The four University of Idaho students who were murdered in their beds last month were remembered at a graduation ceremony over the weekend, where police warned attendees to ‘stay alert’ and to travel in a group with the mass killer still at large.
University of Idaho President C. Scott Green opened the college’s winter commencement ceremony on Saturday with a tribute to Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen.
“It’s been a tough few weeks for our campus,” he told the 550 students and their family members who had gathered for the service.
‘I would like to acknowledge a huge loss for our vandal family,’ he said, reading the names of the four victims and describing how they were ‘ripped from us far too soon by a senseless act of violence’.
“They were shining lights on our campus and cherished members of our community,” he added.
A minute of silence was then observed in honor of the students killed.
Goncalves should have celebrated his own graduation from the service before planning to move to Texas for a new job. Instead, her family is planning her celebration of life after she was stabbed to death at the age of 21.
The University of Idaho’s early winter appeared to go by without any major issues after security concerns were raised about the event while the mass murderer remains at large.
In an announcement on Saturday morning, Moscow police warned students, residents and visitors to the university town to “stay alert”, travel in groups and keep in touch with others during the celebration.
Police Chief James Fry said law enforcement patrols would be stepped up both on campus and around town.
“With the start this weekend, there will be an influx of people from out of town. The Moscow Police Department and Idaho State Police will provide coverage on campus and in the Moscow region,” police said.
“As always, we want to remind the public to stay alert, travel in groups and communicate with family and friends while traveling.”
The warning came after police repeatedly made conflicting statements following the killings about whether or not there was a risk to the general public.
At the start of the investigation, Moscow police insisted there was ‘no imminent threat’ to the community as it was ‘an isolated and targeted attack’ – although they doesn’t even have any suspects on his radar.
Three days after the murder, they later backtracked on that claim, admitting that – with the perpetrator still at large – “there is a threat” and urging the public to remain “vigilant”.
Today, a month after the killings, no arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified.
A search is currently underway for the mysterious driver of a white car spotted near the student house at the time of the murders.
In what seemed to be the strongest track yet. Moscow police said last Wednesday they were seeking to speak to the occupant or occupants of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra which was seen near the King Road house in the early hours of November 13.
“Investigators believe the occupant(s) of this vehicle may have critical information to share regarding this case,” police said in a statement.
Police are urging the public to come forward with any information, revealing it could be the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’.
Border agents along the US-Canada border were told to be on the lookout for the car, and tips poured in from the public.
Moscow police have been so inundated with information about the vehicle that calls are being directed to a nationwide FBI tip line. On Saturday, police said they were still looking to speak to the occupants and the license plate remained unknown.
The four victims were stabbed to death in their beds around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. on November 13 with a fixed-blade knife, police said. There were no signs of sexual assault.
Two of the victims were found on the second floor and two on the third floor of the house.
On the night of November 12, Kernodle and Chapin were together at a sorority party at the Sigma Chi house from 8 to 9 p.m. and returned home around 1:45 a.m. It is not known where they were in the five hour time slot.
Goncalves and Mogen had spent the night at The Corner Club bar in downtown Moscow, before stopping by a food truck and then heading home from an unnamed “private party” to arrive at the property around 1:56 a.m. morning.
Two surviving roommates had also been out that night and returned home around 1 a.m., police said. The two women, who lived in bedrooms on the first floor of the house, reportedly slept during the brutal killings and were not injured.
The gruesome crime scene went unnoticed for several hours as police received a 911 call at 11.58am on Sunday reporting an “unconscious individual” at the home.
The other two housemates had first called friends at home because they believed one of the victims on the second floor was unconscious and would not wake up. When the friends arrived, a 911 call was made from the phone of one of the housemates.
Police arrived at the scene to find the four victims dead from multiple stab wounds.
Several people have been ruled out as suspects: the two surviving roommates, the man who was photographed with Mogen and Goncalves in a downtown food truck before they returned home the night of the murder, the person who gave Mogen and Goncalves drove home from the food truck, Goncalves’ longtime ex-boyfriend and friends who were home when 911 called.
A sixth person listed on the student residence lease and two men involved in a “stalker” incident with Goncalves about a month before the murders are also not believed to be linked to the case, police said.