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No suspects, murder weapon or motive: Mystery of four university students killed in their beds

The grey house with its Christmas wreath and twinkling fairy lights hanging from the back patio could have been any other student residence in Moscow, Idaho.

The ground is covered in snow, and a garbage bag stuffed with beer and seltzer containers is placed near an outdoor grill.

These young women, who lived in the area until recent times, were active members of University of Idaho sororities and often hosted parties.

They shared their daily lives via social media with choreographed videos and photos of group dances, as well as photographs of them dressed up for night out.

Image Kaylee Gorcalves, Maddie Mogen, and Xana Kernodle with Xana’s boyfriend Ethan Chapin

However, four weeks ago, this seemingly idyllic student life was shattered by the brutal murders of Kaylee Goncalves and Maddie Mogen, as well as Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle’s boyfriend.

They were sleeping in their bed when they were attacked with a large knife. Their rooms were covered with blood and they were left with no survivors.

Four weeks later, no witnesses have been identified, there are no suspects, murder weapons, or obvious motives.

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The race to find a killer or killers is starting in Moscow’s small police force. It hadn’t seen a single murder in Moscow for seven years.

Robbie Johnson, the force’s public information officer, said that “it’s difficult to know when or if the town will ever look the same.”

“We can’t afford a mistake”

There are indications that victims’ families and the grief-stricken parents are becoming frustrated by the lack of progress from police. Even though reinforcements from the FBI, Idaho state police are on the way, there are still signs of frustration.

Sky News reports that Ms Johnson has informed Sky News that the decision to withhold information or lines of investigation is deliberate.

Image: Robbie Johnson

She adds, “We don’t want an arrest. We want it to be taken to court.”

“We must be certain that we are reviewing all evidence, and it is extensive. Pictures, emails, and phone calls are coming in. We cannot afford to make a mistake or give out any information that could compromise the investigation.

Although police have stated that they believe the house or its occupants were targeted, they have not explained why.

The place where they were killed

Internet detectives have examined the layout of this building. The ground floor is home to Ethan and Xana, a couple who were believed to have been perfect for each others since the spring.

Kaylee and Maddie were best friends for life, sharing a bedroom upstairs when they were assassinated.

They had been texting Kaylee’s ex-boyfriend in the early hours. Kaylee was still close to him and police dismissed him as a suspect.

The most surprising aspect of this case is the survival of Bethany Funke and Dylan Mortensen, two female housemates who lived in basement bedrooms.

They claim they slept through the attacks, and that when they woke up they summoned their friends to the house to help them.

One of the friends called the police just before noon to report the horror of what had occurred. Police dismissed Dylan, Bethany, and the other friends who came that morning as suspects.

Troy Lambert, a crime writer whose stepson lives less than 100 meters from the murder house, says “The big question”

He adds, “Why would they target young college students who, in my opinion would have no enemies.”

“My stepson’s housemate and his stepson play games and other stuff, so they didn’t hear anything.

“It is surprising that no one heard anything, given the number of students living in this area. This is what makes me believe that they were organised by someone or something because they didn’t make any noise. They were aware that they didn’t need to make noise.”

Image Troy Lambert

The movements and thoughts of Kaylee & Maddie

Investigators claim they are busy putting together the details of what happened in the house and where the victims were during the time leading up to the murders.

Kaylee and Maddie spent the night at Corner Club, a bar with a neon yellow sign and cheap drinks that was just off Moscow’s main street.

They set out at 1am and walked to a nearby food truck. Kaylee can be heard over a livestream as she stumbles through her sentences while ordering a pasta carbonara.

The scene then shows Maddie having a disagreement with a man wearing a hoodie. Maddie gestures to him at one point and then seems to say “f***ing you mister” before all of them disappear.

Image: Photos taken at the food truck

According to police, they also dismissed him as a suspect.

According to reports, Kaylee’s parents thought she was the primary victim based on the information they were given about her injuries relative to other victims.

They now doubt that this is true.

Shanon Gray, their lawyer, told Sky News that “I don’t believe that the family believes there was an individual target against their daughter.”

It doesn’t make sense based on the facts presented and other information we have gathered.

“The suspect might have targeted the home because it had all girls and lots of people. It was a social scene.

Five-page-long, detailed list of questions

The Goncalves family hired Mr Gray to press the police for answers. Gray brought a lengthy list of five-page questions to a meeting this week with investigators, but they remain tight-lipped.

He said, “We asked them why they haven’t released more information for the public.” “Down the road, we might look at it and say, “Great job not releasing this information”, or they may regret making those decisions.

“I don’t know if anyone has ever had to handle a murder investigation that involved four college students who were stabbed.

“But they still have to ensure that they are doing the right thing, and we are here to hold them responsible.”

Image: Shanon Gray

The missing 5 hours

The mystery surrounds the fate of Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, the victims of the murders on the night of the killings.

They were there between 8 and 9pm at a party at Sigma Chi fraternity house with its basketball court and stars and stripes flag.

It’s only a five minute walk through an alleyway to the house where they were murdered, but they didn’t arrive home until just after 2am. Police are investigating those five hours.

A violent killer or group of killers continues to terrorize this town of 25,000 people. This includes 11,000 students.

All that is happening in Moscow right now is colored by fear and loss. A large number of police officers patrolled the arena at Kaylee Goncalves’ winter graduation.

“It’s frightening being here”

“I have pepper spray and other self-help items, but it is scary to be here. It doesn’t feel like home anymore. It doesn’t feel secure,” Emma Bartlett, a recent graduate, says. Emma went to junior school together with Kaylee, Maddie, and tutored Ethan in university.

Image Emma Bartlett

She says that he was always smiling, happy, and funny, and she is so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know him.

Students are not the only ones living in fear. Treva Adkins traveled to Moscow to witness Katie’s graduation over the weekend.

Image: Treva Akins

She says, “When we checked in to the Airbnb I was scared to death.” “I made my husband look under the bed and I’m a 43 year old woman.

“I saw that the windows were not locked and it paralysed my body so I shut all windows and closed the curtains. It is terrifying to constantly look over your shoulder.

Moscow’s Christmas tree was lit last week, and it has been a central point for remembering the four students who were killed. The guard rails are decorated with ribbons of colour and notes of reflection.

One reads, “Gone too quickly, Ethan and Xana,” while the other says, “Gone too soon Kaylee, Kaylee, and Madison.” Another reads, “Praying to your family, friends, and for justice.”

The unknowns continue to pile up in a community that is desperate for answers and accountability.


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