Police in Moscow, Idaho, said that they have still not identified any suspects or persons of interest in the weekend slayings of four college students killed in an off-campus home.
The four students — identified as Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves — were found dead in the home they shared with other roommates around noon on Sunday, Nov. 13. Police said Wednesday they were killed with a knife in the early-morning hours, but law enforcement was not dispatched to the scene until an unidentified person called 911 and reported an unconscious person at the home. Police arrived and found the four bodies when conducting a wellness check.
Police Chief James Fry said Wednesday at a press conference that no murder weapon has been found and he declined to share information about the crime scene, including whether the victims had all been found in the same part of the house. Fry also said that there did not appear to be any signs of forced entry into the home, and did not provide a possible motive, but said there was no evidence of robbery.
Fry said investigators believe two other roommates were home during the attack, but they were "not injured." When asked if they had been involved in a hostage situation, Fry said no. He did not speculate on why the crime was not reported until noon when uninjured, living people remained in the home, and, to protect the "integrity of the investigation," would not confirm if the surviving roommates were the ones who called 911. Fry did say that the roommates were still at the house when police arrived.
"We don't know why that call came in at noon and not in the middle of the night. ... We're investigating everything still to try to pull all the pieces together," Fry said.
An autopsy of the four bodies is expected to be completed today. Fry said the autopsy could provide evidence and help confirm if the same weapon was used in all four murders.
The Moscow police department has said that the attack was targeted, but in Wednesday's press conference, Fry declined to explain why law enforcement believes this to be the case.
"Based on details at the scene we believe this was an isolated, targeted attack on our victims," he said.
While Fry has previously emphasized that there is no threat to the community, he backtracked on that statement when pressed on it during the conference.
"We still believe it's a targeted attack, but the reality is there's still a person out there who committed four horrible, horrible crimes, so I think we've got to back to 'There is a threat out there still, possibly,'" Fry said. "We don't believe it's going to be a danger to anybody else, but we all have to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that we're watching out for each other."
Fry said that investigators are still developing a timeline of events, but said that new information had led them to conclude that Chapin and Kernodle were at an on-campus party together, while Mogen and Goncalves were at a downtown bar. All four victims returned to the home sometime after 1:45 a.m. local time, he said.
Throughout the conference, Fry and Idaho state police colonel Kedrick Wills emphasized the amount of resources and personnel being dedicated to the investigation, which marks the first murder case in Moscow since 2015, according to the Idaho Statesman. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also involved in the case.
Fry and other officials conducting the investigation have faced blowback for the lack of information made available in the case. During the press conference, Fry admitted that he should have addressed reporters "a day or so ago."
Jim Chapin, the father of one of the victims, said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the lack of information "only fuels false rumors and innuendo in the press and social media."
"The silence further compounds our family's agony after our son's murder," Chapin wrote. "I urge officials to speak the truth, share what they know, find the assailant, and protect the greater community."
Blaine Eckels, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at the University of Idaho, said that the school was in "constant communication" with the families of the victims. He added that police were also in contact with the families.
"We're going to stay in support of (the families) moving forward for the weeks and months to come, in whatever capacity they need," Eckels said. Local and campus vigils have been planned to honor the students.