- Authorities look for more leads in deadly student stabbing in Idaho.
- Two other housemates who were unharmed could be “key” in the investigation, authorities say.
- The victim’s father said his daughter probably fought with the killer during the stabbing: “She’s a tough kid.”
The murder investigation into four University of Idaho students believed to have been stabbed to death while sleeping in their beds has left residents upset and authorities are scrambling to unravel a mystery that is gaining attention across the country.
Sunday’s crime reverberated through the university city of Moscow, a city of about 26,000 near the border between Idaho and Washington. There has been no murder in Moscow for five years.
The victims were stabbed to death in their beds and likely asleep, Latah County coroner Cathy Mabbutt told NewsNation. Mabbutt would later tell CNN that she saw “a lot of blood on the wall” when she arrived at the scene.
“It must make someone pretty angry to stab four people to death,” Mabbutt told the cable news channel. The victims were stabbed in the chest and upper body, she said.
The coroner added that stab wounds to the hands of at least one victim appear to be defense wounds and there were no signs of assault.
“We are seeking additional tips and leads,” Aaron Snell, a spokesman for the Idaho State Police, told CNN Friday. “We think releasing information about the victims’ locations during the night may provide some information that we can follow up on.”
Snell claims the incident was “targeted” but wouldn’t say why, as state and federal authorities are now on the hunt for who killed the students.
Here’s what we know so far:
Who are the victims?
The four students have been identified as Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho. They were all in a sorority or sorority and Kernodle and Gonclaves were roommates.
Jeffrey Kernodle, Xana Kernodle’s distraught father, told Phoenix TV station KTVK/KPHO that he spoke to his daughter on the phone before she was killed.
“I think midnight was the last time we heard from her, and she was fine,” Jeffrey Kernoldle told the station. The victim’s father said he doesn’t understand why his daughter and her roommates were killed.
“They were just hanging out at home. Xana was just hanging out at home with her boyfriend,” Kernodle said. The father said that his daughter and Chapin had a very strong bond.
Kernodle added that the murders “are nonsensical,” telling the station that the door of their daughter’s off-campus residence opened with a number code.
“So they either knew that, or they just went around and found the slider [sliding door] open,” Kernodle said.
The father said the autopsy shows his daughter likely fought with her killer and shared a similar description from the coroner.
Bruises, torn by the knife. She’s a tough kid,” Kernodle said. “Whatever she wanted to do, she could.”
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Police are releasing new details
Authorities have not identified a suspect or found a knife used to stab the students, Moscow police chief James Fry said Wednesday. But the Idaho statesman reported this week that police are seeking a military-style knife in connection with the killings.
That’s similar to Mabbutt, the county coroner, telling NewsNation that the killer probably used a “pretty big knife.”
Authorities on Friday released a map and timeline of the whereabouts of the victims last Saturday. The map shows that the four students spent most of the night separated before meeting at home.
Chapin and Kernodle attended a party at Chapin’s fraternity house from about 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Goncalves and Mogen were at a sports bar between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. They picked up food from a food truck at 1:40 AM before heading home.
Authorities say the four victims were back home by 1:45 a.m. Sunday, according to multiple reports.
Fry, who initially said there was no threat to the community, had a different tone later in the week.
“As we have stated, please remain vigilant, report suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.”
Was anyone else home at the time?
Two other female housemates were found unharmed in the home, authorities said. Moscow police chief Fry declined Wednesday to say if they could provide a report on the killings, say who called 911.
When a reporter described the surviving roommates as witnesses, Fry clarified, “I don’t think I ever said they were witnesses. I said they were there.”
Fry added that there was no sign of a break-in at the home and that a door was open when officers first arrived on the scene.
Snell, the spokesman for the Idaho Police Department, told TBEN News later Thursday that the two other people in the home could be vital to the investigation. Snell said the housemates have been working with investigators and can help with the timeline.
“They may be witnesses, they may be victims,” Snell said. “Potentially they are the key to this whole thing.”
Fry has said authorities cannot say whether there is no further threat to the community.
“We still believe it’s a targeted attack,” Fry said. “But the reality is there is still one person who has committed four very heinous, heinous crimes.”
Contributions: The Bharat Express News, CNN, TBEN, Idaho Statesman, KTVB, and KTVK/KPHO