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What we know: Police investigate University of Idaho killings

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It’s been more than a week since four University of Idaho students were found dead in a Moscow house. Since then, the Moscow Police Department and other agencies investigating the quadruple homicide have released a slow trickle of information to the public.

As of Monday evening, there is still no suspect in the slayings and police have yet to find the weapon.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry said last week that he cannot confirm there is no threat to the community and urged people to “stay vigilant” and “be aware of your surroundings at all times.”

Additional information on the case was released over the weekend and Monday, including people that Moscow police have cleared in the investigation and further details about the 911 call on Sunday just before noon.

Here’s what we know so far.

What is known about the fourth deaths?

The four victims in the early Sunday killings were U of I seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington.

All three women found dead were residents of the six-bedroom rental house on the 1100 block of King Road. The one man, Chapin, was dating Kernodle and was staying the night at the home.

The Latah County Coroner’s Office labeled the deaths as homicide by stabbing in a one-page report. Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that the weapon used would have had to have been “a large knife” and that there was a “fair amount of blood.”

The Statesman reported that police were searching for a “Rambo-style knife” and had visited several Moscow-area stores inquiring about various combat knives. One of the knives police were asking about was a Ka-Bar, which is a military-grade blade.

Mabbutt also has said that the four students were killed in the “early morning hours” Sunday. The coroner’s report did not include times of death, though Moscow Mayor Art Bettge previously told the Idaho Statesman that it happened between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Sunday.

When police responded to a call for an unconscious individual at the premises at around noon Sunday, they arrived at the house to find the four victims. Two victims were found on the second floor and two on the third floor, Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier told reporters on Sunday. Police would not say who was where.

Autopsies confirmed that all four died from multiple stab wounds and that all were likely asleep when the attacks first occurred. Some victims showed defensive wounds.

At a press conference Sunday, Fry declined to say whether the attack was carried out by a single person or multiple people, and could not say whether any of the four roommates was explicitly targeted.

boi topper 1116 am
The four victims in the mass killing at the University of Idaho pose for a photo recently with two friends, who the Statesman has not identified and chose to blur their faces. At top left is Madison Mogen, 21, who is on the shoulders of Kaylee Goncalves, also 21. Ethan Chapin, 20, has his arm around Xana Kernodle, 20, his girlfriend. Provided by Alivea Goncalves

Was anyone else in the house?

Two other roommates who lived at the house were there but were unharmed. Lanier said both women were sleeping on the first floor during the attack.

Moscow police released information in a Facebook post saying the two surviving roommates woke up Sunday morning and summoned friends to the house because they believed one of the second-floor victims had passed out and was not waking up.

At 11:58 a.m. Pacific time, the 911 call originated from one of the roommate’s cellphones, requesting aid for an unconscious individual. According to the post, multiple people talked to the 911 dispatcher.

Detectives have said they do not believe that any individuals at the house when 911 was called were involved in the crime.

What did the victims do the night before the killings?

Lanier gave a further update on what took place Saturday night leading up to the Sunday morning homicides.

Kernodle and Chapin had been at a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house — less than a mile from the house on King Road — and returned home at about 1: 45 a.m. Sunday. Goncalves and Moden had spent the evening at a bar called the Corner Club before stopping at a downtown food truck on the way home. Both girls also arrived home at around 1:45 a.m.

The two surviving roommates arrived home at approximately 1 a.m.

Multiple calls were made from Goncalves’ and Moden’s cellphones between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. to a male who did not answer. A sister of Goncalves, Avilea, said the calls were made to an individual named Jack who is a friend.

Who has been cleared?

Detectives do not believe that the two surviving roommates or any individuals summoned to the household on Sunday morning were involved in the crime.

The police also cleared a male singled out in surveillance footage of the Grub Truck food truck, the “private party” driver who took Goncalves and Mogen home early that morning, and the individual called by Goncalves and Mogen.

The Latah County Sheriff’s Office also said that a reported incident involving a dog attacked with a knife elsewhere in Moscow was unrelated to the homicides, though they have not said how they know that. The Statesman has reached out for more information.

Tips on relevant information

Detectives are asking anyone who observed suspicious behavior, has video surveillance or can provide relevant information about the deaths to call the case’s tip line at 208-883-7180.

The University of Idaho announced on Twitter that tips could be emailed to the Moscow police at tipline@ci.moscow.id.us.

The next police press conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. Pacific time in Moscow.

Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle
Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, two of the students slain at the University of Idaho, were known to be dating, according to Chapin’s mother. Maya Hippinstiel

Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen
Kaylee Goncalves (left) and Madison Mogen (right) were known as close friends. A combined GoFundMe page was set up for the two University of Idaho students, with proceeds to be split between the two women’s families. Maya Hippinstiel

This story was originally published November 21, 2022 6:51 PM.

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Shaun Goodwin is a service journalism reporter in the Pacific Northwest. If you like stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a subscription to our newspaper.
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