It’s been nearly three weeks since the shocking quadruple murder at the University of Idaho — and it feels like all the cops have learned is that they don’t know as much as they thought they did.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, on November 13 four students — Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, and Madison Mogen were found stabbed to death at their off-campus residence. The Moscow Police Department was reticent at first to even say this had been a murder, much less to reveal what a brutal crime scene they’d stumbled on. After the public learned more about the massacre, authorities actually told everyone not to worry. They said this was a “targeted” killing and that no one else was in danger, declaring there was “no ongoing threat.”
From the start there was pushback on that theory. First off, if the killer is still at large, how is anyone safe? As Kaylee’s sister Autumn Goncalves put it:
“No one is in custody and therefore no one is safe. Whoever did this … is still out there and if he is sick enough to murder FOUR sweet, innocent humans so brutally, he is sick enough to do it to anyone else.”
Secondly… a “targeted” killing of four different people? It was Chief James Fry who first explained to the press on November 20:
“We believe they’re targeted because we take a totality of all the circumstances we’re looking at.”
Since they don’t have a person of interest, they don’t have a suspect, they don’t have a motive… how could they possibly have arrived at the conclusion this was targeted? They never explained it, so we have to assume it was just a total guess. The coroner told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News her theory why the killings must have been personal:
“It has to be somebody that’s pretty angry in order to stab four people to death.”
A coroner that’s never heard of serial and spree killings? Where, angry or not, the brutality had nothing to do with personal connections? What about if it’s based on the fact there were two roommates who were left alive — and indeed slept through the killings.
We could see how that might cause investigators to infer the roommates killed must have been specifically chosen, we guess. But isn’t it equally likely the killer just killed as many as he thought he could get away with? We’ve learned one victim, Xana Kernodle, had defensive wounds — meaning she probably woke up during the attack and fought back, while the rest are believed to have died in their sleep. Isn’t it logical the noise from that fight might have caused the killer to flee? Out of worry of the others waking up?
That theory actually makes more sense when you realize the killer didn’t pick four different rooms — Couple Xana and Ethan were in a bed together in one room, and childhood besties Madison and Kaylee were also sharing a bed, per Kaylee’s father, Steve Goncalves. He revealed that new detail, something he learned from the police, at Wednesday’s night’s candlelight vigil for the students.
And yet as recently as Wednesday morning, local authorities were still pushing this theory that it was a targeted, personal attack. Latah County prosecutor Bill Thompson even said “investigators believe that this attack was intended for a specific person.” One specific person??
Well, it turns out everyone questioning this conclusion was right. Police aren’t certain of that or anything else. They admitted as much in a Facebook post Wednesday night, clarifying:
“Conflicting information has been released over the past 24 hours. The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office stated the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence, and that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted. We have spoken with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office and identified this was a miscommunication.”
A miscommunication?? That’s what YOU GUYS said happened! He was repeating you! But the Moscow PD now say they don’t know at all, admitting:
“Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate.”
Wow. Thanks for that update. What a backtrack! This did NOT come with an apology for telling everyone not to worry, btw.
The local community has done what they can. Reports say there’s been a self-imposed curfew among the young people in Moscow, not because cops said so — they didn’t — but because people are scared. Because they ignored the BS coming from the PD. Speaking of which, there was yet another update on Friday morning, in which the Moscow PD flip-flopped again, saying this time:
“We remain consistent in our belief that this was a targeted attack, but investigators have not concluded if the target was the residence or if it was the occupants.”
Sorry, but… if you have no idea which was the target, why do you think it was a targeted attack?! Instead the newest release seemed concerned with “stoking community fears.” The community isn’t scared because of speculation, they’re speculating because they’re scared — because no one knows anything!
As for the ongoing investigation, how’s that going? Like we said, the community is trying to help by putting out all potentially related info. We’ve learned from sources over the past couple weeks that there was a warning put out about a threatening person with a knife back in September — Fry said they hadn’t put together a link between the events.
There was also a cute little dog which was brutally murdered with a knife in October, just three miles away from the house. The owners gave the info to the Latah County Sheriff’s Office, but police said there was no reason to believe these incidents could be related.
It would be easier to take the cops’ dismissal of suggestions more seriously if they had any leads to report at all. The fact they don’t is what’s making everyone in Moscow scared. That and the implication there’s a murderer AND a separate dog killer and knife-wielding maniac all at large in this small town.
What do YOU think of how the Moscow PD have handled this case?
[Image via Kaylee Goncalves/Instagram/KTVB/YouTube.]