The mother of University of Idaho mass murder victim Xana Kernodle is incarcerated on drug charges, after going into a relapse following the murder of her daughter in November.
Cara Northington is now struggling to stay sober, with no contact from her two surviving children, DailyMail.com can reveal.
It is the latest in a series of tragic events for the troubled 43-year-old, who is being held at the Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene – 106 miles from where 20-year-old Xana, her boyfriend and two roommates were held. slaughtered on November 13.
She has been in custody on drug charges since Feb. 24, after spending three weeks locked up 30 miles west of Spokane, Washington, where she stayed in a run-down motel spiked with fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Cara Northington, 43 — the mother of murdered Idaho college student Xana Kernodle (right) — has been held on drug charges since Feb. 24 at the Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, DailyMail.com can reveal
She faces two counts of drug possession
Northington is now locked in a cell with three other inmates on bunk beds in the facility, where she only has access during the day to a TV that often broadcasts news about the brutal murders – while undergoing drug withdrawal.
“It’s a nightmare,” the grieving mother cried from behind bars during an exclusive phone interview with DailyMail.com. “It’s a living nightmare.”
At night, she said, she can barely sleep as she replays the carnage in her mind and struggles with personal demons.
Her time behind bars has also forced her to endure a difficult withdrawal, with staff giving her nothing more than ibuprofen and Gatorade to fight through.
“That’s all they gave me,” she said. “It was terrible, absolutely terrible, absolutely terrible, on top of everything else.”
The ordeal has left Northington to soberly face her dark new reality.
But she noted that the only thing keeping 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 kid, but when you have two more great kids, you have to get it together for them, you know?”
Northington has struggled with drug abuse throughout her adult life and suffered the consequences, being repeatedly arrested and imprisoned 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, worked as a waitress and aspired to break new ground with her children.
Northington, who has two surviving children, including eldest daughter Jazzmin, 22 (far left), revealed daughter Xana’s murder triggered her relapse
Northington has struggled with substance abuse throughout her adult life, being repeatedly arrested and jailed while alienating her own family
Xana and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin were both murdered on November 13 while sleeping in her off-campus rental home
She planned to meet Xana for lunch at the end of October, but said she had to postpone it because she had a court hearing that was overdue.
Xana, her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, and roommates Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21, were butchered in their off-campus rental during the early morning hours of Nov. 13.
“She was a light in this world, you know?” Northington told DailyMail.com. ‘She was so funny. She could make anyone laugh.’
“You send your children to good schools and you think they will be safe there.
“You never think they’re going to get killed. You never think that will happen to you,” she added.
“I relapsed after my daughter’s murder. Four days later I was arrested on new charges.’
That was on Nov. 19, when Kootenai County police charged Northington with two counts of drug possession.
Out of mercy, authorities released her so she could attend a memorial service for her daughter at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls on December 2.
“They released me because of what happened so I could attend her funeral and stuff,” she said. “And then I didn’t go to my next trial because I was still getting high.”
Shortly thereafter, a warrant for Northington’s arrest was issued. 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 attention.
Police arrested Brian Kohberger, a doctoral student in criminology at nearby Washington State University in Pullman, on Dec. 30, a revelation that was especially surprising to Northington, whose oldest daughter Jazzmin is a senior marketing student there.
Northington spoke to News Nation host Ashleigh Banfield in January about her attorney Ann Taylor’s decision to drop her drug case to instead defend accused murderer Bryan Kohberger
Lawyer Taylor is seen with Kohberger on January 5 – the day she stopped representing Cara Northington
Northington has not only dealt with the effects of her drug addiction and the pain of losing a child, but also with the media frenzy that has thrown her into the spotlight in recent weeks.
In January, the mother appeared on NewsNation, where she publicly cried out 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 responded to reports that Ann Taylor, the attorney who defended her on drug charges, had dropped her to represent her daughter’s accused killer.
“I’m heartbroken,” said a semi-cohesive Northington, speaking to host Ashleigh Banfield.
‘I trusted her. She pretended to help me… And to find out that she represents him, I can’t even convey how betrayed I feel,” she added.
The attorney would later explain that her name appears in nearly every document filed in Kootenai County criminal cases because she is the county’s leading public defender, but that she 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 a bit of a victim of fake news,” she said.
‘Hopefully that has now been rectified and people will understand that.’
On January 31, just five days after the Banfield interview, she was arrested for criminal trespass in Spokane.
She spent the next 24 days in jail, before being transferred to prison in Coeur d’Alene, her former hometown where Mogen and Goncalves also previously lived.
Northington is being held on $100,000 bail and says she tries to keep most of the time to herself.
“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 will not be given time in custody.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested Dec. 30 at his parents’ home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, and is due back in court in June. He has yet to file a plea
PhD candidate Kohberger is charged with the November murders of Idaho students Maddie Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin
She is also unable to discuss her daughter’s murder case with fellow inmates because of a court-ordered gag order that applies to the 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 I could be.’
Her cell is unlocked during the day if she is allowed to hang out in an adjoining relaxation room where there is a TV.
“It’s very hard to go through what I’m going through, when the case is plastered all over,” she said.
‘I haven’t seen any news. Last I heard on Entertainment Tonight they were going to demolish the house.’
She said none of her surviving children have been contacted since her arrest, but she still wants to be strong for them once she is released.
She is trying to get into a treatment program that would provide both therapy and services to help her get a job.
“Of course I need treatment and psychiatric help 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 have to lose her mother too. And my son doesn’t have to lose his mother either.’