer. And if we can help college students do that and just create more awareness of that and just help them feel a little bit safer knowing that something like this had happened, I think is helpful in any way.”

Ms Couch said she also wanted to honor her friends. As co-founder of the “Made With Kindness” foundation, she helped create The Maddie Kaylee Scholarship fund to help support the lives of college students while spreading kindness and compassion.

“I want to, you know, spread some kind of message and start something, help people, you know, just do something more with this life that we are grateful to still be living,” she explained. “I just wish that I could do is just give her one last hug just to be able to say goodbye.”

Bryan Kohberger appears in court for a hearing in the murders case (AP)

In May 2023, Mr Kohberger declined to enter a plea in the case, prompting a judge to enter his plea as not guilty.

Idaho prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against Mr Kohberger.

In March, the Idaho Supreme Court denied a request from Mr Kohberger for his grand jury indictment to be thrown out.

A trial date has not been set.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in