Police believe an “edged weapon” was used to kill four college students who were found in a house near the University of Idaho – deaths that sent shock waves through the campus of about 11,500 students.
“Investigators are continuing to work diligently on establishing a timeline of relevant events to re-create the victims’ activities on the evening of November 12 and early morning of November 13, following all leads and identifying persons of interest,” a police statement says.
Authorities did not provide many additional details, but the Moscow Police Department said in a statement that preliminary information leads investigators to “believe that an edged weapon such as a knife was used.” No weapons linked to the bodies – discovered Sunday after police responded to a report of an unconscious individual – have been found, police said.
Though no suspect is currently in custody, police believe this was “an isolated, targeted attack,” and there is no threat to the campus or surrounding community, they said.
Autopsies are scheduled to be completed later this week, and they should provide more information on the causes of death, the police statement says.
Classes were canceled Monday as officials worked to learn what happened at the home in the city of Moscow, located on the Washington-Idaho border, about 80 miles south of both Spokane, Washington, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“Words cannot adequately describe the light these students brought to this world or ease the depth of suffering we feel at their passing under these tragic circumstances,” school President Scott Green said in a statement.
Here’s what we know about the victims and the investigation:
The students were identified as:
- Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington, was a freshman majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, according to the university.
- Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona, was a junior majoring in marketing and was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, the university said.
- Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, was a senior majoring in marketing and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, the university said.
- Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, was a senior majoring in general studies and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, according to the university.
Officers responded to a call about an unconscious person shortly before noon Sunday and discovered the four bodies, Moscow police said in a news release.
“All I can say is the deaths are ruled a homicide at this point, and homicide and murder are synonymous,” Moscow police Capt. Anthony Dahlinger told the Idaho Statesman. “We certainly have a crime here, so we are looking for a suspect.”
Dahlinger declined to characterize the deaths as violent, and Cathy Mabbutt, the Latah County coroner, told The New York Times the deaths were not a murder-suicide.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 208-882-COPS.
“The Moscow Police Department and the City of Moscow (are) deeply saddened for the families of these individuals, fellow students and friends, and our community during this time,” the police department said.
CNN has reached out to the university and to the police department for more details.
The community response
The students’ deaths are “senseless acts of violence,” Moscow Mayor Art Bettge said.
“This tragedy serves as a sobering reminder that senseless acts of violence can occur anywhere, at any time, and we are not immune from such events here in our community,” the mayor said. “Let us come together in support of each other, and be there for each other, as we mourn as a community.”
The university set up counseling resources for students and employees, Green, the school president, said in his statement. School officials are working with students to set up a candlelight vigil later this week.
“As Vandals, we come together and support one another through challenging times, leaning into our collective strength. Look out for one another now,” Green said.
CNN’s Andi Babineau, Caroll Alvarado and Danielle Sills contributed to this report.