Authorities in a small Idaho town that hadn’t recorded a murder in years are urging the public to be alert to rumors and speculation surrounding the unsolved murder of four college students last month.
The stabbing deaths at a Moscow home near the University of Idaho’s main campus on Nov. 13 have been shrouded in agonizing mystery, prompting apprehension in the campus community as the suspects remain at large.
“There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts,” the Moscow Police Department said in a press release on Friday. “We encourage referencing official releases for accurate information and updated progress.”
Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kernolde’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, were likely stabbed multiple times in their sleep days before the Thanksgiving holiday, police said. The horrific deaths rocked Moscow, a university town of some 25,000 people that hasn’t recorded any murders since 2015.
Nearly three weeks later, police have not located the murder weapon or made any arrests. But in an attempt to clarify the misinformation that has spread about the case, Moscow police have debunked several theories in what they call “rumor control.”
None of the victims of the quadruple homicide were bound and gagged, refuting reports online. Police say a report of a ‘skinned’ dog weeks before the killings is unrelated to the case, and deceased animals left elsewhere on a resident’s property have been determined to be wildlife activity .
Additionally, police noted that the student killings are unrelated to two other stabbing incidents in neighboring Washington and Oregon states — in 1999 and 2021, respectively — which may “share similarities,” but “there does not appear to be any evidence to support the cases are related,” according to their press release.
Police also reassured the public that a September incident involving an argument between a group of people walking on the University of Idaho bike path and a cyclist, who displayed a folding knife, did not is unrelated to the murder of the students.
“The individual involved has surrendered and the charges have been forwarded to the Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office,” police said.
And although police have said they don’t know who carried out the murders, they have released information ruling out some people as suspects, most recently a person listed on the lease of the residence where the murders took place, police said on Friday. .
“They spoke to this person and confirmed that they had moved before the start of the school year and were not present at the time of the incident. Detectives do not believe this person was involved in the murders,” Moscow police said.
Police also excluded the two surviving housemates who were in the house at the time of the murders and others inside the house when the 911 call was made. The person who called 911 to alert authorities at the home after the murder has not been identified, police said Friday.
Goncalves and Mogen, two of the victims, were driven home by someone after the couple bought food from a truck hours before they were killed – authorities ruled out the driver as a suspect.
Additionally, a man seen in surveillance video of a food truck visited by Goncalves and Mogen, and another man the couple called “numerous times” in the hours leading up to their deaths, have also been removed. as suspects by the police.
It remains unclear how close authorities are to releasing information about a potential suspect or suspects. “Only verified information that does not hinder the investigation will be made public,” Moscow police said on Friday.
But certain details revealed by the authorities since the start of the investigation required additional clarification.
This week, Moscow police noted and reversed comments by the Latah County prosecutor that “the suspect(s) specifically examined this residence” and “that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted.”
Cited Wednesday as “miscommunication” between departments, Moscow police said: “Detectives do not currently know whether the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted.”
On Thursday, the Moscow police tried to clarify the main contradictory information once and for all.
“We remain consistent in our belief that this was a targeted attack, but investigators have not concluded whether the target was the residence or the occupants,” police said in a statement. hurry.
Authorities also had to clarify other information, including initially saying on Nov. 15 that the attacks were “isolated” and “targeted” that did not put the community in imminent danger. The following day, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said police were not final in concluding the public was not in danger.
Evidence collected so far includes 113 physical pieces of evidence, around 4,000 crime scene photos and several 3D scans of the house, Moscow police said Thursday.
Detectives have received testing and analysis of crime scene evidence from Idaho State Police Forensic Services, and will continue to receive additional test results, according to police.
“To protect the integrity of the investigation, specific results will not be released,” police said.
Detectives also collected the contents of three dumpsters on the street where the home is located and seized five nearby vehicles to be treated as evidence, police said.
As for the murder weapon – believed to be a fixed-blade knife – detectives contacted local businesses regarding the purchase of knives in the days leading up to the murders.
Investigators are also relying on a wealth of public tips, photos and videos from the night the students died, including more than 260 digital media submissions people submitted through an FBI form, the agency said. police. Authorities processed more than 1,000 pieces of information and conducted at least 150 interviews to move the case forward.
Additionally, several agencies and law enforcement agencies investigate homicides. More than 30 employees, including detectives, patrol officers and support staff from the Moscow Police Department, are working on the case, police said in the news release Friday.
The FBI has deployed 22 investigators to Moscow, 20 agents across the country and two investigators from the agency’s Behavior Analysis Unit, police said.
Additionally, 20 Idaho State Police investigators are assigned to Moscow and another 15 uniformed soldiers patrol the community. Forensic services and a state police mobile crime scene team are also working on the case.