- Authorities are looking for more leads in the fatal stabbing of an Idaho college student.
- Authorities say two other innocuous roommates could be ‘important’ to the investigation.
- The victim’s father said his daughter had fought off the killer during the stabbing: ‘She’s a tough kid.’
An investigation into the murder of four University of Idaho students believed to have been stabbed to death while sleeping in their beds has sparked outrage among residents and officials trying to uncover a mystery that has gripped the country. Attracted attention all over.
Sunday’s crime spree rippled through the college town of Moscow, a city of about 26,000 people near the Idaho-Washington state border. There have been no murders in Moscow for almost five years.
Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told NewsNation that the victims were stabbed to death in their beds and it was likely that they were asleep. Mabbutt later told CNN that she saw “a lot of blood on the wall” when she arrived at the scene.
“Somebody has to be very angry to kill four people,” Mabbutt told the cable news channel. He said the victims were stabbed in the chest and upper body.
The coroner said that the stab wounds on the hands of at least one victim appeared to be defensive wounds and that there were no signs of sexual assault.
“We’re looking for additional tips and leads,” Aaron Snell, a spokesman for the Idaho State Police, told CNN on Friday. “We believe that the release of information about the locations of victims overnight may generate some information that we can follow up on.”
Snell argues that the incident was “targeted” but would not say why state and federal authorities are now looking into who killed the students.
Here’s what we know so far:
Who are the victims?
The four students have been identified as Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho. Each was either in a fraternity or sorority and Cernodal and Gonçalves were roommates.
Xana Kernodle’s distraught father, Jeffrey Kernodle, told Phoenix TV station KTVK/KPHO that he spoke to his daughter on the phone before she was killed.
“I think midnight was the last we heard from her, and she was fine,” Jeffrey Karnold told the station. The victim’s father said that he could not understand why his daughter and her roommates were killed.
“They were just hanging out at home. Zana was just hanging out at home with her boyfriend,” Kurnodl said. The father said that his daughter and Chapin had a really strong bond.
Saying that the murders “make no sense,” Kernodle told the station that the door to his daughter’s off-campus residence opened with a number code.
“So, they either knew it, or they just went around and found the slider [sliding door] Open,” said Kurnodl.
The father said the autopsy showed his daughter fought with her killer, sharing a description similar to that made by the coroner.
“Scratched, torn with a knife. She’s a tough kid,” Kurnodle said. “She could do whatever she wanted to do.”
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Police released new information
Moscow Police Chief James Fry said on Wednesday that authorities had not identified the suspect nor found the blade used to stab the students. But the Idaho Statesman reported this week that police are looking for a military-style knife in connection with the murders.
This is similar to County Coroner Mabbutt telling NewsNation that the killer likely used a “very large knife”.
Authorities on Friday released a map and timeline of the victims’ whereabouts last Saturday. The map shows that the four students spent most of the night apart before meeting at home.
Chapin and Kurnodle attended a party at Chapin’s fraternity house from about 8 pm to 9 pm. Goncalves and Mogen were at a sports bar between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. They picked up food from a food truck at 1:40 a.m. before going home.
According to multiple reports, officials say the four victims were back home at 1:45 a.m. Sunday.
Fry, who initially said there was no threat to the community, had a different tone later in the week.
“Like we’ve said, please be vigilant, report any suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.”
Was anyone else at home at the time?
Authorities said two other female roommates were found naked in the house. Moscow police chief Fry declined to say Wednesday whether they were able to provide an account of the killings, say who called 911.
When a reporter described the surviving roommates as witnesses, Fry clarified: “I don’t think I ever said they were witnesses. I said they were there.”
Fry said the home had no signs of forced entry and found a door open when officers first arrived on the scene.
Idaho police spokeswoman Snell told ABC News later Thursday that two other people inside the home could be important to the investigation. Snell said the roommates are cooperating with investigators and can help with a timeline.
“Potentially they are witnesses, potentially they are victims,” Snell said. “Potentially they are the key to this whole thing.”
Fry has said that officials cannot say if there is no other threat to the community.
“We still believe this is a targeted attack,” Fry said. “But the reality is that there is still one person out there who committed four very terrible, terrible crimes.”
Contributing: Associated Press, CNN, ABC, Idaho Statesman, KTVB and KTVK/KPHO