- Authorities still don’t have a motive or a weapon in fatal stabbing of four Idaho college students.
- Police Capt. says the murders, ‘In some ways, this took our innocence.’
- Authorities have gathered 100 pieces of evidence, 4,000 photos, 1,000 tips and talked to 150 people.
More than a week after four University of Idaho students were fatally stabbed at their home, authorities are making a public plea for help as they have not identified a suspect or found a murder weapon.
Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier told a news conference Wednesday that his department is putting all of its resources into solving the case and that investigators are prepared to work through the Thanksgiving holiday.
“This is our highest priority. It will remain our highest priority,” Lanier said, updating the public on the investigation that has shocked the campus. “We owe that to the families.”
Lanier was also what residents, especially students, should do in a college town of about 26,000 residents near the Idaho-Washington State border that hasn’t had a reported homicide in about 5 years.
Lanier said that Moscow, Idaho, has always been a safe community but that students should probably travel in pairs, and tell someone when they leave and arrive for a destination as there are plans to increase police presence on campus.
“In some ways, this took our innocence,” Lanier said. “I would tell students that you need to stay with a friend. I know that university staff is looking into different options to increase some of the safety on campus.
“Going forward,” Lanier continued, “there’s a lot of things that maybe we wished we would’ve done before that we need to start doing now.”
The victims were housemates Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, Mount Vernon, Washington. The students’ bodies were found on Nov. 13 after police were called to their off-campus rental home.
Investigators are looking for what they believe is “a fixed blade or knife used in the murders,” Lanier said.
Idaho State Police Col. Kedrick Wills said investigators are working around the clock. They have collected more than 100 pieces of evidence and 4,000 photos, processed more than 1,000 tips and “multiple 3D scans” of the house where the stabbings occurred. They also interviewed about 150 people.
Wils hoped that the statistics will help ease a frustrated and anxious community desperate for answers with “a little bit of a perception of just how complex” the case is.
“We understand you want answers. We want answers, too,” Wils said. “Please remain patient as this investigation unfolds.”
Moscow Police Chief James Fry said he believes there is more information to be gathered which will create a window into this case. “We all want to understand why this happened and what drove someone to do this,” Fry said. “The families of those involved and our entire community deserve to know.”
During the news conference, Lanier again laid out the timeline of the stabbings and also said that authorities have ruled out others they believe were not involved in the attack.
Those people include the two surviving roommates in the house, a man who was “seen in a grub truck video circulating on the internet,” showing Goncalves and Mogenand a “private party” who drove Goncalves and Mogen home, Lanier said.
Authorities have also ruled out “any individuals that spoke to the dispatcher on the 911 call” as suspects and a man “that Caylee and Madison had called several times” — the night they were stabbed, Lanier added.
“Detectives have canvassed the neighborhoods looking for evidence, physical evidence, video surveillance and they’ve contacted numerous residents who may have seen or heard anything,” Lanier said.
Lanier said detectives have looked into information that Gonclaves “may have had a stalker and have been unable to corroborate the statement,” although they continue looking into it. Lanier also added any reports of the victims “being tied or gagged are not accurate.”
Wils also confirmed that Idaho Gov. Brad Little is making available up to $1 million in expenses for the investigation.
Also at the news conference, University of Idaho President Scott Green said support from the community and alumni has been overwhelming and that there will be a candlelight vigil to honor the victims on Nov. 30.