Police do not have a suspect in the stabbings deaths of four University of Idaho students found Sunday at a home blocks from campus, they said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry said investigators believe the homicides were a “targeted” and isolated attack. But he stressed that they still haven’t found the murder weapon and don’t have a suspect.
“We cannot say that there is no threat to the community,” Fry said at news conference attended by more than 40 local and national media members Wednesday afternoon. “We still believe it is a targeted attack. But there is still a person out there who committed four very horrible, horrible crimes.”
Until the news conference, police have refused to answer questions related to the slayings of Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle were roommates. The Latah County coroner ruled all four deaths as homicides. Autopsies were being performed in Spokane on Wednesday, Fry said.
Other people were home during the killings and at the time police arrived on scene. Fry said the people at the home were not injured during the attack. He declined to say whether they were able to provide an account of the attacks.
On Saturday night, Chapin and Kernodle were together at a different party on campus, Fry said. Mogen and Goncalves were together at a downtown bar and arrived home sometime after 1:45 a.m. Sunday, he said, confirming the women were seen in a Twitch livestream getting food from a local food truck.
Investigators believe the students were killed in the early morning hours of Sunday. Police were called to the home around noon on Sunday when someone reported an unconscious person.
Fry said the four students were stabbed with a knife but police have not recovered a weapon. He said there were no signs of forced entry and a door to the home was open when police arrived.
Fry said police believe no one was held hostage during the incident. He declined to say who called 911.
Aaron Snell, Idaho State Police communications director, said the people in the house have “fully cooperated with the investigation” and investigators have not established whether weapons other than a knife were used in the attack. Investigators have no people of interest in the case, he added.
Fry urged the community to “remain vigilant.”’
“We all have to be aware of our surroundings and be watching out for each other,” Fry said.
He said there are about 25 investigators working on the case from Moscow police, Latah County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Police and FBI.
“We are providing every resource that we can to make sure that this comes to a conclusion and that the person or people that are responsible are brought to justice,” said Idaho State Police Col. and Director Kedrick Wills.
University of Idaho students and families of the victims expressed frustration Tuesday at the lack of information released to the public. Many students left Moscow early for Thanksgiving break.
“The reality is I probably should have been standing here a day or so ago,” Fry said. “But I’m here now. We’re going to continue to be here.”
UI President C. Scott Green said the university will support students who have decided to leave campus. He added that officials decided not to cancel classes because many students prefer to stay and continue going to class.
“To us, this crime and the loss of these young lives is simply beyond comprehension,” said Green, who fought back tears before wiping one away at one point. “While our small community is certainly not immune to such things, it’s not a situation our close-knit campus is used to dealing with.”
Green said the four students were “bright lights in our community.”
Students who remained in Moscow to attend classes said they’re questioning if they’re safe on campus.
Blaine Eckles, UI Dean of Students, said the university increased campus safety patrols since the killings. Campus safety officials are available to escort students across campus.
Investigators are continuing to collect evidence, review videos and establish a timeline of events, Fry said. He asked that anyone who has information relevant to the case to call a tip line at (208) 883-7180.