Idaho police may have destroyed crucial evidence during their incompetent investigation into the grisly murders of four college students, sources said.
A source close to the investigation described the efforts by Moscow Police as ‘botched,’ and said the department likely ‘obliterated’ mountains of evidence at the scene by waiting so long to properly investigate.
The comments come as police were seen on Monday measuring tire tracks in the driveway of the home where the students were murdered – a full six days after their bodies were discovered.
Also on Monday officers appeared to expand their search area by cordoning off a section of woods behind the house as they searched for the murder weapon.
Roommates Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20, were stabbed to death on November 13. Xana’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, was also killed.
Despite cops telling Goncalves’ parents that the killer left a ‘mess’ of evidence, on Sunday Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry gave a blundering press conference in which he repeatedly could not answer basic questions about the crime.
Idaho police were seen on Monday measuring tire tracks in the driveway of the home where the students were murdered, a full six days after their bodies were discovered
On Sunday the Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry gave a blundering press conference in which he repeatedly said he did not know the answer to basic questions about the crime
Roommates Kaylee Goncalves, 21, (second left), Madison Mogen, 21, (on Kaylee’s shoulders), Ethan Chapin, 20, (second right) and Xana Kernodle, 20, (next to Ethan) were stabbed to death on Sunday November 13 between 3am and 4am
A source told OK! magazine that cops likely destroyed evidence due their negligence, or allowed it to be compromised with their sluggish response.
‘The reality is this evidence was likely obliterated and if the cops had done things correct,’ the source said. ‘Those tire marks would have been photographed, measured, and preserved, on the day when the victims were found.’
‘The time that elapsed between when the bodies were found and forensics team returned to the crime scene allowed crucial evidence to be corrupted, by weather or other activity.’
‘With no suspect, no murder weapon and little to no leads, you have to ask the question: did police botch the investigation from the get-go?’ the source added.
On Sunday, Chief Fry’s press conference appeared to corroborate reports of the police department’s disorder.
While asked questions about where they were searching for the killer, or about how police thought the killer could stab four people to death without waking the two other roommates in the house, Fry gave a series of inconclusive answers.
‘We’re looking everywhere,’ he said at one point.
Asked whether Moscow’s proximity to Washington state – which the city directly borders – would qualify the case as an interstate investigation, Fray said ‘I cannot comment on that, I’m not even aware.’
A police officer stands outside the house in Moscow, Idaho, where four college students were stabbed to death
Sources close to the investigation said cops likely ‘obliterated’ evidence that the killer left behind
The house in Moscow, Idaho, where the four students were killed was surrounded by various law enforcement personnel, including federal authorities, on Sunday
Steve and Kristi Gonclaves told Fox News: ‘This wasn’t like a pinpoint crime. This person was sloppy.’ Steve added that the killer ‘made a mess there, and they’re going to have to go through that point by point.’
They said police told them the crime scene ‘will take a lot of time to process’.
Last week, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said the Thanksgiving break had hampered the investigation because many potential witnesses are students who have already left the small college town.
As of Sunday, Chief Fry said that more than 640 tips had been received and investigated.
Initially, police said there was no danger to the public but have since backtracked and called it a ‘complex and terrible crime’ as they scramble for any new leads on the killer – adding it would take some time to resolve.
A 911 call from one of the surviving roommates was not made until nine hours after the slaying, with officers claiming that they managed to ‘sleep through’ the brutal killings and that other ‘friends’ were at the property at the time.
Now, police are asking residents and local businesses to scour surveillance footage taken between 3am and 6am the night the four friends were murdered. It is not clear why it has taken so long to narrow down the areas of interest.
Kaylee Goncalves (left) and her best friend and roommate Madison Mogen (right). The Goncalves said Maddie was also like a daughter to them and they will ‘never stop looking for who killed them’
Kristi Goncalves, Kaylee’s mother, says that police told them that examining the chaotic crime scene will take time
DailyMail.com previously revealed that a garbage truck filled with trash was allowed to collect a dumpster from the scene before it was searched.
The error made the search for the knife used in the gruesome attack that much more difficult.
Police have been searching for the knife – referred to as an ‘edged weapon’ by Fry – in trash cans around the area where the four students were found dead.
Cops have conducted 90 interviews into the massacre so far.
Police have not confirmed if they have DNA from the suspect but have set up a mobile unit at the scene of the bloody crimes to try to speed things up.
Officers are also seeking surveillance footage from two ‘areas of interest’ in Moscow as part of their hunt for the killer.
They are urging members of the public to come forward with any tips or footage in parts of the city between 3am and 6am on November 13.
Anyone with footage or stills covering West Taylor Ave, West Palouse River Drive, Highway 95 south to the 2700 block of Highway 95 S and the Arboretum and Botanical Garden are asked to contact cops.
Moscow police were seen looking through the cordoned off bushes behind the home on King Road
Blood drips down the outside of the wall of the house the four students shared. Investigators describe it as the worst crime scene they have ever seen
On Sunday detectives were seen combing through woodlands surrounding the house in which the four students were fatally stabbed
Dylan Mortensen (left) and Bethany Funke (middle) lived in a modest Moscow rental house with fellow University of Idaho students Xana Kernodle (second from left) Kaylee Goncalves (second from right) and Madison Mogen (right)
However, authorities have yet to reveal why the window of time is so important, but confirmed that other friends of the students were present in the home at the time of a 911 call.
