What we know and don’t know about the Idaho college killings

Idaho College Killings

(NewsNation) — Now one month into the investigation, police are still investigating the deaths of four Idaho college students who were stabbed to death on Nov. 13.

The small community of Moscow, Idaho, has been searching for answers in the deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. The four students were found dead in a home near campus.

Here’s what we know and don’t know about the case.

What happened to the four students?

On the morning of Nov. 13, police in Moscow responded to a call for an unconscious person. They discovered the four deceased students and determined that the victims had been stabbed to death.

Who were the victims?

Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle were roommates and Chapin was Kernodle’s boyfriend. All four were members of fraternities or sororities. Chapin attended the university with his brother and sister and his mother described the triplets as “inseparable.”

Mogen and Goncalves grew up together and were best friends. Kaylee’s father, Steve Goncalves, said the ashes of his daughter and Mogen are being kept next to each other at the Goncalves home.

How were they killed?

A coroner’s report said all four victims were stabbed in the chest and upper body and died from stab wounds. The report said it’s likely the victims were asleep at the time, though some had defensive wounds.

Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told NewsNation it’s possible the victims didn’t wake up because the attacks happened so quickly.

Sources say Goncalves’ injuries were more severe than Mogen’s, though the two were asleep in the same bed when they died.

Do police have a suspect?

No suspect has been named at this time.

Last week, police asked for help locating a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra that was seen near the crime scene on the night in question. Investigators believe the occupant or occupants may have “critical information to share regarding this case.”

Detectives retrieved hours of footage from a Moscow gas station on Tuesday that captured a white sedan speeding by the night of the killings, according to a report. Police now want to speak to the driver.

An overnight assistant manager at the gas station told Fox News she’s been analyzing the tapes during her downtime and claims she saw a white sedan speed by around 3:45 a.m. Nov. 13.

The employee, who requested her name be withheld for her safety while the killer or killers remain on the loose, said on Monday night she spotted the car and emailed a screenshot to a police tip address.

The license plate is currently unknown, but investigators believe the occupant, or occupants, of the car, may have “critical information to share regarding this case.”

How big is the investigation?

The Moscow Police Department has committed six detectives and five support staff to the case. Their communications team is also providing support.

Local law enforcement is joined by 46 FBI investigators in the area and throughout the United States, as well as, two investigators from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Idaho State Police have committed 13 of their own investigators to the case. Those are in addition to the 15 uniformed troopers who are assisting with community patrols. The state forensics lab is working through the evidence that has been gathered.

Is there still a danger to the community?

Police said Monday that there was no indication of a specific, relevant risk to the community but urged people to stay vigilant.

Were the victims targeted?

Police have said they believe the attack was targeted, though there were conflicting statements from the prosecutor’s office. It is possible the home itself may have been targeted, rather than one specific victim.

What happened to the weapon?

Police are still searching for the weapon used in the stabbing, which has been described as a “Rambo-style” knife.

How were the victims found?

One of the surviving roommates in the house discovered them, initially thinking they were passed out and called police. The 911 call has not been released.

Who was in the house during that night?

In addition to the four victims, two other roommates were at the house on the night of Nov. 12 and the early-morning hours of Nov. 13. Police have said a sixth person is on the lease but they don’t think that person was there the night of the attack.

How did the two other roommates survive?

Police have not released any additional details on who may have been the target of the killings, but the layout of the house had bedrooms spread across three different floors. Goncalves, Mogen, Kernodle and Chapin were on the second and third floors, while the two surviving roommates were on the first floor.

How did the killer get into the house?

Police have not said how the killer entered the home. There were two sliding glass doors on the second floor, which could be accessed by a patio and a balcony on the third floor. The third-floor balcony was only accessible from the inside.

What happened the night before the killings?

A timeline constructed by investigators shows all of the victims were out the night of Nov. 12, but had returned home by 1:45 a.m. on Nov. 13.

Mogen and Goncalves hung out at a local bar around 10 p.m. before stopping at a food truck shortly before 2 a.m. and heading home.

Chapin and Kernodle were at a party at the Sigma Chi house earlier in the evening, but police are still looking for more information on their activities throughout the evening.

Police say the stabbing occurred sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Nov. 13.

Who was on the food truck video?

Video showing Goncalves and Mogen at a food truck shortly before they returned home on Nov. 13 circulated online. Police said they cleared all of the people in the footage, including a person in a hoodie seen in the background.

Did Kaylee Goncalves have a stalker?

Goncalves made statements to friends and family suggesting she had a stalker, but police have been unable to verify that information. They did clear two men involved in an incident in which Goncalves was followed out of a local business, and they said they don’t believe that was part of a pattern of stalking.

Police have asked anyone with more information on Goncalves’ possible stalker to share what they know.

Whom were Goncalves and Mogen calling in the early morning hours?

Police say Goncalves and Mogen placed repeated calls to one of Goncalves’ ex-boyfriends. Family said it wasn’t unusual for Goncalves to call people late at night and police said the ex is not a suspect.

Were drugs involved?

Prosecutors told NewsNation they were not aware of any possibility that drugs were involved in the killings or the victims were involved in any kind of drug activity.

Was there a dog in the house?

Goncalves’ dog was in the house at the time of the stabbings and was examined for evidence. None was found and the dog was released to a responsible person.

What evidence was collected from the crime scene?

Police have recovered 113 pieces of physical evidence from the house. The evidence is being processed at the Idaho State Crime Lab. Investigators have also taken approximately 4,000 crime scene photographs.

The four students who were murdered reportedly had their hands bagged at the murder scene to preserve possible DNA evidence.

Forensic expert Joseph Scott Morgan told NewsNation’s “Banfield” that it’s common for perpetrators to unknowingly leave behind hair strands on the victims’ hands. The killer’s skin cells can also become embedded under the nails of their victim.

Who have the police eliminated as suspects?

Police say they’ve eliminated a number of suspects, including the people seen in the Grub Truck video, the two surviving roommates, Goncalves’ ex-boyfriend, the driver who took Goncalves and Mogen home that night, and anyone who was at the house when the 911 call was made.

Why aren’t police releasing more information, like the 911 call or details on alibis?

Family members of the victims have said they want more transparency from the police, but experts say the police are likely withholding information to protect the investigation.

Facts that have not been released could help police verify tips and weed out fake confessions.

Do the odds of finding a suspect decrease as time goes on?

The first 48 hours of an investigation are considered critical, but many cases take much longer to solve. In this case, processing the amount of physical evidence from a busy college house with frequent guests and piecing together the social connections and timelines of the four victims could take a significant amount of time.

Information related to the case can be submitted in the following ways:

Tip Line: 208-883-7180

Email: tipline@ci.moscow.id.us

Digital Media: fbi.gov/moscowidaho 

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