Classes resume Wednesday at the University of Idaho, just weeks after many students abandoned the campus amid anxiety over the lack of an arrest in the gruesome stabbing deaths of four students in November.
The arrest of a suspect over winter break, however, has alleviated many students’ fears, allowing them to walk into classrooms Wednesday with more confidence in their safety. Still, the community’s long-held sense of security has been irrevocably shattered, some university members say.
“It definitely seems like a different place,” sophomore Shua Mulder said to CNN affiliate KXLY. “I’m hanging out with some more people. Definitely staying in groups.”
The university is still mourning the loss of the four students – Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 – who were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home on November 13.
Nearly seven weeks passed without an arrest in the case, leaving the tight-knit campus wracked with unease and uncertainty. The university significantly heightened security measures and gave students the option to leave campus and complete the semester remotely.
So when Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested and named the sole suspect on December 30, students like sophomore Ryder Paslay were offered a little peace of mind.
Paslay was watching the news with his family when he learned of Kohberger’s arrest. “I breathed a sigh of relief and I’m pretty sure my mom did the same thing,” he told KXLY.
Though some security measures implemented after the killings will be scaled down this semester, campus security will remain heightened, the university’s provost and executive vice president Torrey Lawrence told CNN last week. While students still have the option to attend remotely, he said most have returned to campus.
Even so, he said, the “very peaceful, safe community” has experienced a “loss of innocence” in the tragedy’s wake. Before November’s stabbings, Moscow hadn’t seen a murder since 2015.