What We Can Learn From the Worst

Opinion by Kayla Ross, Back Page Editor

Because I live in the U.S., I have become desensitized to mass killings. Shootings are part of my normal daily news briefing notifications. Of course, it’s something that causes me unease and is one of my biggest grievances with our nation, but these kinds of events don’t cause me to lose sleep anymore. 

On Nov. 13, 2022, Maddie Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were found dead at 1122 King Road, which was the college home of the three female victims. All four of these college students were seniors, only a few months away from starting the rest of their lives. 

Their deaths rattled people my age, and the aftershocks are still evident as new information is continuously released and their killer’s trial details continue to change. We became obsessed with their deaths, as video after video continued to go viral with the theories relating to the mystery behind the tragedy. 

I scrolled through their Instagram profiles for weeks, and I saw so many similarities to myself. Maddie Mogen wore Doc Martens with her skirts. Kaylee Goncalves was very intelligent and was graduating a semester early. Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin ordered Doordash after a party while they watched TikToks until 4:00 a.m. They all loved each other and posted a “family picture” style group photo on Instagram just days before four of the people in the photo would be dead. 

For whatever reason, these kids were singled out by a cold-hearted murderer. They were stalked, followed and attacked in their own home. This proved to many that college students are not safe and are far more vulnerable to crime than the average population. 

They were just like me. No different from Xavier students. They were targeted in their own home and killed in the most senseless way possible. Maddie and Kaylee were reportedly stabbed in Maddie’s bed at the same time, and Xana and Ethan were stabbed after what appeared to be a brutal fight against their killer. 

This haunted me and so many students because their names did not simply appear on a victim list on the news. Their lives were opened up by the world to find their story and find what led to their death. We learned so much about each of them and realized how dangerous just one man can be. For lack of a better word, this kind of heinous crime is humbling. It makes people feel helpless. If a man is in my home with a knife, do I lose? Is there no option for me besides death? 

For a week after hearing about the incident, I did not fall asleep until 3 a.m. every night. I was inconsolable. I watched every TikTok I could find with possible theories and information. I read every news update and police-gathered timeline. I bored my friends every day with my newest theory on who the killer was, why it certainly wouldn’t be the ex-boyfriend and why it couldn’t have been a random act of violence. 

The day the video of Bryan Kohberger’s arrest was released, I was not consoled. I almost felt worse. I had been driving on the exact highway in the same direction Kohberger was stopped on in the Indianapolis area, just an hour before he was arrested. 

Every week, I hear of students in the Xavier community who have had people lingering around their homes, opening doors and trying to get in contact with mostly female residents. We have to be diligent in our surroundings. Lock your doors, lock your windows and be careful when going out for the night. Look out for your friends and neighbors, and do not ever allow yourself to think this could not happen to you. We need to take care of each other and remember the dangers of being adults in our own homes. As students, we are more vulnerable than we think. The deaths of these students should serve as a continuous reminder of that.