(NewsNation) — Moscow, Idaho police began removing personal items from the house where four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death in November.
The four University of Idaho students killed were Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20 and Kaylee Goncalves, 21. The three women were roommates, and Kernodle was dating Chapin.
All four were found dead in an off-campus rental home on Nov. 13. Preliminary findings by a county coroner show they died from stab wounds, and were likely asleep at the time of the attack.
A suspect has not been named yet, stoking fear for many on the campus and in the city of Moscow.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Tuesday police would begin collecting some of the victims’ personal items that are no longer needed for the investigation so they can be returned to the families.
These arrangements were made in coordination with the families, Moscow Police said. The house remains an active crime scene.
Outside of the house, Fry told reporters that some of the items taken were things the family specifically wanted.
“We owe this to the family, we owe this to the victims, we owe this to the community,” he said to reporters Wednesday.
Joseph Scott Morgan, a forensics expert and professor at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, said on “NewsNation Live” that police probably should not have removed the items, though.
“You cannot go back and recreate this to the point. It’s as pristine as you can possibly get it at this moment in time,” Morgan said. “What’s it going to hurt, just to lock it down and have it there for a bit longer, until everything has been exhausted at this point?”
The scene is “just absolutely rife” with DNA evidence, he added.
“I just hope that they’ve collected all the data,” Morgan said. “Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
However, Fry previously said it was important for the police to go in and get the items for the families so they can have those “fond memories” back.
“I’m a dad, I understand the meaning behind some of those things,” Fry said. “We’re just trying to bring some of that healing.”
In the meantime, he said, law enforcement is still investigating.
“We’re still gathering information. We’re still gathering tips. We’re still gathering evidence. We’re still doing everything we need to do,” Fry said.