New details about student deaths in Idaho, but police are looking for more

  • Authorities are looking for more leads in the fatal stabbings of Idaho college students.
  • Authorities say two other unharmed roommates could be “key” to the investigation.
  • The victim’s father said his daughter probably had a fight with the killer during a stabbing: “She’s a tough kid.”

The investigation into the murder of four University of Idaho students who were allegedly stabbed to death as they slept in their beds has left residents shaken and authorities trying to unravel a growing mystery attention across the country.

Sunday’s crime reverberated through the college town of Moscow, a town of about 26,000 near the Idaho-Washington state border. Moscow hasn’t had a murder for about five years.

The victims were stabbed to death in their beds and were likely asleep, Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told NewsNation. Mabbutt would later tell CNN that she saw “a lot of blood on the wall” when she arrived at the scene.

“It has to be someone angry enough to stab four people to death,” Mabbutt told the cable news channel. The victims were stabbed in the chest and upper body, she said.

The coroner added that the stab wounds to the hands of at least one victim appear to be defensive wounds and there were no signs of sexual assault.

“We are seeking additional guidance and leads,” Idaho State Police spokesman Aaron Snell told CNN on Friday. “We believe that posting information about the location of victims throughout the night could generate information that we can follow up on.”

Snell argues the incident was “targeted” but would not say why, as state and federal authorities are now on the hunt for 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, of 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 Kernodle and Gonclaves were roommates.

Jeffrey Kernodle, the distraught father of Xana 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 Kernoldle told the station. The victim’s father said he did not understand why his daughter and her roommates were killed.

“They were just hanging out at home. Xana was just hanging out at home with her boyfriend,” Kernodle said. The father said his daughter and Chapin have a very strong bond.

Adding that the murders “make no sense,” Kernodle told the station that the door to their daughter’s off-campus residence was opened with a digital code.

“So either they knew or they just walked around and found the cursor [sliding door] open,” Kernodle said.

The father said the autopsy shows his daughter likely fought with her killer, sharing a similar description made by the coroner.

“Bruises, torn by the knife. She’s a tough kid,” Kernodle said. “Anything she wanted to do, she could do.”

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Police reveal new details

Authorities have not identified a suspect or found a blade that was used to stab the students, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Wednesday. But the Idaho statesman reported this week that police are looking for a military-style knife in connection with the murders.

It’s similar to Mabbutt, the county coroner, telling NewsNation that the killer likely used a “pretty big 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 reuniting at home.

Chapin and Kernodle attended a party at Chapin’s fraternity house from about 8 to 9 p.m.

Authorities say the four victims were home at 1:45 a.m. Sunday, according to multiple reports.

Fry, who initially said there was no threat to the community, struck a different tone later in the week.

“As we have said, please remain vigilant, report suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.”

Was there anyone else home at the time?

Two other roommates were found unharmed in the house, authorities said. 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 housemates as witnesses, Fry clarified, “I don’t think I ever said they were witnesses. I said they were there.

Fry said there was no sign of forced entry into the home and a door was found open when officers arrived on the scene.

Snell, the Idaho police spokesman, later told ABC News on Thursday that the other two people inside the home could be vital to the investigation. Snell said the housemates have been cooperating with investigators and can help with the schedule.

“Potentially they are witnesses, potentially they are victims,” Snell said. “Potentially they are the key to all of this.”

Fry said authorities cannot say if there is no longer a threat to the community.

“We still believe this is a targeted attack,” Fry said. “But the reality is that there is still one person who has committed four very horrific crimes.”

Contributor: Associated Press, CNN, ABC, Idaho Statesman, KTVB and KTVK/KPHO

USA Today

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