Investigators have no suspect in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students found Sunday in a home near campus.
Moscow police chief James Fry said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that detectives believe the killings were a “targeted, isolated” attack. But he stressed that they still haven’t found the murder weapon and have no suspect.
“We can’t say there isn’t a threat to the community,” Fry said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon attended by more than 40 local and national media members. “We still believe it is a targeted attack. But the reality is that there is still one person who has committed four very heinous, heinous crimes.”
Until the press conference, police declined to answer questions about the murders of 21-year-old Madison Mogen; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. Mogen, Goncalves, and Kernodle were roommates. The Latah County coroner ruled that all four deaths were homicides. Autopsies were performed on Wednesday, Fry said.
Other people were at home during the murders, at which point the police arrived on the scene. Fry said the people in the house were not injured in the attack. He declined to say if they could provide an account of the attacks.
On Saturday night, Chapin and Kernodle were together at another party on campus, Fry said. Mogen and Goncalves were together at a downtown bar and got home sometime after 1:45 a.m. Sunday, he said, confirming that the women had been seen on a Twitch livestream grabbing food from a local food truck.
Investigators believe the students were killed in the early morning hours of Sunday. The police were alerted at the house around noon on Sunday when someone reported an unconscious person.
Fry said the four students were stabbed with a knife, but police did not recover a weapon. He said there were no signs of a break-in and a door to the house was open when police arrived. There’s no evidence that anything went missing from the house, Fry said.
Fry said the people in the house were not held hostage during the incident. He declined to say who called 911.
Aaron Snell, communications director for the Idaho State Police, said the people in the home “fully cooperated with the investigation” and that investigators have not determined whether any weapons other than a knife were used in the attack.
Fry urged the community to “remain vigilant”.
“We all need to be aware of our surroundings and look out for each other,” Fry said.
He said 25 or more investigators from the Moscow Police Department, Latah County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Police and FBI are working on the case.
“We are providing whatever resources we can to ensure this comes to an end and that the person or persons responsible are brought to justice,” said Idaho State Police Col. and director Kedrick Wills.
University of Idaho students and families of the victims expressed frustration on Tuesday at the lack of information released to the public. Many students left Moscow early for Thanksgiving holiday.
“The reality is I probably should have been here a day or so ago,” Fry said. ‘But I’m here now. We stay here.”
Snell takes over communication about the incident.
UI President C. Scott Green said the university will support students who have decided to leave campus. He added that officials decided not to cancel classes because many students prefer to stay.
“To us, this crime and the loss of these young lives is just beyond comprehension,” said Green, who had to hold back tears before, at one point, wiping one away. “While our small community is certainly not immune to such things, it’s not a situation our tight-knit campus is used to.”
Green said the four students were “bright lights in our community.”
Some students who stayed in Moscow to attend classes said they wonder if they are safe on campus.
Blaine Eckles, UI dean of students, said the university has stepped up campus security patrols since the killings. Campus Security Officers are available to guide students around campus.
Investigators are continuing to gather evidence, watch videos and build a timeline of events, Fry said. He asked anyone with information pertinent to the case to call a tip line at (208) 883-7180.