Skip to Content

Authorities say they’ve received thousands of tips regarding 4 slain University of Idaho students

<i>Ted S. Warren/AP</i><br/>People attend a November 30 vigil for the four University of Idaho students stand in the Kibbie Dome as family members talk about their loved ones in Moscow
AP
Ted S. Warren/AP
People attend a November 30 vigil for the four University of Idaho students stand in the Kibbie Dome as family members talk about their loved ones in Moscow

By Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Authorities investigating the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found stabbed to death last month say they have received thousands of tips from the public.

In a Saturday update, the Moscow Police Department said it has received more than 2,640 emails to a tip web address, more than 2,770 phone tips and more than 1,000 submissions to an FBI link.

Investigators have collected more than 110 pieces of physical evidence and roughly 4,000 crime scene photos.

But the case remains unsolved. Police have not located the murder weapon or identified a suspect.

“To assist with the ongoing investigation, any odd or out-of-the-ordinary events that took place should be reported,” Moscow police said Saturday. “Your information, whether you believe it is significant or not, might be the piece of the puzzle that helps investigators solve these murders.”

Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, were likely stabbed multiple times in their sleep just days before Thanksgiving break, police said.

Their horrific deaths have since rattled Moscow, a college town of some 25,000 people which hasn’t recorded a single murder since 2015, and the nation.

Authorities debunk falsehoods

In an attempt to clear up false information that’s been spreading about the case, Moscow police this week debunked several theories.

“There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts,” the Moscow Police Department said in a news release Friday.

None of the victims in the quadruple homicide were tied and gagged, refuting online reports. A report of a “skinned” dog weeks before the killings is not connected to the case, according to police, and deceased animals left on a resident’s property elsewhere were determined to be wildlife activity.

Additionally, police noted the students’ killings are not related to two other stabbing incidents in neighboring Washington and Oregon — in 1999 and 2021, respectively — which may “share similarities,” but “there does not appear to be any evidence to support the cases are related,” according to the release.

Police also reassured the public that a September incident that involved an argument between a group of people walking on the University of Idaho bike path and a cyclist, who displayed a folding knife, is not connected to the students’ killings.

“The individual involved turned himself in, and charges were referred to the Moscow City Attorney’s Office,” police said.

And although police have said they don’t know who carried out the killings, they have released information eliminating some people as suspects, most recently a person listed on the lease of the residence where the killings happened, police said Friday.

“They have spoken to this individual and confirmed they moved out prior to the start of the school year and was not present at the time of the incident. Detectives do not believe this person has any involvement in the murders,” Moscow police said.

Police also ruled out the two surviving roommates who were in house at the time of the killings and other people inside the house when the 911 call was made. The person who made the 911 call alerting authorities to the home after the killings has not been identified.

Goncalves and Mogen, two of the victims, were driven home by someone after the pair purchased food from a truck hours before they were killed; authorities have ruled out the driver as a suspect.

Additionally, a man seen in surveillance video from a food truck visited by Goncalves and Mogen, and another man the pair called “numerous times” in the hours before their deaths, were also ruled out as suspects by police.

Conflicting information

It remains unclear how close authorities are to releasing information about a potential suspect or suspects. “Only vetted information that does not hinder the investigation will be released to the public,” Moscow police noted Friday.

But some details released by authorities since the start of the investigation have required further clarification.

This week, Moscow police noted and backtracked comments from the Latah County prosecutor that said, “the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence” and “that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted.”

Moscow police called that a “miscommunication,” and added: “Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted.”

On Thursday, Moscow police attempted to clarify the key conflicting information, once and for all.

“We remain consistent in our belief that this was a targeted attack, but investigators have not concluded if the target was the residence or if it was the occupants,” police said.

Authorities have also needed to clarify other information, including initially saying on November 15 that detectives believed the attacks were “isolated” and “targeted” and that the community was not under imminent threat. The following day, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said police were not definitive in concluding the public was not at risk.

Where the investigation stands now

Detectives have received testing and analysis of the crime scene evidence from Idaho State Police Forensic Services, and they will continue to receive the results of additional tests, according to police.

“To protect the investigation’s integrity, specific results will not be released,” police said.

Detectives also collected the contents of three dumpsters on the street where the house is located and seized five nearby vehicles to be processed for evidence, according to police.

As for the murder weapon — believed to be a fixed-blade knife — detectives contacted local businesses regarding knife purchases in the days leading up to the killings.

Multiple agencies and law enforcement personnel are investigating the homicides. More than 30 employees including detectives, patrol officers and support staff from the Moscow Police Department are working on the case, police said Friday in the news release.

The FBI has devoted 22 investigators in Moscow, 20 agents through the country and two investigators from the agency’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, police said.

Plus, there are 20 Idaho State Police investigators assigned to Moscow, and an additional 15 uniformed troopers are patrolling the community. Forensic services and a mobile crime scene team from the state police are also working the case.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Xana Kernodle’s last name.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Veronica Miracle, Natasha Chen, Jason Kravarik, Elizabeth Wolfe, Mallika Kallingal, Jason Hanna, Paradise Afshar, Taylor Romine and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - National

CNN Newsource

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content