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Idaho State Police adds patrols to university campus as school holds vigil for 4 students killed in unsolved stabbings

<i>CNN</i><br/>Idaho State Police adds patrols to campus as the University of Idaho prepares to host a vigil Wednesday night for the four students fatally stabbed earlier this month.
CNN
Idaho State Police adds patrols to campus as the University of Idaho prepares to host a vigil Wednesday night for the four students fatally stabbed earlier this month.

By Eric Levenson and Veronica Miracle, CNN

Idaho State Police has added four campus patrols and 14 patrols for the general community as the University of Idaho hosted a vigil Wednesday night for the four students fatally stabbed earlier this month.

Several hundred people attended the vigil on the campus of 9,300 students to commemorate the victims: Ethan Chapin, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21.

Several family members spoke about their loved ones.

“We lost four beautiful souls,” said Goncalves’ father, Steve. Later, he told those watching to find someone they love and tell them. “The only cure to pain is love,” he said.

Chapin’s mother, Stacy Chapin, talked about how their family was very close. They shared meals when they could, they played games together and loved spending days on the boat listening to country music, Ethan’s “most favorite thing in the whole world.”

“We are eternally grateful that we spent so much time with him,” she said, and then, as her voice cracked, she implored the audience to do the same with their families. “Because time is precious and it’s something you can’t get back.”

The parents — including Mogen’s father, who spoke lovingly about his “great kid” who was “just nice to everybody” — also thanked law enforcement and university officials for their work since the November 13 slayings.

Investigators have yet to identify a suspect or find the murder weapon, but a spokesperson for the Idaho State Police said they have begun to receive forensic testing results, Fox News reported.

“I do know that each type of testing… some take longer than others. And I also do know that there have been results that have been returned and those go directly to the investigators, so that way they can help, again, paint that picture as we keep talking about,” spokesperson Aaron Snell said, while declining to say who the DNA belonged to.

CNN has reached out to Snell for comment.

State police are assisting police in Moscow, a city of about 26,000 people, with the investigation. The uncertainty and lack of information around the unsolved killings has left the campus emptier than usual after Thanksgiving break.

While there is no official number on how many students returned, Provost and Executive Vice President Torrey Lawrence told CNN professors are reporting that about two-thirds to three-quarters of students are attending in-person.

“This is a heavy situation, and we are moving forward by trying to be supportive of all of our people, our faculty, our staff, our students, and trying to address their needs,” Lawrence said.

One student told CNN that, with a killer not identified, people are “sketched out.”

“It definitely feels a little bit different,” said student Hayden Rich. “It seems kind of a sad setting. It is kind of quiet.”

Snell told CNN on Tuesday they’ve seen an uptick in 911 calls while the cases remain unsolved. Most of those calls are concerning “suspicious person” activity, or “welfare check.”

“We are recognizing that there is heightened fear in the community and so the officers are going to those calls and they’re handling them as they come up,” Snell said.

University of Idahos President Scott Green acknowledged last week that some students did not want to return until a suspect is in custody.

“As such, 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,” he wrote in a statement.

How we got here

Dozens of local, state and federal investigators are still working to determine who carried out the brutal attack. Investigators have yet to identify a suspect or find a weapon — believed to be a fixed-blade knife — and have sifted through more than 1,000 tips and conducted at least 150 interviews.

The four students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home in Moscow. The killings have unsettled the campus community and the town, which had not seen a murder since 2015.

Police said they believe the killings were “targeted” and “isolated” but have not released evidence to back up that analysis. They also initially said there was no threat to the public — but later backtracked on that assurance.

“We cannot say there’s no threat to the community,” Police Chief James Fry said days after the killings.

Authorities said they have not ruled out the possibility that more than one person may be involved in the stabbings.

So far, using the evidence collected at the scene and the trove of tips and interviews, investigators have been able to piece together a rough timeline and a map of the group’s final hours.

On the night of the killings, Goncalves and Mogen were at a sports bar, and Chapin and Kernodle were seen at a fraternity party.

Investigators believe all four victims had returned to the home by 2 a.m. the night of the stabbings. Two surviving roommates had also gone out in Moscow that night, police said, and returned to the house by 1 a.m.

Police earlier said Goncalves and Mogen returned to the home by 1:45 a.m., but they updated the timeline Friday, saying digital evidence showed the pair returned at 1:56 a.m. after visiting a food truck and being driven home by a “private party.”

The next morning, two surviving roommates “summoned friends to the residence because they believed one of the second-floor victims had passed out and was not waking up,” police said in a release. Somebody called 911 from the house at 11:58 a.m. using one of the surviving roommates’ phones.

When police arrived, they found two victims on the second floor and two victims on the third floor. There was no sign of forced entry or damage, police said.

Investigators do not believe the two surviving roommates were involved in the deaths.

A coroner determined the four victims were each stabbed multiple times and were likely asleep when the attacks began. Some of the students had defensive wounds, according to the Latah County coroner.

Student Ava Forsyth said her roommate is staying home because she does not feel safe. Forsyth said she feels “moderately” safe, but “not so much” at night, when she takes advantage of a free campus walking security service.

Rich, the student who said people are “sketched out,” said he decided to come back for the many tests he has this week. Student Lexi Way told CNN that she feels safe with upped campus security and “tends to learn better in class.”

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Tina Burnside, Elizabeth Wolfe, Michelle Watson, Theresa Waldrop, Paradise Afshar and Jason Kravarik contributed to this report.

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