Multiple student murders send shockwaves through Moscow, Idaho | UNITED STATES
Hundreds of people held a vigil at the University of Idaho on Wednesday night in remembrance of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, four students who were stabbed to death while sleeping on Nov. 13. Two weeks later, US law enforcement agencies remain in the dark about the case. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified. Detectives have asked the public for patience as they investigate the multiple murder. Hundreds of pieces of evidence have been collected, but there is little certainty in the small and quiet Moscow citywhere the crimes were committed.
Those who attended the vigil, held at Kibbie Dome on the Moscow University campus in conjunction with others across the state, mourned the victims, who were all between the ages of 20 and 21. years and had known each other for years. Schools turned on the floodlights of their football pitches in tribute. Families of the victims have asked people across Idaho to leave their porch lights on. “The only cure for pain is love, it’s the only thing that’s going to heal us,” Steve Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, said at the ceremony.
Kaylee and Madison were inseparable friends. “They went to high school together, started looking for colleges together and that’s how they got here. They were roommates. And in the end, they died together, in the same room, in the same bed,” Steve Goncalves said in tears.
The four victims shared a rental home near the Moscow campus, a small academic and farming community surrounded by wheat and bean fields. Of the city’s population of just over 25,000, 10,000 are students. The tragedy shattered the peace of the town, where there had been no recorded homicide for seven years.
Mayor Art Bettge ruled out the possibility that a serial killer was on the loose days after the discovery of the four students. Bettge said there was “no perceived danger” to the community and called on local and national media to await the conclusion of the investigation. This investigation is now at a standstill, he was forced to reconsider his remarks and asked the population to remain vigilant. After two weeks, there has been no significant progress in the case.
Local law enforcement responded to an emergency call on November 13 alerting them to an unconscious individual inside the home shared by the four students. When they arrived at the scene, they found four bodies. The county coroner quickly ruled out the possibility of a homicide-suicide.
The coroner estimates that the murders took place between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on November 13. Two other students, who were roommates with the victims and slept in the basement, said they arrived at the residence at 1 a.m. They told detectives they were asleep and heard nothing unusual when the murders were committed. Investigators ruled them out as suspects.
So far, police have not identified anyone of interest in the case. The murder weapon, which they believe to be a small knife of the kind used for hunting and other outdoor activities, has also not been located.
The mystery surrounding the case led Idaho Governor Brad Little to allocate $1 million in state emergency funds to help fund the investigation. The FBI has assigned 44 agents to the investigation, more than half of whom are deployed in Moscow. The Idaho State Police also assigned 20 other uniformed officers to search for the perpetrator.
The University of Idaho, which majors primarily in engineering and agriculture, asked its professors to allow students to connect remotely on demand. University officials have acknowledged that some of the student population did not return to campus after the Thanksgiving break due to safety concerns. To reassure those who have returned to campus, surveillance has been increased around dormitories and escorts have been provided to accompany students to accommodations within the complex.
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