Grieving family members of Ethan Chapin, one of four University of Idaho students killed late last year, are working to preserve the remembrance of his “one-of-a-kind” grin.
A tulip field where the 20-year-old homicide victim previously worked has developed a unique blend of tulips for yellow-and-white blooms dubbed “Ethan’s Smile” to collect funds for his parents’ charity.
“It’s Ethan smiling on us,” the murdered student’s mother, Stacy Chapin, told the “Today” program nearly five months after their son was slashed to death alongside his partner and two of her roommates.
“It’s just turned into something so special — something tangible that represents him now,” she told ABC News as she walked through Tulip Valley Farms in Mt. Vernon, Washington.
The mother stated that her son’s pals at the farm where he worked last summer were moved to pay tribute to their murdered buddy.
“Everyone wanted to work with Ethan,” she explained to “Today.”
“When [the murder] occurred, the kids realized they needed to find a way to honor him.”
Reese Gardner, a field laborer, characterized himself as “one of the lucky kids who got to work” for Chapin.
“He had the best smile — you couldn’t look at it and not smile back,” he said on the NBC program.
Tulip Valley CEO Andrew Miller said the homage was fitting because “tulips are iconic for Skagit Valley, and a smile is iconic for Ethan.”
“I will remember Ethan with a big smile standing in the tulip fields surrounded by people who know and love him,” he said.
More than 80,000 “Ethan’s Smile” light pairs have already been sold, with profits benefiting a charity established by Chapin’s parents to provide grants for students to attend the University of Idaho, where he was studying at the time of his death.
“We’ve made something good that Ethan would like,” she told ABC News.
Jim Chapin, Ethan’s father, battled back emotions as he remembered his son and his “one-of-a-kind” grin.
“It’s tough — it’s tough not having him here,” he admitted to ABC, adding that he often gets up to “cry in [his] coffee.”
According to Stacy Chapin, the charity will help carry on their son’s heritage of “touching people’s lives.”
“In our family, we say that if we touched as many lives as he did in his 20 years, the world would be a better place.” “He was a fantastic kid,” she said.
The bereaved parents are unable to discuss the case because a court imposed a stringent silence order after criminology student Bryan Kohberger, 28, was accused of the four killings.
They did, however, discuss how difficult the loss has been, particularly since Ethan was a triplet who did almost everything with his sister, Maizie, and brother, Hunter.
All three attended the University of Idaho and had been together before Ethan Chapin went to see lover Xana Kernodle in the off-campus Moscow house where they were slashed to death on Nov. 13 along with Kernodle’s companions Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen.
The triplets’ parents must now plan for significant milestones without Ethan, beginning with their 21st birthday later this year.
“I’d give anything to be able to hug him again,” his mother said.
The distraught father advised parents to “always hug your child” because “you think stuff like that never happens.”
“You think it happens to other people,” concurred his wife.
“I’m telling you, if it happened to us, it could happen to anyone,” she explained.
- $12,000 Discount Don’t Miss Out: Divi Black Friday Sale Revealed!
- The status of the University of Idaho killings one year later
- Idaho Murders: The 2022 Unsolved Case Continues Shocking Timeline & Arrest
- Idaho Murders: FBI’s 3D Crime Scene Imaging in Kohberger Case
- FBI Returns to Crime Scene: New Developments in Idaho Murders
- Lewiston Mass Shooter’s Disturbing Past Uncovered: What We Know