University of Idaho student murders: Investigators interviewed 90 people

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Moscow, Idaho
CNN

Authorities are to provide an update Wednesday afternoon on the fatal stabbing of four University of Idaho students as police sift through what could be key video evidence and more than 700 tips that have come within 10 days since the discovery of the bodies.

Since investigators opened a video submission portal, substantial information has poured in, Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell said.

“Now it’s about processing all of that and getting what we can from (the videos),” he said, adding that it’s unclear how many recordings have been submitted.

Still, authorities are no closer to naming a suspect, though investigators have interviewed more than 90 people and are making progress, he said.

They’re also working to cobble together a timeline from tips and other information in hopes that understanding the sequence of events will help them find important leads, he said.

The bodies of Ethan Chapin, 20, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Madison Mogen, 21, were found on November 13 after police were called to their rental home in Moscow, near campus, officials said. The victims were stabbed to death, a coroner said.

“This is a very big operation, a very big investigation, and it’s a very terrible crime,” Snell said.

Snell acknowledges that the public is frustrated by the lack of information, he said, but a lot of work is being done behind the scenes and authorities don’t want to hamper the investigation or possible prosecution.

“Thanks to the various leads we’ve been working on and all the information we have,” Snell said, “we’re definitely making progress on this investigation.”

Wednesday afternoon’s press conference is expected to provide details.

Authorities have not ruled out that more than one person may have been involved in the killings, he said.

The Moscow Police Department has four detectives on the case. He is leading the investigation with the help of the state police, the FBI and other agencies.

The killings rocked the school of 11,500 students, with one telling CNN she would not return until a suspect was in custody.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry has not ruled out the possibility that there is still a threat to the community, he said last week, urging residents and students to remain vigilant, to report suspicious activity and be aware of their surroundings.

Some teachers canceled classes last week, including Zachary Turpin, who wrote on social media that he ‘cannot in good conscience hold classes’ until police release more information or identify a suspicious.

University of Idaho President Scott Green sent a memo to students and employees Tuesday about learning options. The students are on fall vacation. When classes resume, there will be two weeks left in the semester.

“Faculty has been asked to prepare in-person and distance learning options so that each student can choose their method of engagement,” he wrote. “Moving courses entirely online is not preferable but may be necessary in limited situations.”

Graduation ceremonies remain scheduled for December 10.

More state troopers will be on campus for the foreseeable future, Green said. The size of the school’s security force has also been increased, he said.

The murders mark the first case of murder in Moscow since 2015. The city of 26,000 is located on the border with Washington, about 80 miles south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington.

Investigators began building a timeline regarding the students and their last known whereabouts.

Chapin and Kernodle attended an 8-9 p.m. fraternity party on November 12, the day before they died.

Goncalves and Mogen were at a sports bar between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. They were then seen ordering from a nearby food truck, according to the truck’s Twitch stream.

As they waited about 10 minutes for their food, they chatted with other people standing near the truck. They didn’t appear to be in distress or danger, the man who manages the truck told CNN.

Goncalves and Mogen took advantage of a “private party” to take a ride, arriving home at 1:45 a.m., police said. Investigators do not believe the driver was involved in the deaths, they said.

Indeed, around that time, November 13, the four victims were back home.

Moscow Police Department

How and when the attack happened is a major focus of the police investigation.

It wasn’t until just before noon that Sunday that a 911 call was received about an “unconscious individual” and responding officers found all four students dead. There were no signs of a break-in, police said.

Two other housemates were home and unharmed, and police do not believe they were involved in the crime, authorities said last week.

The slain students were “likely asleep” before the attack, police said, citing the Latah County coroner. Some of the four – it’s unclear how many – had defensive wounds, and there were no signs of sexual assault, police said.

Police have not identified the 911 caller, saying the call only came from one of the surviving roommate’s phones. Whoever made the call is not a suspect, said Fry, the police chief.

On Monday, police said a dog was found at the home.

“The dog was uninjured and was handed over to animal services and then handed over to a responsible party,” Moscow police said on Facebook.

The University of Idaho has announced that it will hold a candlelight vigil on November 30.

“Please join us from where you are, individually or as a group, to help us light up Idaho. Light a candle, turn on the stadium lights, or hold a moment of silence with us as we unite on campus,” the university said.

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