Idaho police record surge in calls since college murders as students return to Moscow after Thanksgiving

Police in Moscow have been grappling with a surge in calls since four friends were found butchered in their rental home – as the community remains racked by fear and University of Idaho students are set to return to campus with the killer still at large.

It’s now been two weeks since Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death in the off-campus home that the three female students shared in the early hours of 13 November.

No suspects have been identified, no arrests have been made and the murder weapon is still nowhere to be found, leaving the small and notoriously safe college town on edge.

Since 13 November, Moscow Police have received 78 calls for “unusual circumstances” and 36 requests to check the welfare of loved ones, an increase from 70 and 18 respectively in the whole of October, according to data released on Sunday by the department.

Police revealed that, in many cases, the concerned callers had alerted their friends or family members prior to calling authorities.

This echoes what happened in the aftermath of the brutal knife attack when the two surviving roommates woke and called friends to the home before placing a 911 call alerting authorities to the crime scene.

“We understand there is a sense of fear within our community,” police said in a statement.

“As officers respond to these incidents, they find that concerned parties call friends and family before notifying the police. For life-safety and emergencies, we want to remind our community to call 9-1-1 before notifying family or friends. For nonemergency assistance, please call (208) 882-2677 (COPS).”

University of Idaho students are expected to return to campus on Monday following the Thanksgiving break but, with the killer or killers still out there, it remains to be seen how many will come back for in-person lessons.

The Independent previously reported how the small college town had emptied out in the wake of the murders and how those who remained were changing their regular habits and increasing security measures around their homes.

Students have only two weeks of classes left before the university term ends for the winter recess.

College officials have prepared for the likelihood that many students will continue to stay remote until at least the new year, vowing to take a flexible approach to learning.

“Faculty have been asked to prepare in-person teaching and remote learning options so that each student can choose their method of engagement for the final two weeks of the semester,” Scott Green, university president, said in a statement last week.

Law enforcement on the scene of the murders in Moscow, Idaho (Moscow PD)
Law enforcement on the scene of the murders in Moscow, Idaho (Moscow PD)

A university is preparing to hold a vigil on Wednesday in memory of the four victims murdered.

The vigil was originally slated to take place in the days after the murders but was postponed because of the volume of terrified students who upped sticks and fled the town in fear.

In the early days of the investigation, police insisted that there was no threat to the wider public – before dramatically walking back that assertion and admitting that, with a quadruple murderer still at large “there is a threat” and the community should stay “vigilant”.

Investigators continue to say that the killings were targeted but are refusing to say what evidence has led them to that conclusion.

Idaho State Police communications director Aaron Snell told Fox News Digital on Saturday that officials are intentionally withholding information in order to try to catch the killer.

“And so if we just provide information to the public, I just don’t think that that’s going to be a wise choice,” he toldadding that keeping information “from view is going to be critical [in] trying to develop” the investigation in the future.

This includes information around why they believe the murders were targeted and a profile of the killer which is being created by behavioural experts.

Despite these assurances, the grieving father of one of the victims admitted that the lack of contact from law enforcement has left him “definitely concerned”.

Steve Goncalves last heard from law enforcement trying to catch Kaylee Goncalves’ killer at around 5pm on Wednesday (23 November).

On Saturday, he told Fox News that investigators had fallen silent with him ever since.

“Law enforcement told me that they were going to drop off a little bit and not to expect the same type of communication that I had gotten before,” he said.

“They’re kind of just telling me that they can’t tell me much, which is frustrating to me because I’ve been very trustworthy,” adding that he does know some additional information than has been made public.

“I do know things, I haven’t shared things,” he said.

While he said he believes the law enforcement officers working on the case are “hardworking individuals”, he admitted that the silence has left the family “definitely concerned”.

For now, he said he is trying to be patient with the investigation – which is now entering its third week with no arrests made and no suspects identified.

“We’re holding our tongue, we’re waiting patiently, but we’re definitely concerned,” he said.

The four victims are believed to have been stabbed to death in their beds at around 3am or 4am with a fixed-blade knife, police said. There was no signs of sexual assault on any of the victims and the murder weapon – a fixed-blade knife – has not been recovered.

Two of the victims were found on the second floor and two on the third floor of the home.

All four had been out on the Saturday night (12 November).

Kernodle and Chapin were at a sorority party at Sigma Chi house together and arrived back at the home at around 1.45am.

Goncalves and Mogen had spent the night at The Corner Club bar in downtown Moscow, before stopping by a food truck and then getting a ride home from an unnamed “private party”.

Investigators previously said that the two best friends also arrived home at around 1.45am but updated the timeline on Sunday to reveal that they arrived at the property at around 1.56am, citing “digital evidence”.

“Arrival time has been updated based on digital evidence collected by investigators,” authorities said in a statement.

The two surviving roommatres were also out that night and arrived home at around 1am, police said.

The two women, who lived in rooms on the first floor of the home, are believed to have slept through the brutal killings and were unharmed.

The horrific crime scene went unnoticed for several more hours, with police receiving a 911 call at 11.58am on Sunday, reporting an “unconscious individual” at the home.

The two other roommates had first called friends to the home because they believed one of the second floor victims was unconscious and would not wake up. When the friends arrived, a 911 call was made from one of the roommates’ phones.

Police arrived on the scene to find the four victims dead from multiple stab wounds.

While investigators are yet to identify any suspects, they have ruled out several people: the two surviving housemates, the man who was caught on camera with Mogen and Goncalves at a food truck in the downtown area before they headed home on the night of the slayings, the person who gave Mogen and Goncalves a ride home from the food truck, Goncalves’ former long-term boyfriend and the friends who were in the home when the 911 call was made have all been ruled out as suspects.