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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘She was living the life that she deserved’: Maddie Mogen’s father braces for first Christmas without her

It was a normal Sunday for Ben Mogen.

He had taken himself out to see a movie Nov. 13 when Karen Laramie, the mother of his daughter, Madison Mogen, called. He texted her and said he’d call in a minute.

But then Ben Mogen’s mother called.

Those two things never happen back to back, he said.

“Just come over,” his mother said.

“I just had a feeling it had to do with Maddie,” Ben Mogen said. “On that drive over, I was thinking of all these terrible things that I was preparing for, and none of them prepared me for what they actually told me.”

Maddie Mogen; her best friend, Kaylee Goncalves; their roommate Xana Kernodle and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, were found stabbed to death in the girls’ home near the University of Idaho campus. Moscow police have yet to find their killer.

Ben Mogen called Laramie.

“We didn’t even know what to say to each other, we just both were sobbing,” he said. “We just cried together on the phone, I guess. There’s just no words for any of that.”

Mogen and Laramie were together for about five years. They lived in Oregon when Maddie was born, then moved to Coeur d’Alene. Eventually, the two split up but maintained a good relationship as Maddie grew up.

“She was smart and funny,” Mogen said of his daughter. “A real go-getter.”

As a child, she was easy to be around, never getting into too much trouble, he said.

“Everyone loved Maddie,” Mogen said. “If she was in the room, she would just shine.”

The Mogen family was close, often connecting through music. Everyone would get together with their instruments over the holidays.

During his darkest and most difficult times, Mogen would think about his daughter and how proud he was of her. She inspired him, he said.

Now, more than six weeks into the investigation, Mogen said it’s hard to move forward without knowing who killed his daughter.

“There were so many questions that I figured would be answered, and we’re still waiting,” Mogen said.

Investigators have gone above and beyond to keep Mogen in the loop, he said.

One of the lead investigators calls him every day, telling him if there is anything new and answers questions, Mogen said. If they don’t connect for a couple days, due to Mogen’s work schedule, the investigator worries and will call Mogen’s family to make sure he’s OK, he said.

If the investigator has a day off, he’ll make sure someone calls Mogen or will still call him anyway, Mogen said.

On the day of a vigil in Moscow for the four students, Mogen said investigators spent three hours talking to him.

The updates help Mogen stay away from the online speculation and gossip that have enveloped the case.

“It’s hard for me to read all of these articles,” Mogen said. “I can get all my news about it right from there (investigators), and I don’t have to try and drudge through all this misinformation.”

That misinformation is hurtful, Mogen said, but he understands that’s the nature of the world today.

“I just have to take the higher road on that kind of stuff or else it will be damaging to my well-being; I mean, it’s hard enough as it is,” Mogen said. “I’m just trying to get through these days one at a time.”

While the last six weeks without answers have been excruciating, Mogen said he has full confidence the killer will be caught.

“From the very beginning, I’ve known that people don’t get away with these things these days,” Mogen said. “There’s too many things that you can get caught up on, like DNA and videos everywhere. This isn’t something that people get away with, that goes unsolved.”

Due to the high-profile nature of the case, investigators have the best experts willing to lend a hand, Mogen said. Investigators have said they’re using resources from across the country, especially the FBI.

“I have to just know that they know what they’re doing, and if they don’t, then they know someone that does,” Mogen said of investigators.

Mogen is thankful investigators are willing to work around the clock, even during the holidays, to bring closure and justice for his family.

While they wait for answers, Mogen is getting ready to celebrate the first Christmas without his daughter, then days later attend her funeral.

Extended family is coming into town for the holiday and the service, which Mogen said will help. But it’s “a lot of mixed emotions.”

He just keeps thinking about how proud he is of Maddie.

“I am so proud to be able to say that she was my daughter and what she was doing with her life and where she was headed,” Mogen said. “She was living the life that she deserved.”

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