A “great number” of students at the University of Idaho have left town early ahead of Thanksgiving break after four students were killed over the weekend in what police are now calling an “isolated, targeted attack.”
Police in Moscow, Idaho, announced Tuesday that although no weapons have been recovered from the scene of the attack, investigators believe the victims were killed with an edged weapon, such as a knife, in their house near campus.
“As a great number of students have already left the Moscow campus, a candlelight vigil that was previously being considered for tomorrow, Nov. 16, is being rescheduled,” a Tuesday notice from Dean of Students Blaine Eckles reads. “It will be held after Thanksgiving break, during the week of Nov. 28, so that all students who wish to attend are able to do so. Keep monitoring your emails for date, time and location of the vigil.”
Though the school and police have said there is no threat to the community at this time, no suspects have been taken into custody, and the community is on edge.
Officers at the scene said investigators found blood inside the home on King Road where the incident took place either late Saturday or early Sunday.
Neighbors reported hearing noise from the house Saturday evening but said it sounded like a party rather than an altercation.
Moscow officers responded to reports of an unconscious person Sunday around noon and located the four deceased students upon arrival.
The victims are Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee GonCalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.
Investigators on Monday and Tuesday searched for evidence in and outside the home — even through trash bins on Tuesday.
Parties are frequently hosted at the many student houses on King Road, which was littered with empty alcohol boxes and other items on Monday and Tuesday.
University of Idaho spokesperson Jodi Walker said the school is being “flexible” with the various ways students are coping with the tragedy.
Dean of Students Blaine Eckles said in her note to the school community that the students’ deaths have “had a profound impact on their families and friends,” and the school stands “with them in their grief.” She encouraged students to communicate their plans with professors.
The school provided various resources to students after the tragedy, including drop-in counseling sessions and therapy dogs, according to Eckles’ note.
She added that students could also seek support directly through her office.
The four victims’ autopsies are scheduled to be completed later this week, at which point police will” hopefully provide more definitive information on the exact cause of the deaths,” the Moscow Police Department said Tuesday.
Police added that “based on information from the preliminary investigation, investigators believe this was an isolated, targeted attack and there is no imminent threat to the community at large.”
“Words cannot adequately describe the light these students brought to this world or ease the depth of suffering we feel at their passing under these tragic circumstances,” University of Idaho President Scott Green said in a Monday afternoon statement. “No one feels that loss more than their families and friends. The university is working directly with those affected and is committed to supporting all students, families and employees as this event undeniably touches all of us.”
Investigators searched in and outside the home on King Road for evidence on Sunday and Monday.
Local authorities have partnered with state and federal law enforcement offices on the case and are asking anyone with information to contact the Moscow police at 208-883-7054.