The chief stated that the 911 call, placed at 11.58 am, was made from the phone ‘of one of the surviving roommates’ but did not share who that was.
Two roommates, Bethany Funke and Dylan Mortensen are not suspects and have been cooperating with the investigation, authorities confirmed.
Both surviving roommates have been ruled out as suspects by the police, with Kristi confirming that she believes her daughter was calling her ex-boyfriend Jack around the time of the murders.
However the family insists that he was not involved in any way, adding: ‘They’re wasting their time with Jack. Jack is just as distraught as we are. Jack is our family.’
Chief Fry said on Sunday: ‘We believe they’re targeted because we take a totality of all the circumstances we’re looking at. Do we know any one person that was targeted?
‘We’re not able to say at this point in time due to our investigation, but we still believe that.’
Dozens of FBI agents are assigned to the case, as well as state police, to assist the Moscow Police Department – with no murder weapon being found.
Officials believe that the four students were stabbed while they slept, with two found on the second floor and the others on the third floor of the home.
The four students were killed in the early hours of Sunday November 13. A week after their discovery, police have still not found a murder weapon or any compelling leads
Murder victim Kaylee Goncalves, 21, (right) and her ex-boyfriend Jack DuCoeur, 26, (left). Kaylee and her friend Maddie called Jack at least seven times in the hours before they were killed
Investigators positioned themselves at various places in the woods – as they desperately searched for clues near the murder scene
Detectives are also trawling through wooded areas behind the house of horrors as part of a probe into whether their murder spied on them before striking.
Photos captured at the scene on Sunday by Fox News show investigators scouring the woodlands outside the students’ home in the small college town of Moscow to decipher where the killer may have lurked before stabbing the four victims.
Investigators positioned themselves at various places in the woods – as they searched for clues near the murder scene.
Moscow police were also seen looking through a white Chevrolet sedan parked outside the house where the murders took place.
The search in the thicket beside the Moscow house coincided with the revelation that last month, just three miles from the scene, a couple’s dog was killed in the most brutal fashion.
Buddy, a mini Australian shepherd, was found skinned with fur left on only its legs and face.
This is the sliding door that one of the girls’ fathers believe may have been used by the killer to gain access to the home in the early hours of Sunday morning. All four victims were stabbed in their beds
Another sliding door in the home opens into the master bedroom. It’s unclear where exactly each student was sleeping, but they were all in their beds
James Fry, chief of Moscow police, confirmed that they still had not identified a suspect in the killing, and confirmed there were two roommates in the house at the time of the murders
Idaho State Police Col. Kedrick Wills said: ‘We know that people want answers – we want answers, too. Please be patient as we work through this investigation.
‘We owe this to these young kids. To these young adults. We owe it to them. And we’re absolutely dedicated to make sure that that happens.’
Moscow Police Captain Roger Lanier said: ‘Some of the victims had defensive wounds and each victim was stabbed multiple times.’
Lanier confirmed that they have ruled out Mortensen and Funke in connection this crime, as well as a male who is seen on camera at the food truck that Goncalves and Mogen stopped at before going home.
He added: ‘Any online reports stating that the victims had been tied and gagged are not accurate’, after also confirming that there appeared to be no signs of sexual assault.
Kaylee’s sister Alivea (left) said ‘a lot of people’ had access to the house and the code to the front door because the girls were so sociable
Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle. Kernodle lived at the house with the other two women who were killed, plus two more roommates. Chapin, Kernodle’s boyfriend, was staying at her home
Investigators say nothing appears to have been stolen from the victims or the home, and there was no sign of forced entry, and first responders found a door open when they arrived.
Family members of the victims say that ‘a lot of people’ had the code to the property before their deaths, and police have still not arrested any suspects.
University President Scott Green said instructors have been told to prepare for a possible hybrid teaching system that includes in-person and remote learning for students not comfortable returning to the campus after the fall recess, which includes Thanksgiving, ends after this week.
Green said: ‘While we certainly hope there’s a swift closure with the arrest of whoever is responsible for this crime, we must also be prepared for all the possibilities, including a lengthy investigation.’
Police appealed for assistance in tracking down the killer or killers
Kaylee Goncalvez, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, were killed in the ‘targeted’ attack, though police are yet to give more details as to why they were attacked
Police previously seized the contents of three dumpsters to locate possible evidence. But on Sunday Captain Lanier said ‘nothing of note was discovered.’
Detectives have also asked local businesses if they recently sold a fixed-blade knife. Dozens of additional law enforcement officers have arrived in Moscow to help with the investigation or with patrols, officials said.
The Moscow Police Department said four detectives, five support staff and 24 patrol officers are working on the case.
Alongside the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has 22 investigators helping in Moscow, and 20 more agents assisting from outside the area.
Idaho State Police has supplied 20 investigators, 15 troopers for patrols, and its mobile crime scene team.