[Follow the latest news in the deaths of four University of Idaho students.]
MOSCOW, Idaho – Four University of Idaho students were found dead near campus in what a local official described Monday as a “crime of passion.”
Art Bettge, the mayor of Moscow, Idaho, said in an interview that authorities are still investigating the incident but that the case is being treated as a homicide. He said authorities did not believe there was a “reasonable risk to the public,” but declined to say how the victims were killed or the suspect’s whereabouts.
“Because of the size, it’s very difficult to work with,” Mr. Bettge said, adding that police needed time to piece together what happened. “The whole analysis is that it is a crime of passion,” he said.
Authorities said they responded to a “person unknown” call on Sunday and found four people dead – three women and one man – at a home near the University of Idaho. On Monday, they identified the victims as Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash.; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Ariz.; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.
Cathy Mabbutt, the Latah County coroner, said that all four deaths were being treated as homicides and that it was not a murder-suicide. Ms. Mabbutt said her office planned to conduct an investigation on Wednesday. He said he could not talk about how people were killed without permission from the police.
The University of Idaho confirmed that all those affected were students and canceled classes on Monday.
“Words cannot adequately describe the light these students brought to this world or ease the pain we feel at their deaths in these tragic circumstances,” Scott Green, the university’s president, said in a speech to students and staff.
What You Should Know About Idaho Killings
Authorities are still piecing together what happened at a home near the University of Idaho, where four students were found dead.
- Victims: Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves were found dead on November 13, in what the local mayor described as a “crime of passion.”
- Fear in College Town: Weeks after the fatal shooting, the college town of Moscow, Idaho, remains shaken as the killer remains on the loose.
- Threats Remain?: As police struggled to identify a suspect, officials said they could not rule out a threat to the community.
- Key Facts: Detectives, cybercriminals and relatives of the dead have been trying to find out who might have been responsible for killing the students. Here’s what we know.
The death occurred the same day as a shooting at the University of Virginia that killed three members of the university’s football team and wounded two others. The campus was locked down for 12 hours before police announced that the suspect, a 22-year-old student, had been arrested and charged.
Nestled in the rolling wheat fields across the border from Pullman, Wash., home to the largest Washington State University, Moscow is a college town of about 25,000 people. More than 10,000 students are enrolled at the University of Idaho campus, which focuses primarily on engineering and agriculture. The city has not recorded a homicide since 2015.
The killing took place at a house in the area below the water tower with the university’s logo. On Monday, police tape surrounded the gray house with several cars parked in front. Some of the students who live in the area said they are leaving the city, afraid of what happened.
Paige Carter, a public relations major who lives in a nearby apartment, said she and her roommate headed to the airport. Several of his neighbors had already left.
“We are just afraid of the situation,” he said. “We haven’t really heard much information yet. So we don’t really know what to think.”
Bailey Briggs, an environmental science major who lives in a neighboring building, said she first learned about the issue through a university alert but has received little information on the issue since then.
Although police say there is no imminent threat, he said, many people are worried. “They say he is a murderer — they are 100 percent sure that he is a murderer,” he said. But ‘there is no threat.’ Like, what does that mean?”
In a message on Monday night, the sister of Ms. Kernodle, Jazzmin Kernodle, said she and her family were “confused and anxiously waiting” for an update on the investigation.
“They didn’t tell us much except that it was a homicide,” he said of the police. “We’re looking forward to more tomorrow.”
University officials said counseling resources are available for students and staff. A candlelight vigil is planned.
The four victims all appeared to be close friends and were involved in fraternities and sororities on campus, according to their online profiles.
On the same day of the killing, one of the victims, Ms. Goncalves, posted a photo on Instagram in which she and the other three victims met together. In the photo, Ms. Mogen wears an “Idaho” sweatshirt and sits on Ms. Goncalves’ shoulders, while Mr. Chapin wraps his arm around Ms. Kernodle.
About two weeks ago, Ms. Kernodle had sent a series of photos with Mr. Chapin for his birthday, including one in which the two appeared to be dressed in party clothes as antagonists from the movie “Ratatouille,” and Mr. Chapin is dressed as a cook and Mrs. Kernod as the man’s friend and co-worker, a mouse.
“Life is much better for you,” Ms. Kernodle wrote in a series of pictures.
Jazzmin Kernodle said her sister was “beautiful, funny and loved by everyone who met her,” adding: “She made me a proud big sister, and I wish I had more time with her. She had so much life left.”
She said the three other victims were close friends to her sister, and that her sister was “lucky to have them in her life.”
Egann Willis, who used to study with Mr. Chapin at Mount Vernon High School in Washington State, said that Mr. Chapin was a great basketball player for the Bulldogs school team, and he graduated in 2021 before going to the University of Idaho.
“Ethan was the kind of kid who lit up a room and always had a smile on his face,” Mr. Willis said. “None of us can believe that this really happened to an innocent person.”
“Ethan was very special,” said Jacob Perez, who first met Mr. Chapin when they were kids playing sports together and went to high school with him. “I don’t think I have a video or a picture of him not tapping his ear or doing something disgusting.”
Mr. Perez also said that he is in the dark about what happened and is struggling to understand. “He had everything going for him,” Mr. Perez said. “It’s a shame.”
Jackie Fischer, owner of the Mad Greek restaurant in Moscow, said that Mrs. Kernodle and Mrs. Mogen had been servers there for a few years, working there two or three days a week.
Ms. Fischer said Ms. Mogen, who according to the university was a senior marketing officer, had helped her with the restaurant’s social media.
“I have a staff of 20 or more people who are confused and trying to figure out what happened,” said Ms. Fischer. “The family situation is working here, and I spent last night calling a lot of frustrated employees.”
Ms. Fischer said she is hosting a dinner Monday night in memory of the victims. “We are mourning together as a family,” he said. “Of course we are panicking.”
Sheelagh McNeill it was useful for research.