Killing 4 University of Idaho students may not be targeted attack, police backing off from previous statement

Police investigating the grisly murders of four University of Idaho students go back to a previous statement, saying it is not known whether the residence where the bodies were found or the occupants were “specifically targeted”.

Friends Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; and Xana Kernodle, 20; and her 20-year-old boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, were found stabbed in an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, on November 13, and their killers remained a mystery.

The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office previously stated that “the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence” and that “one or more people were unquestionably targeted”. On Wednesday, the Moscow Police Department said it was a “miscommunication”.

“Detectives currently do not know whether the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted, but they are continuing to investigate,” the police said.

Flowers were laid at a temporary commemoration of four University of Idaho students who were murdered in Moscow, Idaho.Tim Stelloh / NBC News

NBC News reached out to the Latah County Attorney’s Office for clarification on their statement.

Moscow Police had also previously described the killings as a “targeted attack” carried out with a “sharp weapon” on November 15, two days after the bodies were found. Investigators did not explain the basis for this initial conclusion.

It’s been nearly three weeks since the murders, described by a local coroner as one of the most “horrific” he’s ever seen, leave families and the public with many questions.

This is not the first time that a police force of 36 police and staff in Moscow’s largely rural city of about 26,000 people has sent mixed messages about the incident.

Another point where the police take a step back is whether they are a threat to society.

Hours after the victims’ bodies were found in their private residence about half a block from the university, Moscow police told the public that “no one is in custody” but the ministry “does not believe there is an ongoing community”. risk.”

Two days later, officials continued to say there was “no imminent threat”.

But that changed the next day: “We can’t say there is no threat to society,” said Moscow Police Chief James Fry at a press conference on 16 November.

Law enforcement experts say such vague responses may have given the person who fatally stabbed the students more time to escape.

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