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Idaho College Murders: Investigators Backtrack on Whether Four Students Were Targeted

CC BY 2.0 / Flickr / Jobs For Felons Hub / Police Crime Scene Tape
Police Crime Scene Tape - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.12.2022
In the early hours of November 13 four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in an off-campus house in the college town of Moscow. The victims were Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20.
Weeks following the brutal murders of four Idaho University students, police have yet to release the names of any suspects, and as local, state and federal law enforcement continue to investigate who is responsible for the murders, they have backtracked on some of their past statements relating to the case.
US media recently reported that officials investigating the case have been indecisive on whether or not the murder was an “isolated attack,” or if the residence itself was a target of the attack.
On Thursday, in their most recent statement, Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell told reporters: “We remain consistent in our belief that this was indeed a targeted attack but have not concluded if the target was the residence or its occupants.”
That statement contradicts officials’ earlier statement on November 15, when Moscow police had said the attack was believed to be isolated and targeted, and that there was no “imminent threat to the community at large.”
Investigators have not identified a suspect nor a murder weapon—which is believed to be a large fixed-blade knife based on autopsy reports—but thus far they have conducted 150 interviews and are reviewing 500 digital media submissions as well as 1,000 tips. Authorities have not ruled out the possibility the murders were conducted by more than one person.
On Wednesday, parents of the victims as well as students and faculty of the University of Idaho took part in a vigil to remember and honor the four victims: Goncalves was a senior general studies major and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, Mogen and Knernodle were both marketing majors who were members of the Pi Beta Phi. Chapin was a freshman and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and was majoring in recreation, sport, and tourism management.
“It’s hard that we are without these four beautiful kids with us tonight,” said Stacy Chapin, mother of one of the victims.
“We’re going to get our justice. We’re going to figure this stuff out,” Steven Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, said at the ceremony at the university in Moscow, Idaho. “This community deserves that.”
“They’re kind of just telling me that they can’t tell me much, which is frustrating,” Goncalves, who says he is desperate for information about his daughter’s murder, told reporters earlier.
"This is a criminal investigation so we can’t throw all of our cards on the table and tell everybody everything that we have," Aaron Snell, communications director for the Idaho State Police, told an American news outlet on Tuesday.
Police have ruled out several people who were tied to the victims the night of the stabbings. There were also two other roommates at home the night the four students were murdered, neither were injured and they are not believed to be involved in the crime, police said. One of the roommates had made a 911 call at around noon after she believed one of the victims was unconscious.
Chapin and Kernodle had been at a campus party the night before the attack, while Mogen and Goncalves were seen at a food truck at around 1:40 a.m. local time, which was recorded on a video livestream.
The stab wounds were “extensive,” said Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt, who added that the students were likely sleeping when the attacks began.
There was no sign of forced entry or damage to the home of the four college students. Two of the students’ bodies were found on the second floor of the house and the other two were found on the third floor. Goncalves' father said that his daughter and Mogen, who were best friends since childhood, died in bed together.
Idaho Governor Brad Little has directed $1 million towards the investigation in emergency funds, Moscow police said. The University of Idaho, which started Thanksgiving break just days after the four students were killed, has allowed students to finish the semester remotely if they are fearful of their safety.
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