Police chief insists early Idaho investigations were proper

(NewsNation) — Moscow, Idaho, Police Chief James Fry told NewsNation in a one-on-one interview he believes the initial hours of the investigation into the deaths of four college students were handled properly, in response to concerns about the investigation’s stability.

The family of one of the victims, Kaylee Goncalves, felt police were too quick to rule out some people as suspects in the case, telling NewsNation they believe she may have had a stalker. Police have since said they cannot verify that Goncalves had a stalker.

NewsNation’s Brian Entin interviewed Fry on Thursday and asked if he felt the first 48 hours of the investigation were handled properly.

“I do think they were handled properly,” Fry said. “We secured the scene quickly, we called in the state police, we did our due diligence in getting the things that we needed to do to have this be a solid case all the way through. We called in the state lab to collect evidence and I believe it was the initial stuff that we started and how we did things that will help bring this to a conclusion.”

Fry said police will continue to keep information from the public as they continue the investigation.

Those critical of the investigation have said the tight-lipped nature of the probe has allowed speculation to grow online among true-crime sleuths, arguing it can put innocent people at risk and slow down the investigation.

Dr. Casey Jordan, a criminologist and professor of justice and law administration at Western Connecticut State University, watched Fry’s interview and believes he’s stumped.

“I believe he’s being truthful when he says, ‘We really don’t know,'” Jordan said on “Dan Abrams Live.”

Investigators have conducted hundreds of interviews and waded into a flood of tips from the community and across the country.

The Moscow Police Department has been working with federal agencies, which Fry said is common in big cases, dismissing rumors that their presence is a signal the case has taken a turn for the worse.

“I think there’s some misconception out there with how we operate here in Moscow,” Fry said. “We’ve called in ATF in the past, we’ve called in the FBI in the past on many of these big cases because they have resources that we don’t, and we want to have the best investigators there.”

Along with federal agents, the Idaho State Police are also part of the investigation into the deaths of Goncalves, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; and Xana Kernodle, 20. They were killed in a house near the University of Idaho on Nov. 13.

A white Hyundai Elantra has become a focal point of the investigation, and the public’s attention. One car that met the description was identified in Oregon, but investigators have since determined it’s not connected to the killings.

Fry asked that people call in if they think they have spotted the car in question.

“We appreciate all the tips that we’ve gotten, not just from local Moscow but across the nation, and we’re following up on all those,” the chief said.

Information can be submitted to detectives in the following ways:

Tip Line: 208-883-7180

Email: tipline@ci.moscow.id.us

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