Update: The suspect in the slaying of 4 University of Idaho students has been arrested and identified.
28-year-old Christopher Kohberger was being held for extradition to Idaho to face at least one first degree murder charge, according to the Monroe County Court in Pennsylvania.
Earlier: Authorities have arrested a suspect in the November 13th murders of four college students in Idaho.
A man in his 20’s was taken into custody by police and the FBI in Scranton, Pennsylvania, according to Fox News.
The suspect does not attend the University of Idaho.
Shaun Goodwin, Kevin Fixler
The Idaho Statesman
The Christmas break has not yielded much new information from police in the investigation into the fatal stabbings of four University of Idaho students.
Developments have occurred, though, including a U of I professor suing an internet sleuth and the Moscow Police Department confirming a car found in Oregon is not connected to the stabbings.
Many details of the case still remain guarded as officials keep certain information confidential to maintain what they refer to as the integrity of the investigation. Police still have not named a suspect and have not found the weapon used in the Nov. 13 quadruple homicide that took the lives of seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington.
Here’s what we know and what has happened since the weekend of Nov. 12-13.
What are the latest developments?
Police continue to seek the public’s help in locating a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra, believing the driver of the vehicle and any passengers might have information about what happened the early morning of Nov. 13. A car fitting that description was found abandoned in Eugene, Oregon, but police have since contacted the owner, and said she and the vehicle are not connected to the case.
A U of I professor filed a defamation lawsuit against a Texas-based TiKTok personality on Friday. Ashley Guillard, a self-described internet sleuth with more than 105,000 followers, posted six videos on her account claiming that history chair Rebecca Scofield was in a romantic relationship with Goncalves and is responsible for the four deaths.
On Tuesday, Moscow police said they do not at this time believe Scofield was involved in the crime. The local police department declined to wade into the ongoing civil court process.
In the past few days, the ride-share driver who took Goncalves and Mogen home the morning of the killings also spoke to two media outlets Friday. NewsNation and The Daily Mail each reported that the man, referred to by police as a “private party” in shuttling the two young women home, agreed to speak with them on the condition of anonymity.
He said that he was familiar with both Goncalves and Mogen, as well as Kernodle, from prior ride-share trips, and that he noticed “nothing out of the ordinary about that night” of Nov. 13, according to The Daily Mail. Police have said they do not believe he was involved in the crime.
“It was just a normal night up on Greek row,” he told NewsNation. “I mean, you could hear the thumping (of music) from the frat houses down the street, but that’s pretty normal.”
What happened the weekend of the killings?
Shortly before noon Pacific time on Sunday, Nov. 13, Moscow police officers responded to a 911 call about an unconscious person in a house near campus. They walked in to find the four victims’ bodies. Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt reported that the students had been stabbed to death with a large, fixed-blade knife in the early morning hours.
The coroner’s report did not include times of death, and police told the Statesman that they have yet to settle on a more exact time frame for the attack than between 2:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Autopsies confirmed that all four students died from multiple stab wounds and were likely asleep when the attacks started. Some victims showed defensive wounds, however. None of the victims showed signs of sexual assault, according to the coroner.
There was no sign of forced entry, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said at a press conference on Nov. 16. Police are still trying to determine the actual entry point the killer likely used, a spokesperson told the Statesman.
Goncalves’ father, Steve Goncalves, revealed at a memorial vigil on Nov. 30 that his daughter and Mogen died together. The two victims had been close friends since sixth grade.
“They went to high school together,” he said in a speech at the University of Idaho’s Kibbie Dome. “Then they started looking at colleges. They came here together. They eventually get into the same apartment together. And in the end, they died together, in the same room, in the same bed.”
The three female victims — Kernodle, Mogen and Goncalves — lived at the King Road home with at least two other roommates, both of whom went unharmed. Letters from those two roommates, Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke, were read at a memorial in Post Falls on Dec. 2.
Chapin was staying the night with Kernodle, whom he was dating, according to family.
Where did the 911 call come from?
Police revealed that the 911 call was made from inside the house and from one of the surviving roommates’ cellphones. They summoned friends to the house because they believed one of the victims on the second floor had passed out and was not waking up. Multiple people talked with the 911 dispatcher before officers arrived, the Moscow Police Department said.
The two surviving roommates had been out the night of Nov. 12, but not together. Police have said both were home by about 1 a.m. and “did not wake up until later that morning.”
Police said they are aware of a sixth person listed on the lease in the six-bedroom home, but that person was not present on the night of the stabbings and police “do not believe this person has any involvement.” That person moved out of the home prior to the start of the school year, police said.
Mortensen and Funke had bedrooms on the first floor, police said. The victims were found on the second and third floors — two on each. Police have not specified which victims were where.
