Murders of University of Idaho students: Investigators questioned 90 people


Moscow, Idaho
CNN

Authorities are scheduled to provide an update Wednesday afternoon on the fatal stabbing of four University of Idaho students while police may search vital video evidence and more than 700 leads that have arrived in the 10 days since the bodies were found.

A wealth of information poured in after investigators opened a video-submission portal, Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell said.

“Now it’s about processing all of that and getting what we can out of (the videos),” he said, adding that it’s unclear how many shots were submitted.

Still, authorities are no closer to naming a suspect, although investigators have interviewed more than 90 people and are making progress, he said.

They’re also working to cobble together a timeline of tips and other information in hopes that understanding the sequence of events will help them uncover important clues, he said.

The bodies of Ethan Chapin, 20, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Madison Mogen, 21, were found Nov. 13 after police were called to their Moscow tenement home, a short walk south of campus , officials said. A coroner said the victims were stabbed.

“This is a very big operation, a very big investigation, and it’s a very horrific crime,” Snell said.

Snell acknowledges that the public is frustrated by the lack of information, he said, but a lot of work is going on behind the scenes and authorities don’t want to impede the investigation or a possible prosecution.

“Just from the various leads we’ve worked on and all the information we have,” Snell said, “we’re definitely making progress on this investigation.”

Details are expected to be announced at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference.

Authorities have not ruled out that more than one person may have been involved in the killings, he said. Police believe the attack was targeted, they said, and that the killer or killers used a “sharp weapon” such as a knife.

The Moscow police worked on the case with four investigators. She directs the investigation with the help of the state police, the FBI and other agencies.

Steve Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, is “in a bit of denial” after the murders, he told CNN on Wednesday, and is focused on getting justice for his daughter despite the lack of information.

“We all want to help, and we can’t play a role if we don’t have really substantive information to work from,” he said, along with his other children, Alivea and Steven.

Alivea expressed frustration at the schedule – she knew her sister got home about 11 minutes later than police said – as well as rumors circulating in the information vacuum. She dismissed claims that her sister was being followed, repeating a police statement Tuesday that they “were unable to verify or identify a stalker.”

“She was extremely conscious,” the nurse said. “She was very alert. I think she really would have noticed something.”

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Alivea Goncalves further described her sister as a dope who “didn’t address any of the negatives.” She enjoyed laughing and playing pranks on loved ones, she said.

“She blocked me on Instagram when I borrowed shirts without being asked – that was not uncommon,” says Alivea with a smile.

Kaylee was a hard worker too, her brother said, and she would want him to fight for her.

“Just sitting in my bed and crying myself to sleep doesn’t do her justice and that’s not what she would expect me to do,” Steven Goncalves said.

Kaylee Goncalves was popular and knew everyone, her father said, and she often gave parties, like many young people her age.

When asked what he’d heard from local police, Steve Goncalves said, “They don’t share much with me,” and suggested Moscow police might be limited in what they could share.

The killings rocked the school of 11,500 students, with one telling CNN it would not come back until a suspect was in custody.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry hasn’t ruled out the possibility the community is still under threat, he said last week, urging residents and students to remain vigilant, report any suspicious activity and be aware of their surroundings.

Some professors canceled classes last week, including Zachary Turpin, who wrote on social media that he “can’t in good conscience teach classes” until police release more information or identify a suspect.

Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen

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University President Scott Green on Tuesday sent a note to students and staff about learning opportunities. The students have autumn break. When classes resume, there are two weeks left in the semester.

“Faculty has been asked to prepare in-person and distance learning options to allow each student to choose their method of engagement,” he wrote. “Putting courses entirely online is not preferred, but may be necessary in limited situations.”

Graduation ceremonies remain scheduled for December 10th.

There will be more state police officers on campus for the foreseeable future, Green said. The size of the school’s security forces has also been increased, he said.

The killings mark Moscow’s first homicide since 2015. The city of 26,000 people sits on the Washington border about 80 miles south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington.

Investigators have begun compiling a timeline of the students and their last known whereabouts.

Chapin and Kernodle attended a fraternity party from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on November 12, the night before they were found dead.

Goncalves and Mogen were at a sports bar between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. They were then seen ordering from a nearby food truck, according to the truck’s twitch stream.

While they waited about 10 minutes for their food, they chatted to other people standing by the truck. They appeared to be in no distress or danger, the man managing the truck told CNN.

Goncalves and Mogen used a “private party” for a ride and arrived home at 1:45 a.m., police said. Investigators don’t believe the driver was involved in the deaths, they said. At that time, all four victims were back in the house, the police said.

How and when the attack happened is a key focus of the police investigation.

It wasn’t until just before noon that Sunday that an 911 call was received about an “unconscious person,” and responding officers found the four students dead. According to police, there were no signs of forced entry.

Two other housemates were inside and unharmed, and police do not believe they were involved in the crime, authorities said last week.

The students killed “probably fell asleep” before the attack, police said, citing the Latah County coroner. Some of the four – it’s not clear how many – had defensive injuries and there were no signs of sexual assault, police said.

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Moscow Police Department

Police have not identified the 911 caller and say the call came from only one of the surviving roommate’s phones. Whoever made the call is not a suspect, Police Chief Fry said.

On Monday, police said a dog had been found in the home.

“The dog was unharmed and was handed over to animal services and then handed over to a responsible party,” Moscow police said on Facebook.

The University of Idaho announced it will hold a candlelight vigil on November 30th.

“Please join us from your location, individually or as a group, to help us make Idaho shine. Light a candle, turn on the stadium lights, or share a moment of silence with us as we unite on campus,” the university said.

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