19 Nov. Four University of Idaho students murdered Sunday in a home near the Moscow campus were found dead in their beds and likely asleep when they were attacked, according to the Latah County coroner.
“It must be someone pretty mad to stab four people to death,” Latah County coroner Cathy Mabbutt told NewsNation, a cable news outlet, on Friday.
Moscow police chief James Fry told KHQ he believes the students were killed in their sleep.
Mabbutt told The Spokesman-Review the students — Ethan Chapin, 20; Xana Kernodle, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; and Madison Mogen, 21 – were stabbed to death, based on the autopsies performed by the Spokane County Medical Examiner.
Police have no suspects “in custody,” according to the Facebook post. Moscow police chief James Fry called the killings “targeted” and “isolated”.
Aaron Snell, communications director for the Idaho State Police, told UKTN the students were found on the second and third floors of the residence. Mabbutt told UKTN there were defensive wounds on the hands of at least one student.
Mabbutt said the size and depth of the wounds indicated a large knife or similar had been used. All four deaths were classified as homicide.
Mabbutt said the students had been stabbed multiple times and there was no evidence of sexual assault.
The remains of the four students were released to their families.
“On behalf of the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office, I would like to express my condolences to the loved ones of these young people and to everyone affected by this terrible event,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Veena Singh in a press release.
Moscow police on Friday released a map on its Facebook page showing the time and locations of the students in the hours leading up to their deaths. It asked anyone who was near those areas and noticed suspicious behavior, or who has video surveillance or other pertinent information, to call the tip line at (208) 883-7180 or email [email protected] .id.us.
The card indicated that Goncalves and Mogen were at the Corner Club, a popular bar in central Moscow, from 10 p.m. on Nov. 12 to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 13. before returning to their King Road residence in a private vehicle five minutes later.
Meanwhile, Chapin and Kernodle attended a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity, of which Chapin was a member, from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm on November 12. They also returned to the King Road house, where Kernodle, Mogen and Goncalves lived, at 1:45 am the next day.
The fraternity and the house are separated by a large lawn. It’s unclear where Chapin and Kernodle were in the nearly five-hour gap from 9 p.m. to 1:45 a.m.
The four students were killed sometime in the early hours of the morning, Mabbutt said.
Two other housemates were in the house that night. The two roommates who were home at the time of the attack are not considered suspects, according to another Facebook post by Moscow police. Fry has said the roommates were unharmed and cooperating with the investigation.
Officers came to the house after a 911 caller reported an unconscious person in the house, the post said. Officials refused to release the 911 tapes and have not said who made the call.
Police discovered the four students dead when officers arrived at the house.
Latah County prosecutor Bill Thompson said the search warrant documents of the investigation have been sealed. He said they will likely remain sealed until the investigation is complete.
“Usually they are sealed to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Thompson said.
Detectives have seized the contents of three dumpsters on King Road, police said. They also contacted local businesses to determine if a large fixed-blade knife had recently been purchased.
Detectives have received nearly 500 tips since Friday afternoon, the post said. Police have conducted 38 interviews with people who may have information about the murders.
The Moscow Police Department is receiving assistance from the Idaho State Police, the FBI and the Latah County Sheriff’s Office.
Moscow police have four detectives, 24 patrol officers and five support staff working on the case. The FBI has 22 investigators in Moscow, including two from the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
The Idaho State Police has 20 detectives, 15 troopers, a public information officer, forensics and mobile crime scene team, and 15 uniformed troopers to assist with community patrols.
A candlelight vigil for the slain students is scheduled for Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. on the east lawn of the administration building on the Moscow campus, according to the university’s Facebook page. Those unable to attend are encouraged to light a candle, turn on the stadium lights or hold a moment of silence. Use #VandalStrong or tag @uidaho in social media posts, the post said.