Police find possible source of University of Idaho victim’s stalker reports, tackle rumors

Ted S. Warren/AP

Three weeks after the four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death in a house near campus, police still have not identified a suspect in the homicides and some victims’ family members appear to have grown increasingly frustrated.

The four victims were U of I seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington.

Police have repeatedly described the crime as “targeted,” but have declined to identify who or what was the target.

Steve Goncalves, father of Kaylee, gave interviews to Fox News saying he believes either his daughter or Mogen were the targets because the “means of death don’t match.” He did not clarify what he meant by that when asked.

Law enforcement tried to clear up speculation by sending out a news release Monday. The Moscow Police Department said it has “not released additional facts to the family or the public,” suggesting that speculation based on comments made by family members may not be accurate.

“The Moscow Police Department is committed to providing information whenever possible but not at the expense of compromising the investigation and prosecution,” the release said.

Detectives are also continuing to investigate what occurred from approximately 9 p.m. Nov. 12 to 1:45 a.m. Nov. 13 when Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were believed to be at a campus fraternity party.

Kernodle’s mother said that she and Kernodle’s father believe the couple may have gone to a bar after the party, according to a NewsNation interview.

Police track stalker rumors

Police believe they may have found the incident that led to reports of Goncalves having a stalker.

“In mid-October, two males were seen inside a local business; they parted ways, and one male appeared to follow Kaylee inside the business and as she exited to walk toward her car,” police said. “The male turned away, and it did not appear he made any contact with her.”

Upon contacting the two people involved, detectives learned, and were able to corroborate with additional evidence, that the males were “attempting to meet women at the business,” the police news release said. No evidence suggests they were involved with the stabbings, according to police.

Dog not located with bodies

The public has been concerned about the dog that lived at the residence and belonged to one of the victims. People posted on social media about the dog, and police said they received “numerous” inquiries about it.

Officers found the dog in a room where the crimes were not committed but do not know where it was at the time of the killings, according to a news release. They found no evidence on the dog. The pet was taken to Animal Services until a “related party” picked it up.

Aaron Snell, spokesperson with the Idaho State Police, declined to answer questions from the Idaho Statesman about whether the dog was behind a closed door, who owned the dog and who picked up the dog.

Police continue to ask for tips

Law enforcement continues to press the community for tips. Police are asking for any information about Kernodle and Chapin’s “interactions, contacts, direction and method of travel or anything abnormal (that) could add context to what occurred.”

They are also looking for photos, videos or information about specific areas related to the victims and the crime, including the fraternity party, the downtown bar and an area south of the King Road home.

We believe someone has information that will add context to the picture investigators are creating of what occurred that evening,” police said. “Our focus is the investigation, not the activities. Your information, whether you believe it is significant or not, might be one of the puzzle pieces that help solve these murders.”

So far they’ve collected:

  • 2,645 email tips

  • 2,770 phone tips

  • 1,084 digital media submissions

More information on how to submit tips and the areas in which police are looking can be found here.