MOSCOW, Idaho (NewsNation) — As the search for suspects continues in the killings of four college students in Idaho, a void of new information is being filled by unfounded accusations from armchair detectives.
Some people in the city of about 25,000 are suggesting innocent individuals are responsible for the murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. All four were stabbed to death in a rental home near the University of Idaho campus. Some have even pointed fingers and named names.
A man dubbed “The Hoodie Guy” by online detectives has been a source of speculation. Law enforcement in Moscow says they are aware of that rumor. A neighbor has also felt the wrath of online speculation. Police have cleared both individuals.
California father Darnell Hicks knows all too well how this works in the age of social media. After two deputies were shot, his phone blew up after someone in Malaysia began claiming on the internet that Hicks was the gunman.
And the re-posts quickly piled up.
”Whoever keeps framing me … making it seem like I shot two sheriffs when I was out dirt biking all Saturday … Come on now,” he said.
Retired FBI agent Kathy Guider says not only does this kind of speculation have the potential to ruin lives, it slows down investigations.
”Somebody’s got to track [the unfounded internet postings] through those threads. And sometimes those threads are hundreds, sometimes thousands of comments, and somebody’s then got to go read them,” she said.
Hicks went on to file libel lawsuits against three people who posted on social media, along with suits against Facebook and Twitter.