With a killer still on the loose, residents of a small college community in Idaho are being warned to stay on high alert as authorities try to uncover how four college students were brutally stabbed to death in a home while two roommates were unharmed and a door was left behind wide open.
“We have no suspect at this time and that person is still out there,” Moscow police chief James Fry said Wednesday.
A murder weapon and motive have also eluded local police who are working with the FBI and state police to track down a suspect in the city of 25,000, which has not had a record of a murder since 2015, according to state police records.
“We can’t say there isn’t a threat to the community,” Fry said at a news conference Wednesday. “And as we’ve said, please remain vigilant, report suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.”
Police had previously said there was no danger to the community.
The new details about the investigation were released days after four University of Idaho students — Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves — were found dead at a bloody crime scene Sunday afternoon, raising a sense of security in the community near the Washington DC was broken. border.
“We are reviewing the videos collected, but we are asking citizens to contact us with any information you have that could help with this investigation,” Fry said, acknowledging that the crime has “affected all of us, the families, the University of Idaho, our community, our country and our officers.”
Classes at the University of Idaho have resumed since they were canceled Monday, university president Scott Green said.
“Some of our students still want to go to class,” he said on Wednesday. “They like being around other students. They find solace in interacting and keeping busy with their faculty, as well as attending classes and labs, some working on their semester projects, so we’ve heard from them.
The school encourages students and employees to take care of themselves as they head into Thanksgiving break, Green said.
The school has “continually pushed for as much information as possible, knowing that we cannot interfere with the important work of a proper investigation,” Green said in a statement Wednesday.
“We just want justice for these victims,” he said.
As the investigation progresses, police have begun to build a timeline of what happened in the hours leading up to the murders.
Chapin and Kernodle were at a party on campus Saturday night, while Mogen and Goncalves were at a downtown bar before they all returned home early Sunday — sometime after 1:45 a.m., Fry said.
Mogen and Goncalves were seen taking orders from a late-night food truck in Moscow that night, a live Twitch stream of Grub Truckers shows. The pair approached the truck at around 1:41 a.m., placed an order for food and were seen chatting to each other and other people while waiting for their order.
The two students did not appear to be in distress or danger, said Joseph Woodall, 26, who manages the truck.
All four victims were killed at some point on Sunday in the early hours of the morning, Fry said, but no calls were made until noon. All four victims were stabbed with a knife, he said.
The chief did not disclose who called 911.
Two other housemates were home at the time of the death, neither of whom were injured or taken hostage, Green said.
“We’re not just targeting them, we’re targeting everyone who comes and goes from that residency,” he said.
The two housemates have fully cooperated with law enforcement, Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell told CNN Wednesday.
After 911 came in about an unconscious person, officers found the door to the home open and a grisly crime scene.
There was no evidence of a break-in, Fry said. “We’re not 100% sure the door wasn’t locked, nothing was damaged and the door was still open when we got there,” Fry said.
There was “quite a lot of blood in the apartment,” Latah County coroner Cathy Mabbutt told CNN affiliate KXLY on Tuesday.
“It was quite a traumatic scene to find four dead students in a residence,” she said.
The autopsies could provide more information about what happened, Mabbutt said.
“There may be some, you know, some evidence from the suspect that we get during the autopsies that could be helpful,” Mabbutt said.
Just hours before their deaths, Goncalves had posted a photo of the foursome with the caption “a happy girl surrounded by these ppl every day,” with a heart emoji.
The 21-year-old from Rathdrum, Idaho, studied general studies and was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
Her older sister, Alivea Goncalves, 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.’
Mogen, 21, was from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and studied marketing. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
Chapin, 20, was one of three triplets, all enrolled at the University of Idaho, his family said in a statement. He was a freshman from Conway, Washington, majoring in recreation, sports, and tourism management. He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
“Ethan lit up every room he entered and was a kind, loyal, loving son, brother, cousin and friend,” said his mother, Stacy Chapin. “Words cannot express the heartbreak and devastation our family is going through. It breaks my heart to know that we will never be able to hug or laugh at Ethan again, but it is also unbearable to think about the horrific way he was taken from us.”
Kernodle, 20, was from Avondale, Arizona. She studied marketing and was a member of the student association Pi Beta Phi.
She was “positive, funny and loved by everyone who met her,” said her older sister, Jazzmin Kernodle.
“She was so breezy and always lifted a room,” said Jazzmin Kernodle. “She has made me such a proud big sister, and I wish I could have spent more time with her. She still had so much life to live. My family and I are at a loss for words, confused and eagerly awaiting updates on the investigation.”
She also expressed condolences to the other victims and their families. “My sister was so lucky to have them in her life.”