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What we know about the murders at the University of Idaho in Moscow


It’s been more than two weeks since four Idaho State University students were found dead in a home near campus, and as some students return to Moscow after Thanksgiving break and others choose to finish the semester remotely, police still don’t identified the suspect in the murders.

Moscow Police Department, Idaho State Police and the FBI all participants in the investigationbut have repeatedly said they are keeping many details secret to preserve the integrity of the investigation.

It’s been almost a week since the last one a press conference was held. Here’s what we know about the investigation and what happened that weekend.

What happened that weekend?

Shortly before noon Pacific time on Sunday, Nov. 13, Moscow police officers responded to a 911 call about an unconscious person at a home near the U of I campus. They entered and found four bodies. Latto County Coroner Kathy Mabbatt said they were stabbed to death with a large, fixed-blade knife in the early morning hours.

The coroner’s report did not include a time of death, but Moscow Mayor Art Bettge previously told the Idaho Statesman that the students were killed between 3 and 4 a.m. that Sunday.

Autopsies confirmed that all four died of multiple stab wounds and were likely all asleep when the attacks began. Some of the victims had defensive wounds. None of the victims showed signs of being sexually assaulted, the investigator said.

Who were the victims?

The four were seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Gonsalves, 21, of Rathdrum; junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington.

The three women, Kernodle, Mogen and Gonsalves, lived in the King Road home with at least two other roommates, both of whom survived.

Kaylee Gonsalves and Madison Mogen
Kaylee Gonsalves (left) and Madison Mogen (right) were known to be close friends. A joint GoFundMe page has been set up for the two Idaho State University students, with proceeds going to the two women’s families. Maya Hippinstil

Chapin stayed the night at Kernodl, with whom he was meeting.

Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle
Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, the two students killed at Idaho State University, were known to have dated, according to Chapin’s mother. Maya Hippinstil

Where did the 911 call come from?

The two surviving roommates were there that night, but not together. Police said both were home around 1 a.m. Sunday and may have been inside the home at the time of the attack.

They were not injured and did not wake up until late Sunday morning, police said. Both had bedrooms on the first floor. The victims were on the second and third floors – two on each. The police did not specify where the victims were.

Police discovered that the 911 call was made from the home to the cell phone of one of the surviving roommates. The surviving roommates called their friends, because they thought that one of the victims on the second floor had lost consciousness and was not waking up. Several people spoke with the 911 dispatcher before officers arrived, the Moscow Police Department said.

Where did it happen?

The killings occurred in Moscow, located along the Idaho-Washington state line, about 30 miles north of Lewiston and 85 miles south of Coeur d’Alene. It is home to Idaho State University.

According to the US Census Bureau, Moscow has a population of about 25,850, and the U of I reports 11,507 students. The town is just a 9-mile drive from Pullman, Washington, home of the larger Washington State University.

The six-bedroom house where the students lived was located near campus in the 1100 block of King Road.

What do we know about the order of the shelter at the site on the day of the murders?

On Nov. 13 at 2:07 p.m. PT, the U of I ordered people to “stay away from the area and shelter in place” as the police department investigated the homicide. About 90 minutes later, the university tweeted that the shelter had been lifted but urged Moscow residents to “remain vigilant.”

In accordance with U of I website, a shelter-in-place order may be issued by the University’s Office of Public Safety and Security in the event of a hazardous spill, hostile intruder, or emergency weather. The order is sent using the Vandal Alert system. This requires students, faculty and visitors to shelter in an indoor space with no or few windows.

You can subscribe to Online vandal alert system to receive future alerts.

Do we know why this happened?

Police have released little information about a possible motive for the killings, but law enforcement officials have repeatedly said they believe it was a “targeted attack.” They declined to provide further information on what led to this belief.

“Honestly, you’re going to have to trust us at this point because we’re not going to reveal why we think that,” Moscow police Capt. Roger Lanier said last week.

At another press conference, Frye declined to say whether the attack was carried out by one person or multiple people, and could not say whether one of the roommates was clearly the target.

Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier (right) speaks at a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 23, on the investigation into the Nov. 13 stabbing deaths of four Idaho State University students. On the left is Moscow Police Chief James Fry. Angela Palermo apalermo@idahostatesman.com

What were the victims doing before the attack?

Kernodle and Chapin were at a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house — less than a mile from the King Road home — and returned home at about 1:45 a.m. Sunday.

Gonsalves and Mogen spent the evening at the Corner Club bar before stopping in a van downtown on their way home. Last week they used a “private party” to drive home from a food truck. Both girls also arrived home around 1:45 am

Moscow time map
A map and graphic provided by the Moscow Police Department show the locations and locations of the four Idaho State University students who were stabbed to death Saturday night into early Sunday. Moscow Police Department

Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., several calls were made from Gonsalves’ and Mogen’s cell phones to the man, who did not answer. Gonsalves’ sister, Olivea, said the calls were made to a man named Jack, who is a friend. Olivea said her sister was known for calling late at night.

Did the police release someone?

Detectives said they do not believe the two surviving roommates or anyone called to the home Sunday morning were involved in the crime.

Police also cleared the man identified on surveillance video the Grub Truck food truck, the “private party” driver who drove Gonsalves and Mogen home early that morning, and the person Gonsalves and Mogen called.

The Latah County Sheriff’s Office and Moscow police have addressed the numerous rumors and questions surrounding the murders. That includes a reported dog attack incident elsewhere in Moscow that the sheriff’s office said was unrelated.

Moscow police too said Saturday that the Moscow stabbings are unrelated to the 1999 double stabbing in Pullman, Washington, and the 2021 double stabbing in Salem, Oregon. On November 23, Lenier also admitted that the police had been unable to verify reports that Gonsalves had a stalker — information that came out in the interview — but said the department would continue to seek information about that.

In an emailed statement on Monday, police said the February 2022 death in Moscow was unrelated to the quadruple homicide investigation. Police said the Latah County Coroner’s Office ruled the death to be an overdose.

Police also said reports that a red Mustang on S. Deakin Street was being processed as part of a homicide investigation are untrue and that the vehicle is “not connected to this incident.”

What does the school do?

U of I President Scott Green told students in the memo ahead of Thanksgiving break that the school would “remain flexible” through the end of the semester. University professors have been asked to prepare face-to-face and distance learning options so that students who do not want to return to Moscow for the spring semester can complete fall courses online.

Visiting consultations for students through Art Counseling and testing center will remain during the week of November 28. Students may also make an appointment by calling (208) 885-6716. The telephone line provides round-the-clock access to consultants.

University Safe walk program will be available for the rest of the semester. The service allows students, faculty and guests to call (208) 885-7233 and have a campus security officer meet them anywhere on campus and escort them to their destination.

A candles Scheduled for the U of I campus on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT, it was moved indoors to the Kibby Dome due to high winds in the forecast, the school said in a release Monday night. The U of I Boise campus, U of I Idaho Falls, Idaho State University and Eastern Idaho College will hold simultaneous vigils on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. MST.

Boise State University students, along with people who knew four University of Idaho students found murdered in Moscow on Sunday, pay their respects at a vigil in front of a statue on the Boise State campus Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. The investigation into the killing of four University of Idaho students is ongoing. Sarah A. Miller smiller@idahostatesman.com

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Reporter Sally Krutzig covers local government, growth and breaking news for the Idaho Statesman. She previously handled the affairs of the Idaho State Legislature for the Postal Registry.

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