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Four University of Idaho Students Were Killed in ‘Targeted’ Knife Attack, Cops Say

Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves,and Madison Mogen (KHQ screenshot)

Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, and Madison Mogen (KHQ screenshot)

The four University of Idaho students found dead inside of an off-campus house Sunday were specifically “targeted” and stabbed to death, authorities said in a Tuesday morning press release. All four deaths have also been ruled as homicides, indicating that each of the students was a victim in the case.

“Although no weapons have been located, based on preliminary information, investigators believe that an edged weapon such as a knife was used,” the Moscow Police Department said in a press release. “Also, 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.”

The victims were identified on Monday afternoon as Ethan Chapin, 20, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Madison Mogen, 21.

Autopsies are currently scheduled to be completed by the end of the week to help authorities obtain more information regarding the exact cause of death for each victim. In the meantime, investigators say they are working on establishing a timeline of the relevant events to “re-create the victims’ activities on the evening of November 12 and early morning of November 13.”

Police said that there are no suspects currently in custody but maintained that there is “no imminent threat” to the community at large.

“All I can say is the deaths are ruled a homicide at this point, and homicide and murder are synonymous,” Moscow police Capt. Anthony Dahlinger reportedly told the Idaho Statesman. “We certainly have a crime here, so we are looking for a suspect.”

City of Moscow Mayor Art Bettge reportedly told the newspaper that authorities believe the slaying occurred between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

Officers responding to a 911 call regarding an unconscious person discovered the four students dead inside of the house on King Road just before noon, Law&Crime previously reported.

Ethan Chapin, a freshman from Washington, was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management, Scott Green, the university’s president said in a press release. Kaylee Goncalves was a senior majoring in general studies and was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. Xana Kernodle was a junior from Arizona majoring in marketing and a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. Madison Mogen was a senior and also a marketing major and Pi Beta Phi member.

“My wife Gabriella and I are simply heartbroken. 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,” President Green said in a statement. “No one feels that loss more than their families and friends.”

Xana and Madison were both servers at the Mad Greek restaurant, located approximately a mile from the house where they were killed.

“It is with a broken heart and deep sadness to share with you that we have lost two of our own here at Mad Greek. Xana and Maddie have been servers here for several years and brought so much joy to our restaurant and all of those they encountered. Maddie was also the face behind our social media pages,” the owner wrote on the establishment’s Facebook page. “You will be greatly missed. Thank you for being a part of our family/team and for helping me so much over the years.”

[Image via KHQ screenshot]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.