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Services March 8 for Kilman

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | February 29, 2024 7:05 AM


A memorial service for Josiah Kilman of Columbia Falls has been set for 5 p.m. March 8 at the Canvas Church in Kalispell.

Kilman, 18, was allegedly strangled to death by classmate Charles E. Escalera, 21, in Kilman’s dorm room at the Campbellsville University campus in Kentucky on Feb. 24. Escalera was charged with murder and second-degree burglary, according to Taylor County records. The burglary charge stems from Escalera allegedly breaking into a home and stealing food after the incident with Kilman, according to the Associated Press.

Police found Escalera hiding in a barn later in the day of the incident.

A motive in the death has not been disclosed as of Thursday.

Columbia Mortuary is making arrangements for the service.

Kilman was a captain of the Columbia Falls soccer team his junior and senior seasons and a member of the wrestling team as well. Both teams won state championships with Kilman as a team member. He graduated in June, 2023.

He was a freshman wrestler for Campbellsville University.

Those who knew him described him as gifted, determined, magnetic. He was very outspoken about his faith, and was always comfortable sharing his beliefs. 

“What makes him a good captain, he could say the hard things to his friends,” Wildcat soccer coach O’Brien Byrd said, “Things that needed to be said but maybe weren’t a popular opinion or they didn’t want to hear it.”

“He was physically strong, he was an unbelievable wrestler and he had this physical power about him, but yet he was kind. He was gentle and he didn’t abuse that power. He realized he was in a position of strength, and it was strength to be gentle.”

Even as a teenage boy, sometimes goofy, “a wildman, a rascal, a stinker,” Kilman knew he was a role model to the young people around him and was a show of character for them to look up to. Byrd said you couldn’t pin down Kilman’s best friend, if you asked 40 people they would all say he was theirs. 

“His whole life, he wasn’t afraid of challenge,” Wildcat wrestling coach Jessie Schaeffer said. “Kind of everything a person looks for in a young individual to represent everything he believed in.”

“I know right now, today, there’s a lot of young individuals that are hurting and looking for answers, which to me, when you talk about legacy, leaving something behind… kids looked up to him in our program. They looked up to him as a person, they looked up to his character.”

A gofundme page has been set up to support the Kilman family, available at https://www.gofundme.com/f/josiah-kilmans-family-in-need-of-love-and-support.

Over $70,0000 has been raised for the Kilmans as of Thursday.