Police in Moscow, Idaho, on Wednesday tried to calm growing community concerns about the murder of four University of Idaho students — even as police said they had no suspect in custody and refused to provide the public with any further information.
“We hear you and understand your fears,” Moscow police said in a press release. “We want you to know that we, like you, are devastated and saddened by these young lives cut short needlessly.
“We established early in the investigation that we do not believe there is an ongoing threat to community members. There are indications that this was a targeted attack.”
That evidence has not been shared with the public and police said they shared everything they could without jeopardizing the investigation. Police also said they hope to have more information on Wednesday.
The statement comes days later the four students were found dead in an off-campus residence. No weapons were found, but police said preliminary information led them to believe a “sharp weapon” such as a knife was used in the quadruple homicide.
The killings and lack of information have baffled Moscow, a city of 25,000 on the border between Idaho and Washington. Residents there are worried and are “getting out of Dodge,” Latah County Deputy Sheriff Scott Mikolajczyk told the Idaho Statesman.
The University of Idaho identified the victims as:
- Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington, a college freshman majoring in recreation, sports, and tourism management and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
- Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona, a junior marketing major and Pi Beta Phi sorority member.
- Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a senior marketing major and member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
- Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, a general studies major and member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
Just hours before their deaths, Goncalves posted a photo of the foursome with the caption “a happy girl surrounded by these people every day,” and added a heart emoji.
Latah County coroner Cathy Mabbutt told CNN affiliate KXLY that she saw the grisly crime scene on Sunday night.
“There’s quite a bit of blood in the apartment and, you know, it was a pretty traumatic scene to find four dead students in a residence,” she said.
Mabbutt said the upcoming autopsies could provide more information about what happened.
“There may be some, you know, some evidence from the suspect that we get during the autopsies that could be helpful,” Mabbutt said.
Alivea Goncalves, Kaylee’s sister, sent a statement to the Idaho Statesman on behalf of her family and Mogen’s.
“They were smart, they were vigilant, they were careful and all this happened anyway,” she said. “No one is trapped and that means no one is safe. Yes, we are all heartbroken. Yes, we all grab. But stronger than all these feelings is anger. We are angry. You should be angry.’
Because of the killings, the city canceled its longstanding Artwalk festival “out of respect for the victims of this week’s tragedy on the University of Idaho campus and for those in the Vandal and Moscow communities united in mourning. ”