Four Idaho students were asleep when they were attacked, police say

Four Idaho students were asleep when they were attacked, police say


The four University of Idaho students who were killed Sunday in an off-campus house probably were asleep when they were stabbed, the county coroner said, and some of them showed signs of trying to fight their attacker.

Each was stabbed multiple times, and some had defensive wounds, the Latah County coroner said in a statement released late Friday by police in Moscow, Idaho.

After a week of grievance, uncertainty and fear in the college town, police were still searching for the attacker and asked the public for help. Authorities have received more than 500 tips and conducted 38 interviews, the Moscow Police Department said, but are seeking more tips.

Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash.; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, were killed in the early hours Sunday, probably an hour or two after they all got home, police said. The three women were roommates, and Chapin and Kernodle were dating.

Authorities revealed some new details about the four friends’ activities the night before the killings, pieced together from surveillance footage and interviews.

That Saturday evening, Goncalves and Mogen were out at a bar downtown. They stopped at a food truck and hailed a ride home, police said.

They got home at 1:45 am, about the same time Kernodle and Chapin returned to the residence after hanging out at the campus’s Sigma Chi fraternity house.

Idaho students were killed with sharp weapon in targeted attack, police say

Two other roommates also were home that night, and detectives said they do not believe they were involved in the crime, Moscow police said. Neither was injured or held hostage, Moscow Police Chief James Fry has said.

The autopsy showed that Kernodle tried to fight off her killer, according to an interview that KTVK/KPHO conducted with her father, Jeffrey Kernodle. “Bruises, torn by the knife. She’s a tough kid,” he told the Arizona-based station.

He said doors to the home the roommates shared locked automatically and required a code to unlock.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he told KTVK/KPHO on Friday.

Police were searching for evidence in the contents of three dumpsters near the residence. They also were trying to determine whether a fixed-blade knife had recently been purchased at any local businesses.

Police were alerted by a 911 call just before noon Sunday, reporting an unconscious person at the residence. They have not identified the 911 caller; Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell told ABC News on Thursday that neither of the uninjured roommates was the caller.

After initially assuring residents of the northwestern Idaho city that there was no danger to the public, the police chief said at a news conference Wednesday that the killer was “still out there” and told residents to be vigilant. Authorities have said it was a targeted attack, but Fry told reporters, “We cannot say that there is no threat to the community.”

Many students left the university’s 10,000-person campus after news of the attack, going home early for the Thanksgiving break.

More than 40 FBI agents have been assigned to the case, including 22 investigators in Moscow working with the Idaho State Police and local authorities. Police published a map showing where the four students were seen that night and asked anyone near the areas who saw anything suspicious or has video footage to contact authorities.

Chapin, a freshman, was studying recreation, sport and tourism management. Kernodle, a junior, was majoring in marketing. Mogen, a senior, also was studying marketing. Goncalves, a senior, was majoring in general studies.

In statements to various news outlets, their families have expressed intense grievance.

Chapin, who enjoyed sports and traveling, was one of a triplet, so close with his siblings that they all thing to attend the University of Idaho, his parents told the Seattle-based television station KING-TV. Kernodle “truly was a once-in-a-lifetime type of person,” her sister Jazzmin Kernodle said in a tribute posted on Instagram.

The four were good friends, Jazzmin Kernodle said.

“I knew each of them were such great friends to Xana, and she adored them so much,” she wrote on Instagram. “Ethan and Xana were so happy together and it made me so happy seeing the way he made her feel.”

Goncalves and Mogen were kind, adventurous, worthy women who loved their lives, Goncalves’s family wrote in a statement shared with the Spokane, Wash.-based television station KXLY. Goncalves was “dedicated, outspoken, motivated and full of life.” Maddie was “one of the most genuine, kind and caring humans on the earth,” they said.

“No amount of words or statements could ever attempt to capture who they were or what they wanted in life or what was stolen from us all,” the family wrote. “We are angry. You should be angry. And to whomever is responsible, we will find you.”

A vigil will be held Nov. 30 at 5 pm on the school’s campus, the university announced Thursday.

Marisa Iati contributed to this report.

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