MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Jim and Stacy Chapin left the University of Idaho on Nov. 6, 2022, trading high-fives, the satisfaction sinking in that their triplets were “having the time of their lives.”
“We drove out of town that Sunday morning … and we literally high-fived each other that day,” Stacy recalled. “We literally congratulated each other. We were like, ‘We’ve done it, we’ve done it. They’re ‘adulting.’ They’re kind. We’ve done it. We can rest easy.”
There was no way they could have known what was coming.
Jim and Stacy Chapin pose with their triplets at the University of Idaho parent weekend in November 2022, one week before their son Ethan (second from right) was killed (Stacy Chapin)
Just seven days later, their 20-year-old son Ethan was brutally murdered alongside his girlfriend, 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, and her roommates Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.
Ethan (center), 20, was murdered alongside his girlfriend, 20-year-old Xana Kernodle (right) and her roommates Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Nov. 13, 2022 (Instagram/@kayleegoncalves)
Their murders and the aftermath captivated the country and rocked the Chapin family to its core, throwing them into the “depths of hell,” as Stacy describes it.
The Chapins are slowly emerging from those depths and breaking their months-long silence.
Jim and Stacy Chapin stand next to the tulip mix named in honor of their son at Tulip Valley Farms in Mount Vernon, Washington (Kelley Kramer for Fox News Digital)
Standing in a tulip field not far from where his triplets grew up in Skagit Valley, Washington, Jim fought back tears as he recalled the last time he spoke to his son.
“We said goodbye in the parking lot Saturday night,” Jim recalled. “Sigma Chi house. Gave him a hug. Told him to be safe. And that was the last time.”
“Depths of hell. We’ve been through the depths of hell.”
— Stacy Chapin
The Chapins aren’t angry, they insisted, although no one would blame them. Jim offered a firm and brief explanation about why.
“That’s negative energy, and it’s not worth it,” he said.
“It’s an honest answer,” Stacy added. “It’s a tough hand to be dealt, but we can’t change the outcome.”
The Chapin triplets pictured in April 2021, announcing they would be attending the University of Idaho (Stacy Chapin)
Instead, they’ve channeled their grief into a foundation in Ethan’s honor, ‘Ethan’s Smile.’ It started out at Tulip Valley Farms in Mount Vernon, Washington, where Jim and Stacy met with Fox News Digital.
Ethan worked for the owner of the farm during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020. After Ethan’s murder, the farm created the ‘Ethan’s Smile’ tulip mix. The Chapins launched the foundation with funds from the sales of the mix and bulbs.
‘Ethan’s Smile’ will fund scholarships for students in Skagit Valley, Washington to the University of Idaho.
The foundation is also what brought them out of five months of silence.
The Chapin triplets on their 18th birthday (Stacy Chapin)
After the murders, the Chapins locked down. Stacy, Jim and Ethan’s surviving triplets, Hunter and Maizie, shut in and spent two months together.
Etched deeply into Stacy’s mind was the vivid recollection of how they navigated through that challenging time.
“We just walked it out. Talked. Told stories. Cried,” Stacy said. “One day, I was out walking by myself. I was crying so hard. I happened upon somebody. And I thought they were going to call 911 on me.”
Hunter (left) and Ethan (right) Chapin with their father Jim (Stacy Chapin)
Now, they look for small victories in each day, like how the community at the University of Idaho has embraced them, recently making Jim and Stacy honorary graduates.
Another “big win” for the Chapins: Maizie was named the “sweetheart” of Sigma Chi, the fraternity Ethan belonged to. Her brother Hunter was there as she received the honor.
Maizie Chapin as the “sweetheart” of Sigma Chi at the University of Idaho (Stacy Chapin)
But they know it won’t all be easy.
“I just realized the next milestone is gonna be Mother’s Day. That’s going to be a tough one,” Stacy said.
Last year, Ethan celebrated his mom by sending her the new Morgan Wallen song, “Thought You Should Know.” Wallen wrote it for his own mother. The song includes the line, “All those prayers you thought you wasted on me must’ve finally made their way on through.”
“He was like, ’Mom, that’s pretty fitting for you,’” Stacy recalled. “It will now always forever be my most favorite song,” Stacy said. “You wish you could be like, ‘Hey, Morgan Wallen, let me tell you how much you’ve touched our life by that.'”
Maizie, left; Ethan, second from left; and Hunter, right, pose with their parents Stacy and Jim Chapin at Priest Lake in northern Idaho July 2022 (Stacy Chapin via AP)
The Chapins, though, do not live with “what-ifs.”
Jim says he has “no regrets whatsoever” as he remembers building sand castles with his kids when they were younger and cribbage tournaments in recent years.
“I can honestly say I don’t think we could spend more time with our kids and our family, and it’s because of that we don’t have that regret.”
— Stacy Chapin
Their family motto: Go big or go home.
They explained how they worked hard for the life they have. Jim has three kids from a previous marriage, but fertility issues plagued him and Stacy. Finally, in true “go big or go home fashion,” Stacy was pregnant with triplets.
“I thought it was an interesting gift,” Jim laughed.
The Chapin triplets as newborns (Stacy Chapin)
“We had to work hard to get those kids,” Stacy added.
Stacy gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mom, while Jim ran the family business.
The Chapin Family (Stacy Chapin)
Ethan’s accused killer, Bryan Kohberger, is due back in court in June. The Chapins do not plan on being there.
“Negative energy,” Jim offered.
The Chapins would rather you know this: Give your kids the gift of time.
“We spent 110% of our time with our kids,” Jim said.
“If we had a message to literally give anybody… I mean, I don’t think we missed a basketball game or a sporting event of our kids,” according to Stacy.
“They grow up so fast,” Jim added.
Jim and Stacy Chapin’s son Ethan was one of four University of Idaho students murdered last November (Hannah Ray Lambert for Fox News Digital)
“You never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball. … I think we got the worst curve ball,” Stacy reflected.
But, she still says, “I wouldn’t know what I know now and change the 20 years that I had.”