Chief James Fry of the Moscow, Idaho, police department (R) speaks to reporters Sunday about their ongoing investigation into the grisly stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students. Image courtesy of University of Idaho/YouTube
Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A week after four University of Idaho students were brutally stabbed to death at their off-campus residence while two other roommates were seemingly sound sleep has police on Sunday asking the public for patience as they work to identify a suspect.
The grisly murders occurred early Nov. 13 at a King Road residence in the small city of Moscow, home to some 25,850 people located on the Idaho-Washington border.
The Latah County coroner has confirmed the cause and manner of death as homicide by stabbing. All four were likely asleep when the attack occurred. Some of the victims had suffered defensive wounds with each having been stabbed multiple times, the coroner said.
The victims have been identified as roommates Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20. Kernodle's boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 21, was a visitor to the home and was the fourth victim. All four were University of Idaho students.
The bodies were found by police responding to a 911 call from the residence before noon Sunday concerning an unconscious person.
Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry told reporters during a press conference on Sunday that they are using all available resources to bring this case to a close.
"This incident has shaken our community, has continued to shake our community," he said. "It is a complex and terrible crime and it will take some time to resolve."
Col. Kedrick Wills, director of the Idaho State Police, reiterated this plea to the public, while asking them to refrain from spreading any information that does not come directly from law enforcement.
"We know that people want answers. We want answers too," he said. "Please be patient. I understand that everybody wishes that this was solved already, but these things take time."
With the murders now a week old, there appeared to be more questions than answers, with Fry telling reporters Sunday that he didn't know how the four students were killed without the two other roommates who were at home and sleeping during the crime noticing.
"And that's why we're continuing to investigate," he said.
Fry added that the 911 call on Sunday came from the phone of one of the surviving roommates, though he would not say if either of them were who made the call. He added that by the time officers arrived at the residence there were other people also there, though he could say how many there were.
"Honestly, I'm not quite sure at this time to be quite honest," he said, adding that police do not believe the person who made the call to have been the killed.
Police said that on the night of the crime Goncalves and Mogen had been at The Corner Club, a local bar, from about 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. before they were seen on video at a local food truck, after which a private party drove them to their residence at 1:45 a.m.
Chapin and Kernodle that night had been at a Sigma Chia house party and arrived at the King Road home at about the same time.
The surviving two roommates had also been out that night, but returned home at around 1 a.m., Capt. Roger Lanier of the operations department at the Moscow Police Department told reporters Sunday.
He said the two roommates and the person who drove Goncalves and Mogen home are believe not to have been involved in the crime.
Fry also confirmed to reporters that several calls were made early Sunday from the phones of Goncalves and Mogen to a unidentified male subject but there is no connection between this person and the murders, he said.
The press conference was held after police on Wednesday warned that there may be a threat to the community following days of stating there was no immediate threat to the public.
Police have described the attack as targeted.
"We believe they are targeted because we take a totality of the circumstances that we're looking at," Fry explained Sunday. "Do we know any one person that was targeted? We're not able to say at this point and time due to our investigation."