Police are working on a close investigation into the University of Idaho killings, but answers are slow to come

Police said they were working to narrow their investigation to the killing of four University of Idaho students, more than a week after the stabbings shook the college town.

Police in Moscow, Idaho have not named a suspect or found the weapon used in the attack as the city of 25,000 remained on edge. Police said at a news conference on Wednesday they had ruled out several possible suspects and outlined areas of interest in the neighborhood where the victims were last seen, as well as increased patrols in the community.

“This is our top priority, it will remain our top priority,” Moscow Police Captain Roger Lanier said. “We owe that to the families.”

Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, were killed in a targeted attack with a fixed knife earlier this month, police said. Each of the victims was likely asleep and stabbed multiple times. Some had defensive injuries. According to police, there were no signs of sexual assault.

Police declined to say Wednesday whether there was a specific target in the attack because it was an ongoing investigation. They said they had ruled out the possibility that the stabbings were a suicide murder.

Before the victims returned to the home in the early hours of November 13, the four had been enjoying a Saturday night out on the town. Mr. Chapin and Ms. Kernodle were in a sorority house. Ms Goncalves and Ms Mogen were at a local bar and then stopped at a local food truck before driving home. All four arrived around 1:45 a.m., police said.

Two surviving roommates returned a little early and got back to the house at 1 a.m., police said. Neither woke up until later that morning, police said.

Around noon on November 13, an 911 call was made asking for help to an unconscious person. Police said the call came from a surviving roommate’s cellphone. When officers arrived at the scene, they found the four victims on the second and third floors of the home.

In the days since the murders, investigators have processed hundreds of leads and processed a great deal of evidence, including photos and interviews. Authorities have also rushed to dispel rumours. Investigators said they checked information they received that Ms Goncalves had a stalker but could not verify or identify it.

“We ask that the public remain patient during the investigation,” Idaho State Police Colonel Kedrick Wills said. The State Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office are assisting the Moscow police in investigating the case.

Col. Kedrick Wills of the Idaho State Police at a news conference related to the killing of four University of Idaho students.


Zach Wilkinson/Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Associated Press

The murders — and the lack of quick answers — have rocked the college town. Some students chose to leave early before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday. Some are still uncomfortable with the thought of returning, said University of Idaho President Scott Green.

Students have the opportunity to complete the last three weeks of the semester through distance learning or face-to-face classes. The university has already increased security on campus, along with the increased presence of the Idaho State Police. Additional precautions are also being taken in campus residences, Mr Green said. He encouraged students and staff to use counseling resources.

“This is a shocking tragedy,” said Mr. Green said in a video message posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “We are sad, we are angry. We’re struggling to make sense of it.”

Write to Suryatapa Bhattacharya at [email protected]

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