EXCLUSIVE: Ethan Chapin’s mother Stacy stunned a packed auditorium when she made an emotional surprise appearance during a forensics expert’s talk on the University of Idaho student murders Friday at a true crime conference.
Joseph Scott Morgan, a professor of applied forensics at Jacksonville State University in Alabama and the host of the Body Bags podcast, held a lecture titled “The Idaho Murders: An Expert Forensic Analysis.”
Based off of his experience as a forensic investigator and available documents in the case, he spoke for about an hour during one of 12 lectures, panels and presentations streamed exclusively by FOX Nation at CrimeCon 2023 in Orlando, presented by Oxygen True Crime.
The surprise came at the very end.
“I’m Stacy Chapin, and I’m Ethan’s mom,” she said, after waiting in line to take the mic during a question-and-answer period at the end of the presentation.
The crowd of about 3,200 in Florida gasped together, then began to applaud her. She said she didn’t sit through the presentation, it was too hard to watch.
“But I do want all of you to know that these were four of the greatest kids,” she said “And all of the great things that you read about them [are] legitimately true.”
In brief, emotional remarks, she appeared to wipe tears from her eyes and said she appreciated Morgan for opening with remarks on the four students.
“I can speak on behalf of my own son, who was an incredible human, and we miss them all terribly,” she said. “…They were amazing, amazing kids in the prime of their life.”
The moment was unplanned, both Chapin and Morgan told Fox News Digital on the sidelines of CrimeCon 2023 Saturday.
Morgan, who has been following the case for months, was shocked, he said, and his first thought was whether he’d been respectful enough during his speech. Relief came when she acknowledged he’d shown them respect, he said.
“I knew immediately that I needed to keep my mouth shut at this point, because this woman, more so than anybody at this conference relative to these Idaho cases, she deserved to have a platform,” Morgan said.
It was also a moment he said he’d never forget.
“It’s always been a challenge for me to hear people talk about Ethan who don’t know him,” Chapin said.
So she wanted to introduce herself to the speaker at the end of his session.
But then she saw the microphone.
“There was something…this overwhelming, I needed to say this story is real and that’s my son,” she added.
“CrimeCon was built to break down walls, allowing consumers of media to engage directly with those impacted by the cases they follow,” CrimeCon Founder and Executive Producer Kevin Balfe told Fox News Digital. “This was a powerful moment at our event, and we’re proud to have created a forum where these kinds of important conversations can take place.”
Ethan Chapin, 20, was one of your University of Idaho students killed in a home invasion stabbing at a house just steps off campus on Nov. 13, 2022. He was visiting his girlfriend, Xana Kernodle, 20 who lived there with a group of other friends including fellow victims Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21.
Chapin lived about 200 yards away, across the band field, at the Sigma Chi fraternity house and was spending the night. Chapin’s family set up Ethan’s Smile, foundation offering student scholarships after the crimes.
During her own emotional on-stage appearance Sunday, Chapin explained she and her husband set up Ethan’s Smile in order to give other students the opportunity they’d tried to provide for their son.
“It was really important for Jim and I to give our kids the opportunity to go to college and fulfill their dreams,” she said. “That’s the premise of our foundation, to give every kid who has a dream an opportunity to achieve it.”
Chapin said she’s planned a fundraising gala for Nov. 13 — exactly one year after the attack. Invitations went out over the weekend.
Ethan, who was studying recreation, sport and tourism management, would be 21 next month. He was a triplet. His parents plan to visit his siblings in Moscow to join them for their first legal drinks.
Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old who was studying for a Ph.D. in criminology 10 miles down the road at Washington State University, is charged with stabbing all four students to death in a 4 a.m. home invasion attack.
Judge John Judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf at his arraignment in May. A trial scheduled for October was postponed after Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial.
He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Fox News’ Jasmine Baehr and Mitch Picasso contributed to this report.
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