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Four Idaho college students were likely asleep when they were fatally stabbed, officials say


MOSCOW, Idaho — Four college students who were fatally stabbed last weekend were likely killed in their sleep and some had defensive wounds, authorities said Friday.

Each of the victims was stabbed multiple times, the Moscow Police Department said in a statement, citing autopsies completed by Thursday by the Latah County coroner.

There was no sign of sexual assault in the Sunday killings of University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, the department said.

No suspect has been identified in the stabbings, the department said.

Two roommates who were home when the four students were killed were cleared as potential suspects, as was a person seen in a video from a late-night food truck video that captured two of the victims before they were found dead, the department said.

Reports that the four friends — three of whom lived at the home where their bodies were found— were tied up or gagged are inaccurate, the department added.

More coverage of the slaying of four University of Idaho students

Detectives seized the contents of three nearby dumpsters to search for possible evidence and they contacted local businesses to determine if a knife was recently purchased, the release said.

The development came two days after Moscow Police Chief James Fry told reporters that the roommates, who authorities have not identified, were home when the four students were killed “early” Sunday morning.

Authorities did not receive a 911 call until 11:58 a.m., when someone reported an “unconscious person” at the home, authorities said. 

It isn’t clear who dialed emergency responders. The city attorney declined Friday to release audio of the call, citing authorities’ ongoing investigation.

The department said in a statement earlier Friday that Chapin and Kernodle, who were dating, were last seen at the Sigma Chi house, where Chapin was member of the fraternity. They returned home at 1:45 a.m.

Mogen and Goncalves were at a local bar, the Corner Club, between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., the department said. Ten minutes later, they were recorded on the food truck camera before getting a ride service home.

They arrived home at roughly the same time as Chapin and Kernodle, the department said.

The neighborhood surrounding the home, which is less than a mile from campus and surrounded by crime scene tape, remained quiet Friday.

A handful of police officers stood watch in the front driveway. At one point, a team of forensic experts could be seen inspecting the house.

Many of the student residents who live nearby have largely left out of fear or to allow authorities to continue digging for clues. Many also left town for the university’s Thanksgiving break.

One resident has called for patience.

Renee Weiss, 24, who lives across the street from where the killings occurred, said the public should let the investigation play itself out.

Renee Weiss, 24, lives across the street from the killings.
Renee Weiss, 24, lives across the street from the killings.Deon J. Hampton / NBC News

“They need the community’s help. If nobody saw anything or if nobody can piece together what’s happened then it’s going to take even longer,” said Weiss, who is not a student.

Weiss said she wants answers, too, but acknowledged the investigation might take time.

“This isn’t a ‘Criminal Minds’ episode,” she said. “It’s not going to be done in an hour.”

She added: “I’d rather it take longer knowing they caught the right guy then slap something together and have someone wrongfully arrested.”

For the parents of one of the slain students, the wait for answers has been exasperating.

Speaking to NBC’s “Nightly News” on Friday, the mother of Kaylee Goncalves said her husband talks with authorities daily about the investigation — and every day they have the same response.

“Everyday, he just says, ‘Nothing, babe,’” a tearful Kristi Goncalves recalled him saying. “I’m like, nothing? He’s like, ‘Nothing. I mean, Just nothing.’”

More than two-dozen local patrol officers and detectives are investigating the case with the help of 22 FBI investigators and 35 officers from the Idaho State Police, the Moscow Police Department release said.

People have called in nearly 500 tips and 38 people have been interviewed, the department said.

“We’re doing the fastest job — the most thorough job — that we can, to hold the integrity of this case,” Fry told “Nightly News.”



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