The four University of Idaho students found dead over the weekend in the off-campus home they shared were stabbed in an ‘isolated, targeted attack,’ police revealed Tuesday.
Moscow police say all four victims — Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21 — were found stabbed with an ‘edged weapon’ like a knife at their off-campus house on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities are now working to ‘recreate the victim’s activities’ on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, when they were pictured smiling on a house porch, ABC News reports, as the investigation into their deaths continues.
Police did not find any weapon at the scene, they noted, and are still searching for a suspect.
‘All I can say is the deaths are ruled a homicide at this point, and homicide and murder are synonymous,’ Capt. Anthony Dahlinger told the Idaho Statesman.
‘We certainly have a crime here, so we are looking for a suspect.’
But Mayor Art Bettge said the murders appears to be a ‘one-off type of situation.’
‘Something had occurred that resulted in these deaths,’ he said, adding that nothing was stolen from the scene.
He had previously suggested the students may have been killed in a ‘crime of passion’ or a ‘burglary gone wrong,’ telling FOX News:
‘It’s one of any of a plenitude of possibilities, including burglary gone wrong, robbery gone wrong… any of those is a possibility and not one to the exclusion of others.’
The four University of Idaho students who were found dead in off-campus housing were identified on Monday as Madison Mogen, 21, top left, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, bottom left, Ethan Chapin, 20, center, and Xana Kernodle, 20, right. They are pictured just hours before their untimely deaths
The four were found dead after police responded to a call about an unconscious person in a home on Sunday
The initial lack of information about the cause of the deaths — and the fact that police have said there is no one in custody — prompted many students to leave campus early, days before the Thanksgiving break was scheduled to begin.
A vigil for the slain students that was originally scheduled for Wednesday evening has been postponed until after Thanksgiving break, University of Idaho spokesman Kyle Pfannenstiel said in an email to the Associated Press Tuesday.
Autopsies on the bodies are expected to be completed later in the week.
Chapin and Kernodle appeared to be in a relationship before their untimely death
Goncalves, of Rathdrum, Idaho, left, and Mogen, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, right, were in different sororities but still appeared to be good friends
Goncalves’ family also issued a statement on social media and said the 21-year-old was only a few months shy of moving across the country for a new job.
Kernodle and Chapin posted photos together on Instagram. She posted the photo above of Chapin on October 29 to wish him a happy birthday
‘She was looking forward to her job in tech starting on 1/1, a move to Texas, road trips in her just purchased Range Rover, and a trip she planned out to Europe,’ the family wrote. ‘She’d never stop fighting for us and demanding the truth and justice and neither will we.’
Mogen and Kernodle were members of the Pi Beta Phi sorority on campus, while Goncalves was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority and Chapin was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
Kernodle and Chapin appeared to have been dating, according to her Instagram that featured photos of the couple cuddled up.
Mogen and Kernodle also worked at a local restaurant together.
‘Xana and Maddie have been servers here for several years and brought so much joy to our restaurant and all those they encountered,’ the Mad Greek owners wrote on Facebook, adding Mogen ‘was also the face behind our social media pages.’
‘You will be greatly missed. Thank you for being a part of our family/team and for helping me so much over the years. Until we meet again,’ the owner wrote.
Goncalves’ family issued a statement on social media and said the 21-year-old was only a few months shy of moving across the country for a new job
The family wrote: ‘She’d never stop fighting for us and demanding the truth and justice and neither will we’
The owners of Mad Greek also posted a tribute to Mogen and Kernodle, who worked as servers at the local restaurant
Police in Idaho said they responded to a call of an unconscious person at the home just before noon on Sunday.
When they arrived at the scene, they found all four people dead in a ‘house that was converted into an apartment,’ Police Capt. Tyson Berrett told the Idaho Statesman.
They likely died between 3am and 4am, authorities say.
He later announced that all four were students at the university, which the school also disclosed in a news release.
It remains unclear how the victims died, but local police are considering it a homicide.
Police have not taken any suspects into custody as of Monday, but say they do not believe there is a threat to the rest of the school community.
Police in Idaho said they responded to a call of an unconscious person at the home just before noon on Sunday
When they arrived at the scene, they found all four people dead in a ‘house that was converted into an apartment’
He later announced that all four were students at the university, which the school also disclosed in a news release
The group appeared to be hanging out together hours before their death.
Mogen, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Kernodle, of Avondale, Arizona, posed together in one last picture alongside their other sorority sisters and Chapin, of Conway, Washington, who was in Sigma Chi.
Goncalves, of Rathdrum, Idaho, was also in the picture — despite being in a separate sorority.
The school originally posted an alert on social media at 3.07pm Sunday saying police were investigating a homicide nearby.
The post said the suspect was not known at the time, and school officials advised students to stay away from the area and shelter in place.
By 3.46pm, the school put out a second alert that said police did not believe there was an active threat, and the ‘shelter in place’ advisory was lifted.
Still, school officials warned students to ‘remain vigilant.’
In an ensuing email, university officials told students that all Monday classes would be canceled ‘out of respect for those fellow Vandals,’ referring to the school’s mascot.
The university said counselors would be available for students at the campus counseling center, while employees could access assistance through an employee assistance program.
Green urged people to reach out if they were concerned about classmates or coworkers.
‘An event of this magnitude can understandably have significant impacts on those left behind,’ he wrote. ‘As Vandals, we must come together and lift each other up.’
The university said counselors would be available for students at the campus counseling center, while employees could access assistance through an employee assistance program
Following the news of their deaths, students flocked to Chapin’s Instagram page expressing their grief.
‘Too young too soon. Fly high baby! We’ll be there soon,’ Jacob Perez wrote on his most recent post documenting events from his freshman year.
‘Forever grateful to have you in my life,’ another wrote.
Goncalves’ family further described her as being a ‘defender’ and ‘protector.’
‘One of the most painful experiences has to be to sum up an entire person in a paragraph,’ the family wrote. ‘Our sister can’t be packaged up in a box with a neat bow and shame on anyone who would expect that.
‘Kaylee was, is, and always will be our defender & protector. She is tough & fair. The ultimate middle child. She did absolutely everything she set her mind to. She didn’t hold back on love, fights, or life. Kaylee was the ultimate go getter and constantly wanted an adventure.’
Authorities are now asking anyone with information about the apparent murders to call (208) 882 -2677.
Their deaths came the same day an ex-football player killed three members of the University of Virginia’s football team in a shooting, leading to a police chase and campus lockdown.