Shelter-in-place order the day of the killings
The U of I told people to “stay away from the area and shelter in place” at 2:07 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 13 as the police department investigated a homicide. Nearly 90 minutes later, the university tweeted that the shelter-in-place order was lifted, but called for Moscow residents to “remain vigilant.”
According to the U of I website, a shelter-in-place order can be issued by the University Office of Public Safety and Security in response to a hazardous spill, hostile intruder or weather emergency. An order is sent out using the Vandal Alert system. It requires students, faculty and visitors to take refuge in an interior room with no or few windows.
You can sign up for the Vandal Alert System online to receive future alerts.
Do police know why this happened?
Police have given little information about a possible motive for the killings, but have repeatedly said they believe it to be a “targeted attack.” They have declined to provide further information about that.
“To be honest, you’re going to have to trust us on that at this point because we’re not going to release why we think that,” Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier said at a press conference after the killings.
At another press conference, Fry declined to say whether police believe the attack was carried out by a single person or multiple people, and could not say whether one of the victims was explicitly targeted.
Police asked for the public’s help on Dec. 7 in locating the white Hyundai, although they do not know the vehicle’s license plate. Police said the vehicle was in the vicinity of the King Road residence in which the students were killed.
What were the victims doing before the attack?
Kernodle and Chapin were at a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house — less than a 600-foot walk from the house on King Road — and returned home at about 1:45 a.m. that Sunday, police said.
Goncalves and Mogen spent the evening at the Corner Club bar before stopping at a food truck parked downtown on the way home. They used the “private party” for a ride home from the food truck, police said. Both women were home at around 1:56 a.m., police said.
Multiple calls were made from Goncalves’ and Mogen’s cellphones between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. to a male who did not answer. Goncalves’ sister, Alivea Goncalves, said the calls were made to her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Her sister was known for frequently making late-night phone calls, she told The New York Times.
A nearby neighbor told the Statesman that it was unusually quiet on the night of the killings. Anna C., who declined to provide her last name, said she and her boyfriend would oftentimes wear earplugs to bed because of nearby parties from the local college students.
But on the night of the killings, she said she woke up at 2 a.m. because her dog began heaving. Anna told the Statesman that she couldn’t fall back asleep until about 5 a.m., and noticed that she did not hear anything overnight.
Have police cleared anyone?
Detectives have said they do not believe that the two surviving roommates, the sixth roommate on the lease, or any individuals summoned to the household on the morning of the deaths were involved.
The police also cleared a male singled out in surveillance footage of the Grub Truck food truck, the ride-share driver who took Goncalves and Mogen home early that morning, and the male called by Goncalves and Mogen several times.
The Latah County Sheriff’s Office and Moscow police have addressed numerous rumors and questions surrounding the homicides. This included a reported incident involving a dog attacked with a knife elsewhere in Moscow that the sheriff’s office said was unrelated.
Moscow police also said that the Moscow stabbings are not tied to a 1999 double stabbing in Pullman, Washington, or a 2021 double stabbing in Salem, Oregon.
On Nov. 23, Lanier first acknowledged that police had been unable to validate reports that Goncalves had a stalker. Police later elaborated on what could have led to the reports.
“In mid-October, two males were seen inside a local business; they parted ways, and one male appeared to follow Kaylee inside the business and as she exited to walk toward her car,” they said in a press release. “The male turned away, and it did not appear he made any contact with her.”
Police also said a February 2022 death in Moscow was not related to the quadruple homicide. Police said the Latah County Coroner’s Office ruled that death an overdose. The coroner’s office and the Moscow Police Department each denied public records requests from the Statesman for more information in that case, citing an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
Reports that a red Mustang on South Deakin Street was being processed as part of the investigation were not true; the vehicle “is not connected to this incident,” police have said.
Moscow police said in a release that an incident at Taylor Avenue and Band Field in the early hours of Nov. 13 was unrelated. That incident was an alcohol-related offense and was addressed by an on-scene officer, according to law enforcement.
What is the school doing?
U of I President Scott Green told students in a memo ahead of Thanksgiving break that the school would “remain flexible” through the end of the semester, and that was what happened.
Drop-in counseling for students through the Counseling and Testing Center remains in place. Students can also make an appointment at (208) 885-6716. The phone line provides 24-hour-a-day access to counselors.
The university’s Safe Walk program is always available. The service allows students, faculty and guests to call (208) 885-7233 and have a campus security officer meet them anywhere on campus and walk them to their destination.
U of I held a candlelight vigil on Nov. 30 inside the university’s Kibbie Dome. More than 1,000 people attended. The families of Chapin, Mogen and Goncalves attended the vigil.
The university has promised extra security personnel for the return of in-person classes in January.