Investigators still believe Idaho college students’ killings were targeted, police say after confusing statements


After a day of confusing statements, police investigating last month’s slayings of four University of Idaho students said Thursday they still believe the attack was targeted — although they have not concluded “whether the target was the residence or its inhabitants”.

The four students – Ethan Chapin, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21 — were found stabbed to death Nov. 13 in their shared off-campus home in the college town of Moscow, upsetting a community that had not recorded a homicide since 2015.

Thursday’s police statement about the targeting comes after police corrected a prosecutor’s comments about the case — and in the process said something that appeared to differ from their previous stance on a case that has put the college town in the spotlight. end, no arrests or any announced motive.

It also comes amid frustration from relatives of the victims and some in the community over a rare release of investigative details and changing characterizations of the case by officials, including authorities backing down if the community still faced a threat.

The latest sequence began Wednesday, when Moscow police released a statement saying the prosecutor in Idaho’s Latah County incorrectly said this week that “the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence” and “that one or more of the residents were obviously targeted.”

How conclusive the prosecutor’s statements were, however, reflected a “miscommunication,” Moscow police said in a statement Wednesday.

But the statement added: “Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any residents were specifically targeted, but continue to investigate.”

That was a departure – if not a contradiction – from what police had said: that they believed the attack was targeted.

On Thursday, a police spokesperson attempted to clarify the matter:

“We remain steadfast in our belief that this was indeed a targeted attack, but we have not concluded whether the residence or its residents were targeted,” Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell told CNN on Thursday. , who also spoke about the Moscow police.

Details about the comments police say the prosecutor made, including when and to whom they were made, were not immediately available. CNN has sought comment from the district attorney’s office in Latah County, where the university is located.

Police have said for weeks that they believe the attack was targeted, but have not offered specifics as to why.

On November 15, Moscow police said that they “preliminarily believe that this was an isolated, targeted attack and there is no imminent threat to the community at large”, and that “evidence indicates that this was a targeted attack”.

The next day, police pulled some of them away, saying they could not say if there was any threat to the public.

However, as the investigation progressed, authorities publicly stated that investigators believed the killings were targeted, including during a November 20 police press conference.

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are still working to determine who is responsible for the killings. At least 150 interviews have been conducted and more than 1,000 tips have been received from the public, police say.

No suspects have been identified and the murder weapon – believed to be a fixed blade knife – has not been found. Authorities said they have not ruled out the possibility that more than one person may have been involved in the stabbing.

People attending a vigil for the four University of Idaho students who were killed filled the Kibbie Dome before the event began Wednesday in Moscow, Idaho.

Wednesday’s police statement came on a day the campus community gathered to pay their respects to the slain students.

The university community gathered at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center – also known as the Kibbie Cube – to honor the lives of the four students. School officials and three of the four families talked about how they will miss the four after their sudden deaths.

“The circumstances that bring us here tonight — they’re terrible,” said Stacy Chapin, Ethan Chapin’s mother. “The hardest part – we can’t change the outcome.”

Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves had been friends since the 6th grade, Steve Goncalves said.

“They just found each other and every day they did chores together, came to our house together, shared everything,” he said. “In the end, they died together, in the same room in the same bed.”

Attendees stand in the Kibbie Dome as family members speak Wednesday about their loved ones killed in Moscow, Idaho.

“When I look at all of you guys, there’s only one way for this to get better a little bit, to heal a little bit … you’re just going to have to love each other,” Goncalves added.

Ben Mogen, Madison Mogen’s father, shared memories of her love of live music, her tireless work ethic and how much it meant to him that she was able to experience love with her boyfriend.

While it’s unclear how long the investigation will take or “the why of this horrific act,” the community will “get through this all together,” said Blaine Eckles, the university’s dean of students.

He also encouraged everyone to “tell fun stories, remember them in good times and not let their lives be defined by how they died, but instead remember them for the joy they spread and the times fun they shared while they were alive.”

Eckles also reminded students of the various resources available to them, such as counseling and sharing their feelings with those around them.

A flyer seeking information about the slayings of four University of Idaho students is displayed on a table along with buttons and bracelets during a vigil Wednesday in memory of the victims in Moscow, Idaho.

Since the attack was discovered, investigators have been building a timeline of the last known whereabouts of the four students.

On the night of the murders, Goncalves and Mogen were at a sports bar, and Chapin and Kernodle were seen at a fraternity party.

Investigators believe all four victims were back home by 2 a.m. the night of the stabbings. The two surviving roommates had also been out in Moscow that night, police said, and returned home at 1 a.m.

Police initially said Goncalves and Mogen returned home by 1:45 a.m., but they later updated the timeline, saying digital evidence showed the pair returned at 1:56 a.m. after visiting a food truck and were taken home from a “private party”. ”

The next morning, the two surviving roommates “called friends to the apartment because they believed one of the second-floor victims had passed out and was not waking up,” police said in a release. Someone called 911 from the home at 11:58 a.m. using the phones of one of the surviving roommates.

When police arrived, they found two victims on the second floor and two victims on the third floor. There were no signs of forced entry or damage, police said.

Investigators do not believe the two surviving roommates were involved in the deaths.

A medical examiner determined that the four victims had been stabbed multiple times and were likely asleep when the attacks began. Some of the students had defensive wounds, according to the Latah County Coroner.


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