The mother of University of Idaho mass murder victim Xana Kernodle is now locked up in jail and struggling to stay sober with no contact from her two surviving children, DailyMail.com can reveal.
It’s the latest in the series of tragic events for troubled Cara Northington, who revealed she suffered a relapse following her daughter’s brutal murder in November.
The 43-year-old is being held at Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene – 66 miles from where 20-year-old Xana, her boyfriend, and two housemates were killed on November 13.
She has been in custody on drug charges since February 24, after spending three weeks locked up 30 miles west in Spokane, Washington, where she had been staying in a ratty motel strung out on fentanyl and methamphetamines.
Cara Northington, 43 – the mother of slain Idaho student Xana Kernodle (right) – has been held on drug charges at the Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho since February 24, DailyMail.com can reveal
She is charged with two counts of drug possession
Northington is now confined to a cell with three other inmates on bunk beds at the facility where she only has daytime access to a TV often airing news about the savage killings – all while she undergoes drug withdrawals.
‘It’s a f**king nightmare,’ the grieving mother cried, during an exclusive phone interview with DailyMail.com from behind bars. ‘It’s a living nightmare.’
At night, she said, she can barely sleep as she replays the massacre in her mind and wrestles with personal demons.
Her time behind bars has also forced her to go through a painstaking withdrawal, with staff providing her nothing more than ibuprofen and Gatorade to soldier through.
‘That’s all they gave me,’ she said. ‘It was awful, absolutely awful, absolutely terrible, on top of everything else.’
The ordeal has left Northington to face her dark, new reality sober.
But she noted the one thing that keeps her going is not wanting to disappoint Xana, and her two surviving children, daughter Jazzmin, 22, and teenage son Elijah.
‘They are my strength,’ she said. ‘It’s one thing to lose a child, but when you still have two really great children, you have to pull it together for them, you know?’
Northington has struggled with drug abuse throughout her adult life and suffered the consequences, repeatedly arrested and jailed while alienating her own family.
She and Xana’s father, Jeff Kernodle, divorced in 2005.
But she told DailyMail.com that she was clean before the attack, working as a waitress and striving to make fresh inroads with her children.
Northington, who has two surviving children, including older daughter Jazzmin,22 (far left) revealed daughter Xana’s murder triggered her relapse
Northington has struggled with drug abuse throughout her adult life which saw her repeatedly arrested and jailed while alienating her own family
Xana and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin were both murdered as they slept at her off-campus rental house on November 13
She was planning to meet Xana for lunch in late October but said she had to postpone because she had a court hearing that ran late.
Xana, her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, and housemates Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21, were butchered in their off-campus rental home during the predawn hours of November 13.
‘She was a light in this world, you know?’ Northington told DailyMail.com. ‘She was just so funny. She could make everybody laugh.’
‘You send your kids to good schools, and you think they’re going to be safe there.
‘You don’t ever think they’re going to be murdered. You never think that’s going to happen to you,’ she added.
‘I relapsed after my daughter’s killing. Then four days after that, I got picked up on new charges.’
That was on November 19 when police in Kootenai County charged Northington with two counts of felony drug possession.
Out of mercy, authorities released her so she could attend a memorial for her daughter on December 2 at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls.
‘They let me out because of what happened, so I could attend her funeral and everything,’ she said. ‘And then I didn’t go to my next court date because I was still getting high.’
Soon after, a warrant was issued for Northington’s arrest. She went off the grid in Spokane but still couldn’t escape the news.
The University of Idaho massacre had become a national true crime obsession and the subject of nonstop media coverage.
Police arrested Brian Kohberger, a PhD student in criminology at nearby Washington State University in Pullman, on December 30, a revelation that was particularly startling for Northington whose older daughter Jazzmin is a senior studying marketing there.
Northington spoke to News Nation host Ashleigh Banfield in January over her lawyer Ann Taylor’s decision to drop her drug case to defend accused killer Bryan Kohberger instead
Attorney Taylor is seen with Kohberger on January 5 – the day she stopped representing Cara Northington
Northington has not only had to deal with the consequences of her drug addiction and the pain of losing a child but the media frenzy that has dragged her into the spotlight as well in recent weeks.
In January, the mom appeared on NewsNation where she publicly blasted the fact that Jazzmin was allowed to continue her studies at WSU alongside Kohberger even after he was identified as a suspect but before his arrest.
She also reacted to reports that Ann Taylor, the lawyer defending her on drug charges, had dropped her to represent her daughter’s accused killer.
‘I am heartbroken,’ said a semi-coherent Northington, speaking to host Ashleigh Banfield.
‘I trusted her. She pretended that she was wanting to help me… And to find out that she’s representing him – I can’t even convey how betrayed I feel,’ she added.
The lawyer would later explain that her name appears in nearly every document filed in Kootenai County criminal cases because she is the county’s chief public defender, but that she had never met Northington in person or offered her legal advice.
However, Northington told DailyMail.com that she now regrets that interview.
‘That was a big misunderstanding on my part, and I was kind of the victim of some kind of fake news,’ she said.
‘Hopefully that’s been straightened out now and people are understanding of that.’
On January 31, just five days after the Banfield interview, she was arrested for criminal trespassing in Spokane.
She spent the next 24 days in jail, before being transferred to the jail in Coeur d’Alene, her former hometown where Mogen and Goncalves also previously lived.
Northington is being held on $100,000 bond and says she is trying to keep to herself most of the time.
‘I just kind of hang out with myself, try to stay in my cell and read,’ she said. ‘I’m just trying to get through this.’
Northington said she needs therapy but isn’t getting any while in custody.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested at his parents’ home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, on December 30 and is due back in court in June. He is yet to enter a plea
PhD student Kohberger is accused of murdering Idaho students Maddie Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin in November
She also can’t even discuss her daughter’s murder case with fellow inmates because of a gag order imposed by the judge that extends to victims’ families.
‘I could talk about my feelings, my loss, but I can’t talk about what happened,’ she said.
‘It’s the worst place to be when you’re going through something like this. It’s the worst place possible that I could possibly be.’
Her cell gets unlocked during the day when she’s allowed to hang out in an adjoining rec room where there’s a TV.
‘It’s really hard going through what I’m going through, when the case is plastered all over the place,’ she said.
‘I haven’t watched any news. The last thing I heard was on Entertainment Tonight that they were going to demolish the house.’
She said neither of her surviving children have reached out since her arrest, but she still wants to be strong for them once she does get out.
She is seeking to enter a treatment program that would provide therapy as well as services to help her secure a job.
‘Obviously I need treatment and I need psychiatric counseling because of what happened,’ she said.
‘I just want to get sober for Xana and my other two living kids,’ she added.
‘She has a little brother who needs me and her older sister just lost her best friend and her sister so she doesn’t need to lose her mom too. And my son doesn’t need to lose his mom either.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk