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


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

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

After a week of pain, uncertainty and fear in the college town, police were still searching for the attacker and asked for the public’s 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, Washington; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, died early Sunday, probably an hour or two after they all arrived 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 murders, gleaned from surveillance footage and interviews.

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

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They arrived home at 1:45 a.m., about the same time Kernodle and Chapin returned to the residence hall after hanging out at the Sigma Chi fraternity house on campus.

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

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

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

She said the doors to the house the roommates shared locked automatically and required a code to unlock.

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

Police were looking for evidence in the contents of three containers near the residence. They were also trying to determine if a fixed blade knife had recently been purchased at a local store.

Police were alerted to a 911 call shortly 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 none of the unharmed roommates were the callers.

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After initially assuring residents of the northwest Idaho city that there was no danger to the public, the police chief told 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 can’t say there’s no threat to the community.”

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

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

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

In statements to different media, their families have expressed intense pain.

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

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The four were good friends, Jazzmin Kernodle said.

“I knew each of them were great friends with Xana and I loved them so much,” she wrote on Instagram. “Ethan and Xana were so happy together and it made me so happy to see how it made her feel.”

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

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

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

Marisa Iati contributed to this report.


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