4 weeks later, police still investigating Idaho student slayings: 'Not going cold'

More than a month after the brutal attack that left four University of Idaho students dead, investigators are urging the public to submit tips to help solve the crime, as police emphasize the case is not growing cold.

Police have not identified a suspect in the deaths of Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, who were found slain with multiple stab wounds in a home near the school’s Moscow, Idaho, campus on Nov. 13.

"This case is not going cold," Robbie Johnson, a public information officer for the Moscow Police Department, said in an interview with NBC News.

"We’re in a really good place in this investigation where we have a lot of leads, a lot of places to go as far as investigation. We have a lot more to do, but we’ve collected a lot of evidence, and we’re continuing to move forward with that."

Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were found dead on Nov. 13 with multiple stab wounds. (TODAY)
Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were found dead on Nov. 13 with multiple stab wounds. (TODAY)

Last week, police said investigators were interested in speaking with the occupant or occupants of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra that was in the "immediate area" of the students' residence during the early morning hours of Nov. 13.

"We know the vehicle was there," Johnson said. "We just don’t know who was in it, who may have owned that car, who may have information about what happened that night."

Due to the number of calls with leads, the tip line had to be directed to an FBI call center, police said on Dec. 8. The investigation team spent several hours going through the tips over the weekend, and the FBI is continuing to prioritize and vet the tips, police said.

Steve Goncalves, the father of victim Kaylee Goncalves, told TODAY on Dec. 1 he is desperate for authorities to provide more information about the investigation. "They’re kind of just telling me that they can’t tell me much, which is frustrating," he said.

"We’re not releasing specific details because we do not want to compromise this investigation," said Capt. Roger Lanier of the Moscow Police Department. "We want more than just an arrest. We want a conviction."

Goncalves said in an interview with Fox News on Dec. 12 he had spoken to the coroner, who said the victims had "big open wounds." He also said his daughter's injuries did not match fellow victim Mogen's, even though they were killed in the same bed.

Goncalves could not immediately be reached by TODAY, and NBC News was unable to independently verify his allegations.

Police have said they believe the stabbings were "targeted" and "isolated," and later told NBC News the house may have been targeted, not the individuals living inside.

"The investigation we have has not really come to conclusion," Aaron Snell, communications director for the Idaho State Police, told NBC News. "Whether it was the individuals involved or one individual, multiple individuals, or their location."

Police have also previously said there was no threat to the public, but walked back that claim on Nov. 16. "We cannot say that there is no threat to the community," Moscow police Chief James Fry said during a press conference. "There is a threat out there, possibly."

The University of Idaho held a candlelight vigil to honor the victims on Nov. 30. Seven other towns and universities across the state also came together at the same time to support the victims and their loved ones.

Candles and flowers are left at a make-shift memorial honoring four slain University of Idaho students outside the Mad Greek restaurant in downtown Moscow, Idaho, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Police discovered the bodies of the four students at home near campus on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, and said the killer or killers used a knife or bladed weapon in the targeted attack. Two of the victims, 21-year-old Madison Mogen and 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, were servers at Mad Greek. (Nicholas K. Geranios / AP)

The vigils came as detectives moved five vehicles outside of the victims' home to a secure location to continue processing evidence on Nov. 29, the Moscow Police Department said in a statement. Police have yet to identify a suspect or uncover a weapon.

Investigators have asked the public to submit security camera footage to the FBI from the night of the attack, and are reviewing nearly 500 digital media submissions, the Moscow Police Department said in a statement on Nov. 27.

In addition to the footage, investigators said last month they've been sifting through more than 1,000 tips and conducted at least 150 interviews.

"This is a criminal investigation so we can’t throw all of our cards on the table and tell everybody everything that we have," Snell told NBC affiliate KTVB on Nov. 29.

Police have publicly ruled out several people with ties to the victims on the night of the stabbings. Two additional roommates who were home at the time of the slayings, but were not injured, are not believed to be involved in the crime, according to police.

Officers investigate the deaths of four University of Idaho students at an apartment complex south of campus on Nov. 14, 2022, in Moscow, Idaho. (Zach Wilkinson / The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)
Officers investigate the deaths of four University of Idaho students at an apartment complex south of campus on Nov. 14, 2022, in Moscow, Idaho. (Zach Wilkinson / The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)

Police have said the stabbings took place in the "early morning hours" on Nov. 13. A 911 call from the cellphone of one of the surviving roommates reporting an unconscious person came around noon, according to police.

Police said the surviving roommates called friends over to the house because they believed one of their roommates had passed out. The additional people in the home when 911 was called have been cleared as suspects, according to police.

On the night of Nov. 12, Chapin and Kernodle were at a party on campus, while Mogen and Goncalves were at a bar, police said. A livestream from a food truck appeared to show Mogen and Goncalves around 1:40 a.m. on Nov. 13, before they got a ride home from a "private party driver."

Police have said a man wearing a white hoodie standing near Mogen and Goncalves, along with the driver, have been ruled out as suspects at this time.

Police also do not believe that a person called seven times from Goncalves’ cellphone after she returned home was involved in the attack.

“This person was asleep unfortunately, (and) was not getting the calls,” Goncalves’ mother, Kristi Goncalves, recently told TODAY. “If Kaylee was in imminent danger — her or Maddie — they would have called 911. They would not have been calling this person.”

Police have said they believe all roommates were home by 2 a.m., and when police arrived, all four victims were found with multiple stab wounds. Two victims were found on the second floor of the home, and two others were found on the third floor, according to police. There was no sign of forced entry or damage, police said.

Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt has said the victims had "pretty extensive” wounds, and were likely sleeping when the attacks began. Some of the victims had defensive wounds, she said.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has directed up to $1 million in emergency funds to assist the ongoing investigation, Moscow police said in a statement.

The stabbings have shaken the small college town of about 25,000. A number of students did not return to campus from Thanksgiving break, citing safety concerns. The university has allowed students to finish the semester remotely if they fear for their safety.

Senior Megan Lolley told TODAY she would be returning to campus, but that her and her friends have taken extra precautions to stay safe.

"It’s not finished and it’s still a threat, in my opinion, so that’s what’s caused me to be most apprehensive," Lolley told TODAY. "I have always been a very independent person. And this has really shaken that for me."

This article was originally published on TODAY.com