4 University of Idaho students likely murdered in sleep, coroner reveals; vigil planned

The murdered University of Idaho students (from L-R) Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; and Xana Kernodle, 20.
The murdered University of Idaho students (from L-R) Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; and Xana Kernodle, 20. | YouTube/KTVB

Four University of Idaho students who were stabbed to death inside a home they shared in Moscow were likely attacked in their sleep, investigators revealed Sunday as security officials, including the FBI, continue a feverish hunt to find their killers.

“This incident has shaken our community, has continued to shake our community, and we continue to mourn for the victims. We will continue to vigorously pursue the investigation and pursue justice in this case,” Chief James Fry of the Moscow Police Department said at a news conference on Sunday. “It is a complex and terrible crime, and it will take some time to resolve.”

Police have identified the four students as Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. Two roommates who slept through the attack and survived were not identified.

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Capt. Roger Lanier, who oversees operations for the Moscow Police Department, said that on the evening of Nov. 12, Goncalves and Mogen were at a local bar and later spotted at a food truck in downtown Moscow. They arrived home at approximately 1:45 a.m. on Nov. 13. Chapin and Kernodle, who were dating at the time of their death, were at the Sigma Chi fraternity before also arriving home at about 1:40 a.m.

“Two surviving roommates were also out in the community, and they returned home at approximately 1 a.m. and did not wake up until later that morning,” Lanier said.

Local police received a 911 call from the house at about 11:58 a.m. on Nov. 13, reporting “an unconscious person.” The call, said Lanier, “was made from the phone of one of the surviving roommates.”

When Moscow police officers responded to the call, they found two murdered students on the second floor and two on the third floor.

Autopsies conducted by Latah County coroners ruled that the victims we likely asleep when attacked, and defensive wounds found on some of the victims suggest they may have tried to fight back.

“We know that the autopsies confirmed the identity of the four victims, determined the cause and manner of death as homicide by stabbing, and determined that it was likely all four victims were asleep during the attack,” Lanier said. “Some of the victims had defensive wounds, and each victim was stabbed multiple times.”

Investigators said there were no signs any victims were sexually assaulted and no evidence suggesting that the two surviving roommates were involved in the attack.

According to the University of Idaho, Chapin was a freshman from Mount Vernon, Washington, and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management. Kernodle was a junior from Post Falls majoring in marketing and a Pi Beta Phi sorority member. Mogen was a senior from Coeur d’Alene majoring in marketing. Goncalves was a senior from Rathdrum, majoring in general studies.

Investigators said they had received more than 600 tips to help locate the perpetrators and will process all of them. They urged the public to call their tip line at 208-883-7180 or email with any information they believe can help them solve the crime.

A candlelight vigil for the students will be held at the school on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Since the murders, many students have fled the town, and some, like Emma Vigil, a senior, don’t plan on returning until police have a suspect in custody.

“I don’t know how anyone is supposed to feel safe or go back,” Vigil, who lives just feet away from the house where the four students were killed, told CNN. “All of my friends have left.”

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