Police in Moscow, Idaho, tried to calm growing community concerns Wednesday about the killings of four University of Idaho students – even as police said they did not have a suspect in custody and declined to provide the public further information.
“We hear you, and we understand your fears,” the Moscow Police Department said in a news release. “We want you to know that we, like you, have been devastated and distressed by these young lives that were cut short needlessly.
“We determined early in the investigation that we do not believe there is an ongoing threat for community members. Evidence indicates that this was a targeted attack.”
That evidence has not been shared with the public, and police said they have shared everything they can without compromising the investigation. Police also said they hope to have more information Wednesday.
The statement comes days after the four college students were found dead in an off-campus residence. No weapons have been found but police said preliminary information led them to believe an “edged weapon” like a knife was used in the quadruple homicide.
The killings and lack of information have rankled Moscow, a 25,000-strong city nestled on the Idaho-Washington border. Residents there are anxious and are “getting out of Dodge,” Latah County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Mikolajczyk told the Idaho Statesman.
The University of Idaho identified the victims as:
- Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington, a freshman majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
- Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona, a junior majoring in marketing and a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.
- Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a senior majoring in marketing and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
- Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, a senior majoring in general studies and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
Just hours before their deaths, Goncalves posted a photo of the foursome with the caption, “one lucky girl to be surrounded by these ppl everyday,” adding a heart emoji.
Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told CNN affiliate KXLY she saw the gruesome crime scene Sunday night.
“There’s quite a bit of blood in the apartment and, you know, it was a pretty traumatic scene to find four dead college students in a residence,” she said.
Mabbutt said the coming autopsies could provide further information about what happened.
“There could be some, you know, some evidence of the suspect that we get during the autopsies which would be helpful,” Mabbutt said.
Alivea Goncalves, Kaylee’s sister, sent a statement to the Idaho Statesman on behalf of her family and Mogen’s.
“They were smart, they were vigilant, they were careful and this all still happened,” she said. “No one is in custody and that means no one is safe. Yes, we are all heartbroken. Yes, we are all grasping. But more strong than any of these feelings is anger. We are angry. You should be angry.”
Due to the killings, the city canceled its long-standing Artwalk festival “in respect for the victims of this week’s tragedy on the University of Idaho campus as well as those in the Vandal and Moscow community who are united in mourning.”