Police in Moscow, Idaho, are reporting a large volume of tips after launching an appeal for information concerning a vehicle that could be tied to the killings of four University of Idaho students.
The Moscow Police Department on Wednesday asked the public for help in gathering clues about the occupants of a white Hyundai Elantra that was spotted close to the site of the homicides last month. On Thursday, police said that calls to a tip line that they established for the case would be forwarded to an FBI call center due to the line being flooded with callers eager to provide information.
“The tip line now will go to an FBI call center,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry said during a brief interview that the department shared on YouTube. “We’ve done that because we started receiving many, many tips. And that call center can categorize those and they can send those tips back to investigators, so we can follow up and make sure that we continue with our investigation.”
Fry went on to stress that a different white vehicle featured in newly released body camera footage taken close to the time of the killings “is not the vehicle that we are looking for,” despite speculation about the car from some web sleuths.
A bulletin shared to the Moscow Police Department’s website and Facebook page on Thursday also states that the “volume of calls” received on the tip line since the appeal was made had forced the department to seek help from the FBI call center, explaining that “the global call center has the resources to take those calls.”
“Please be aware that this new call process takes patience on behalf of the caller, and there are some prompts to follow,” the bulletin states. “Remember, your tip may be the key to solving this case.”
The bodies of students Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Ethan Chapin, 20, and Xana Kernodle, 20, were found at an off-campus residence on the morning of November 13. The victims had been fatally stabbed with what police have described as a fixed-blade knife.
Few other details of the investigation have been released to the public or to the families of the victims, with police explaining that doing so could come at “the expense of compromising the investigation and prosecution”
The report of the vehicle spotted on the night of the killings, which police said was a 2011-2013 white Hyundai Elantra with an “unknown license plate,” could be the most “significant” piece of information released so far, according to one expert.
Kenneth Mains, former law enforcement official and founder of The American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, previously told Newsweek that information about the car’s occupants could provide detectives with information crucial to solving the case.
“Someone must have seen it or it was spotted on surveillance during that time when not a lot of cars are on the road,” Mains said. “For police to release this information means it holds potential significant value to the investigation. Maybe not the suspect but potentially a witness.”
The number to call for those who believe that they may have information related to the case remains the same: 208-883-7180. Tips can also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitted to a form available on a FBI website.
Newsweek has reached out to the Moscow Police Department for comment and additional information.