MOSCOW, Idaho – EXCLUSIVE: Police initially called the shocking stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students in their off-campus home an ‘isolated and targeted’ attack, but they kept most of the details under wraps while that they continue to search for their suspect.
Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, were found dead in a house a few meters from campus, hours after police said someone attacked them in their sleep on November 13. The three women lived there and Chapin was visiting his girlfriend, Kernodle.
Police have kept quiet about crime scene details to protect the integrity of their ongoing investigation. However, on Friday, investigators clarified some of their reasoning in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“When the chief said that [the slayings were targeted]and [investigators] I still believe that now there does not appear to have been any forced entry into the residence,” said Aaron Snell, director of communications for the Idaho State Police. “There were survivors of that. And then also, based on internal evidence at the scene, it led detectives to believe and continue to believe that this was a targeted event.”
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He declined to discuss evidence recovered from the scene or identify who or how many victims specifically the killer was targeting.
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In a television interview, Goncalves’ father, Steve Goncalves, reportedly told CNN that he was told there was only one target among the four victims. Separately, he told Fox News last week that the attacker was “sloppy” and left an abundance of evidence.
“Family members, what they say is up to them,” Snell said. “The information we try to release is to the best of our abilities, verified, accurate and correct – and also to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
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He declined to discuss crime scene details, but said he had no qualms about the families speaking out.
“It’s totally understandable that he wants to comment, and that’s up to him,” Snell said. “It is very good.”
Whatever the intent of the killer at the entrance, the unknown suspect(s) only left after hacking four youths to death.
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Chapin was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, which specializes in recreation, sports and tourism management, the University of Idaho said. Both Kernodle and Mogen were part of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and were marketing majors. Goncalves, major of general studies, belonged to Alpha Phi.
Two of the victims slept on the second floor and two on the third, but police have not confirmed who was found where – or whether the bedroom doors were locked after the killings.
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“We haven’t released any of this information,” Snell said. “We think it’s relevant to the investigation. There are a lot of questions about it, and we recognize that, and we want to provide that information when we can – but at this stage of the investigation, we don’t. can’t.”
Several 911 callers alerted authorities around noon Nov. 13, and officers initially arrived in response to a report of an unconscious person. They found four dead victims inside.
The Latah County coroner later said all four were victims of stabbing homicide – and their injuries were likely inflicted while they slept.
The authorities and the property manager did not confirm which rooms were where. Mogen’s boots were visible on the upper level window next to a pink letter “M”, suggesting that she occupied the third floor.
Goncalves’ family told Fox News last week that she and Mogen are very close, like sisters.
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“Maddie was at our eldest daughter’s wedding,” Kristi Goncavles said. “She said, ‘All my sisters are my bridesmaids,’ and Maddie was one of those bridesmaids, and it was all of Alivea’s sisters, including Maddie.”
Two roommates, who slept on the ground floor, were not attacked. There was also no pet dog at home.
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John Kelly, a criminal profiler and psychotherapist with experience interviewing serial killers, said due to the lack of publicly available details, he is “up in the air” on whether the attacker was a random stalker or someone who knows the inside of the house.
But one thing is clear, he says. “He’s really, really a savage, with no care or empathy or anything like that,” he told Fox News Digital.
Police and the FBI, who have been working over Thanksgiving trying to find answers to the murder mystery, are asking anyone with information about the case – no matter how small – to get in touch.
“We’re looking at all angles,” Snell said. “Our concept is that if we start to lock ourselves into a specific idea, we may miss other guidance in other elements of this investigation.”
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So far, he said, investigators have received more than a thousand tips in the case and are working to close them.
“If anyone has any information, we are interested,” he added. “We think what’s in any CCTV tape is just as important as what might not be, in helping us get a clearer picture.”
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They are also looking into whether Goncalves may have had a stalker – a suggestion they have so far been unable to corroborate.
Anyone with information about a stalker, or the case in general, is asked to call the information line at 208-883-7180 or by e-mail email@example.com.