Idaho police allay fears of a “cold case” in the Moscow murder

The Moscow Police Department, along with investigators from the Idaho State Police and the FBI, are working to address public concerns that their investigation into the quadruple homicide involving four University of Idaho students will become a cold case.

The Moscow Police Department, along with investigators from the Idaho State Police and the FBI, are working to address public concerns that their investigation into the quadruple homicide involving four University of Idaho students will become a cold case.

Idaho state official

Despite a string of unknowns, police investigating the deaths of four University of Idaho students more than three weeks ago say they are firmly on the right track to finally finding the killer or killers and solving the case.

Aaron Snell, a spokesman for the Idaho State Police, told the Idaho Statesman at a news conference that detectives from the Moscow Police Department, supported by dozens of investigators with the Idaho State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have entered the investigative phase of the case. interview down Tuesday. Despite criticism from the public, including some from family members of the four victims, based on the amount of tips and evidence still coming in to law enforcement, the investigation is not a cold case, he said.

“We have several thousand leads and tips that have come in,” said Snell, sitting inside a Moscow police headquarters. “So even though we don’t have a suspect and even though we don’t have a weapon, we’re confident that the amount of work and analysis that’s being done, the test results that are coming back, all of these things will help identify somebody and make an arrest. .”

To date, investigators have processed nearly 6,500 tips. They include 2,645 emails, 2,770 phone calls and 1,084 digital media submissions, police said.

“We are at that point in the investigation where we are still gathering information, gathering tips and gathering evidence,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry said in a statement. brief interview was posted on YouTube on Tuesday. “We’re still doing everything we need to do.”

Police have said only that there were no signs of forced entry at the residence in the 1100 block of King Road where the attack occurred. They are still trying to finalize the actual point of entry, Snell said.

“To my knowledge, that hasn’t been fully determined, and if and when it is, it’s not something we’re going to propose, at least not yet,” he said. “We think a lot of these details are important to the investigation and important to where we’re going.”

Case time frame “critical”

The death of the victims, which the police described as a targeted killing, occurred in the morning hours of November 13. However, as police continue to develop a larger picture of the murder, investigators have not yet released a time frame. for the attack that claimed the lives of four students and left the small college town in shock and searching for answers.

“We think it’s very important,” Snell said of the morning time frame. “We’re working with the coroner’s office to make sure we have that relevant information and it goes to the detectives. And that will be part of that picture and the investigation.”

The victims were U of I seniors Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, and Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene; junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington. Each was found dead by police in the King Road home where Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle lived with two other female roommates. Chapin, who was familiar with Kernodle, spent the night there.

Police are continuing to investigate the whereabouts of each student leading up to the fatal incident – the city’s first homicide since 2015.

On Tuesday, Snell explained to the Statesman that investigators believe Chapin and Kernodle were at a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house from 9:00 p.m. to 1:45 a.m. Chapin was a member of the fraternity where he was housed. less than a 600-foot walk from a three-story, six-bedroom house on King Road. The two returned to Kernodle’s residence around 1:45 a.m., police said.

“That’s a time frame where we’re going to try and make sure we get as much factual evidence as possible,” Snell said. “Any dealings that might have happened there, anything that might have been unusual there, and then, of course, that meant going home.”

Police said Goncalves and Mogen were together at the Corner Club bar between 10:00 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. and then stopped at a food truck downtown. Police said they were walking home from a “private party” about a mile away and arrived around 1:56 a.m.

Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., Goncalves and Mogen each made several calls from their cell phones to a man who police have not identified but said they do not believe was involved in the crime. Alivia Goncalves said the “New York Times” newspaper. the calls were made to her sister’s ex-boyfriend, who declined a Times request to talk about the calls. Kylie Goncalves was known for making frequent late-night phone calls, her sister said.

Meanwhile, the two surviving roommates, Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke, were driving around Moscow separately that night, each returning home around 1 a.m., police said. Police said Mortensen and Funke had bedrooms on the first floor of the home and apparently slept through the crime and didn’t wake up until the next morning.

Each of the victims was “probably asleep” in their beds and died of multiple stab wounds, according to Lata County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt. Police declined to say which victims were found on the second floor and which on the third floor.

‘Long Ways to Go’

Just before noon on Sunday, Nov. 13, a roommate’s cell phone was used from inside the home to call 911 to report an unconscious person. After friends were invited to the home, the dispatcher spoke with several people during the call, police said.

Police declined to identify how many people were in the home when they arrived, nor to release their cellphones. Moscow police have also denied repeated public records requests by various media outlets, including the Statesman, for the audio of the 911 call, citing the ongoing investigation.

“The 911 call has information that we do not want to release at this time,” Snell said.

But the lack of new public details, four weeks after the students’ deaths, has alarmed family members of the victims and raised further concerns that police are falling short in the investigation. Not so, said Snell, who again tried to reassure members of the community that there is a lot of work to be done and that their investigation is far from concluding the disturbance.

“We are not close to the end of the investigation,” he said. “It’s like an iceberg: you don’t see everything at the bottom. But it’s going on 24/7 and we’ve been dedicated 24/7 for three weeks, almost four weeks. We are still working hard on this case and we still have a long way to go.”

Reporter Angela Palermo contributed.

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