Police in Moscow, Idaho have released new details about the recent killing of four college students whose bodies were found together in a home near the University of Idaho campus on Sunday. The case has left many in the sleepy college town shocked and fearing for their safety, as students abandon the campus in droves to return to their families.
In a Tuesday press release, Moscow police said they believe the four students were killed with an “edged weapon such as a knife,” though they added that no weapon has been located so far. Police still have no suspects in custody.
Police said that autopsies of the four dead students will take place this week and will “hopefully provide more definitive information on the exact cause of the deaths.”
Police reiterated that they believe the quadruple homicide to be an “isolated, targeted attack,” that poses “no imminent threat to the community at large.”
Students from the University of Idaho and their parents have criticized the police response to the deaths over a lack of available information and fears that a violent offender is still at large on campus. Police have said that their preliminary investigation leads them to believe there is no broader community risk, but no evidence that supports this has been released to the public.
“Obviously, there’s no way police can say that there’s no risk, but what they’re seeing indicates that there’s not a risk that this person will randomly attack people,” said Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson in an interview with CBS News. Thompson added that there is a possibility the homicides were carried out by one or more people.
NBC reported that the University of Idaho felt deserted on Wednesday, with one student likening the atmosphere on campus to the early days of COVID-19 lockdowns.
The University of Idaho cancelled classes on Monday in the wake of the deaths and university president Scott Green asked professors to be “empathetic, flexible and to work with our students,” as many choose to leave campus early for the American Thanksgiving break.
So many students left that a candlelight vigil for the slain students, which was originally planned for Wednesday, was re-scheduled for after the holiday, according to an email sent by the dean of students on Tuesday.
Moscow police said in its press release that investigators are working to establish a timeline to re-create the victims’ activities on the evening on Nov. 12 to the early morning of Nov. 13. Thompson says this includes reviewing footage from a Twitch livestream that may have captured two of the victims chatting and grabbing food from a food truck hours before they were killed.
“They’re in the process of identifying the other people who were there” at the food truck, Thompson said, “and what sort of contact did they have.”
An unconfirmed video that was posted to Twitter by local TV reporter John Webb appears to show footage of two of the victims. A single man in a black coat, grey hoodie, black pants and black baseball hat seems to watch the two girls while they order food. (Global News is working with external video partners to verify the footage.)
— John Webb (@johnwebbtv) November 16, 2022
The bodies of the four students were found around noon on Nov. 13, after police responded to a report of an unconscious person.
- Ethan Chapin, 20, from Conway, Wash. Chapin was a freshman majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
- Xana Kernodle, 20, from Avondale, Ariz.. Kernodle was a junior majoring in marketing and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
- Madison Mogen, 21, from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Mogen was a senior majoring in marketing and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
- Kaylee Goncalves, 21, from Rathdrum, Idaho. Goncalves was a senior majoring in general studies and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
According to neighbour Ellie McKnight, who was also a friend of Chapin’s, Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle all lived together in the home where they were found dead. Chapin and Kernodle had been dating since spring, the report notes.
According to social media photos, the four students appeared to be close friends. On the day of their deaths, Goncalves, one of the victims, posted a picture to Instagram where she posed with the three other victims. In the photo, Mogen, who is wearing an “Idaho” sweatshirt, is sitting on Goncalves’ shoulders, while Chapin wraps his arm around Kernodle.
In the caption of the post, Goncalves writes that she is “one lucky girl to be surrounded by these (people) everyday .”
Fox News Digital reported that in September, University of Idaho students and staff were sent a community alert about a threatening person with a knife on campus.
The subject line of the Sept. 12 email was “Threat with Knife,” and said that “Moscow Police Department received a report that a group of students was walking between the Steam Plant parking lot (Lot #14) and the Student Recreation Center on Paradise Path and were threatened by a person with a knife.”
Fox News said a concerned parent of a University of Idaho student shared the email with them.
“No individual was harmed in the incident, but campus community members are advised to be cautious,” the email reads.
The suspect was described as a white man between the ages of 18 and 22 on a mountain bike wearing all-black clothing and a black baseball cap, the alert states.
Fox News asked Moscow police if the incident may be connected to the murder of the four students but they declined to comment.
“I have no information on that at this time,” said Capt. Anthony Dahlinger.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.