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'We cannot say there's no threat': Moscow Police provide new details on student murders

Police say they do not have a suspect at this time.

MOSCOW, Idaho — After days with limited answers on what happened surrounding four homicides that took place in Moscow on Sunday, Nov. 13 -- and after Moscow Police told the public there was no threat to the community -- police are now saying they "cannot say" whether or not there is a threat.

"You have questions and so do we," Moscow Police Department's Chief James Fry said.

Fry extended his condolences to the families and added that this was a "horrible crime."

Police found the four students dead on Sunday when responding to a call about an unconscious person at a home on King Road, less than a mile from the U of I campus. 

Fry can not identify any possible suspects or persons of interest, he said in the press conference. There was no sign of forced entry and the police are still working on a timeline, he said.

Police believe the four students were killed with an edged weapon such as a knife, and they believe the students were killed in an "isolated, targeted attack."

Police earlier this week identified the students who died as 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, from Conway, Washington; 21-year-old Madison Mogen, from Coeur d'Alene; 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, from Post Falls and 21-year-old Kaylee GonCalves, from Rathdrum.

KTVB confirmed late Wednesday the Spokane County Medical Examiner finished the autopsies for the four victims and sent their findings to the Latah County Coroner. KREM 2 reported in an interview with Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt that the scene was "very sad" and there was "lots of blood." 

Fry said at the press conference that Chapin and Kernodle were at a party at a different location earlier that evening and that Mogen and GonCalves were at a downtown bar. Police are asking anyone with information about the student's whereabouts before the murders to contact police.

Fry admitted there is still someone out there who had committed these crimes and that people should remain vigilant.

Fry said that those will help aid investigators by shedding light on if the same weapon killed all four students. Fry said there are over 25 investigators on the case.

When pressed by reporters about the idea of it being an isolated incident, the Chief said that although they still believe it was isolated, that "the person is still out there." Fry was also asked about the lack of information about the crimes being given out, he said the department doesn't want to compromise the investigation. 

"The reality is I probably should have been standing here a day or two ago," said Fry.

He stated they are looking into every tip that they receive.

Other new information released was the confirmation that there were two other roommates in the home at the time of the attack, but they were unharmed. These two people were also in the house when police arrived, Fry said, and no other additional information can be released about what the two people know.

Fry also said that nothing at the house house has been identified as missing and that, at this time, they will not divulge any information about where the bodies were found. 

University of Idaho President Scott Green also spoke at the conference -- holding back tears.

"This crime is simply beyond comprehension," Green said. "And not something we are used to. We've been working with Moscow Police and we just want justice for these victims."

Green said the University is offering continued support to students and families by way of counseling, accommodations and escort services at any time of the day or night. 

Director of the Idaho State Police Colonel Kendrick Wills said "crime knows no boundaries."

"This crime has shaken us to the core," he said.

For students that are still feeling apprehensive or scared, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Blaine Eckles said all absences are excused and the university is giving people all the flexibility they need.

"We have increased safety patrols, we have campus safety escorts at anytime and we have resources with counseling all for supporting students," Eckles said.

He said he had made contact with the students families and made sure they know that the university will be providing ongoing support. 

Chief Fry said they hoped to have more information tomorrow.

"We will continue to put out information when we have time," Fry said. "We love this community, a lot of us went to the University of Idaho and we will do everything we can to solve this."

The full press conference can be viewed below:

The FBI confirmed Tuesday afternoon that federal agents are assisting Moscow Police with the investigation, as are Idaho State Police, the Latah County Prosecutor's Office and other state and local agencies in the area. The FBI often provides investigative, forensic and technical assistance to local law enforcement agencies in cases where a local agency requests such assistance, they said.

Several students who were still on the U of I campus Tuesday told KTVB they remain wary of the situation.

"Especially since, you know, what happened was so close to campus," said Kobe Luu, a graduate student. "There are so many people here that could be potential victims."

"It's 'safe' and no suspect," U of I staff member Oliver Sipes said. "I'm just confused about what's going on."

With just a few days before the Thanksgiving break, many students have left campus early.

"A week worth of school isn't worth it if you're going to be scared every night," student Paige Carter said.

Credit: Kernodle Family
Xana Kernodle.

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Credit: Mogen Family
Madison Mogen.

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Credit: Goncalves Family
Kaylee Goncalves.

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Credit: Stacy Chapin
Ethan Chapin, who was one of four University of Idaho students found dead in a house near campus, and his family members.

"The Moscow Police Department and the City of Moscow is deeply saddened for the families of these individuals, fellow students and friends, and our community during this time. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to each and every person affected by this incident," a spokesperson for the City of Moscow wrote in a news release Monday morning.

Fundraisers to assist the families of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee GonCalves have been started on GoFundMe, which has verified the fundraisers' authenticity.

The University of Idaho said in a news release that Chapin, a freshman, was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences; Kernodle, a junior, was majoring in marketing in the College of Business and Economics and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority; Mogen, a senior, was also majoring in marketing in the College of Business and Economics; and GonCalves, a senior, was majoring in general studies in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

The university canceled classes Monday, and provided additional counseling on campus Monday and Tuesday for students and employees. Additional security is on campus to assist with Safe Walks, a free service to all students and employees.

RELATED: Vigil for 4 University of Idaho students killed near campus scheduled for after fall break

The University of Idaho has scheduled a vigil for Nov. 30, the Wednesday after students return from Thanksgiving break. A moment of silence will be observed before the national anthem at the men's basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 16, and the women's volleyball game Thursday, Nov. 17.

The Associated Students of Boise State University will hold a candlelight vigil Thursday, Nov. 17, at 5:30 p.m. at the "B" on the Boise State campus.

The Idaho State Board of Education also issued a statement about the tragedy from President Kurt Leibich. He said that the University of Idaho has support and counseling services in place and that the Office of the State Board of Education will be standing by if help is needed. 

"The news out of Moscow is absolutely devastating," said Liebich. "On behalf of the Idaho State Board of Education and the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho, I offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the students who were murdered. "I do not understand how this could occur and that students' lives would be lost to such a heinous act."

Leibich went on to add that he and his fellow board members are, "holding the loved ones and the University of Idaho's entire campus community in our thoughts."

Watch more coverage of this story:

Ongoing coverage of the University of Idaho investigation can be found in our YouTube playlist:

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