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Police still believe Idaho murders to be targeted attack, but ask students to take precautions

Moscow Police said they have investigated tips that one of the women murdered had a stalker, but have not been able to verify those claims.

MOSCOW, Idaho — The Moscow Police Department (MPD) provided an update on the investigation into the murders of four University of Idaho students Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said they have looked into hundreds of tips, including tips that one of the victims, 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, had a stalker, but they were unable to verify those claims.

Goncalves and three other victims, 21-year-old Madison Mogen, 20-year-old Xana Kernodle and 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, who is from Skagit County, were believed to have been stabbed to death, by a fixed-blade knife, in their sleep in the early morning hours of Nov. 13. The three female victims lived in the house, while the parents of Ethan Chapin said that he was staying over that night with Kernodle, who was his girlfriend. 

The night before the killings police say Chapin and Kernodle were at a party on campus and Goncalves and Mogen were at a bar in downtown Moscow. Video also showed the two girls at what appeared to be a food truck on Saturday night. All four are believed to have arrived home around 1:45 a.m.

There were two other people living at the home who had returned home by 1 a.m. that night. They were not injured.

A 911 call came into the MPD around noon that Sunday reporting that there was an unconscious person at the house. Police said that a surviving roommate's phone was used to call 911 after finding one of the victims unconscious, believing they had passed out and were not waking up. Police say multiple people were in the house when that 911 call was made. They did not confirm who was speaking on the call, but had said none of the people present at the time of the 911 call were suspects. When police arrived they found all four victims on the second and third floors of the house. Investigators have yet to identify a suspect or recover the murder weapon. 

Police said the surviving roommates and a "private party driver" who drove two of the victims home the night before are not believed to be involved in the crime. They also added that the young man seen in surveillance video at a food truck and a young man that the two surviving roommates called the day of the murders are also not suspects.

There was no damage to the front door of the home and it was unlocked when police arrived, leading them to believe there was no forced entry, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said at an earlier press conference.

Police said in the press conference on November 23rd that they are still looking at this as a targeted attack, but would not say who the target was.

"Very clearly, from the beginning, we said that we believe it was a targeted attack," said Captain Roger Lanier, with the Moscow Police Department. "I mean, to be honest, you're going to have to trust us on that at this point because we're not going to release why we think that."

Moscow Police say that so far they have gathered 103 pieces of evidence, 4,000 photographs, 150 interviews, and more than 1,000 tips. Idaho State Police said that this is a complex case but that they have the "utmost confidence" in the investigation and believe the investigation will be done right. 

Despite the lack of specific information, police are asking all students to take extra precautions.

"Always traveling in pairs, knowing where you're going, telling someone when you arrive, and just that kind of general awareness," said Lanier. 

More officers are in the Moscow area and will be on campus for added security after the Thanksgiving break. The university also announced it will allow hybrid learning until winter break.

A vigil will be held for the four murdered students on Wednesday, November 30 at 5 p.m. on the University of Idaho campus. An exact location has not yet been announced. 

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