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'File civil action against killer': Internet weighs in on legal options for families of Idaho victims

A Reddit user has listed several points for families on how to file a lawsuit against killer
UPDATED DEC 27, 2022
University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves, were murdered on November 13 (@xanakernodle/Instagram, @kayleegoncalves/Instagram)
University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves, were murdered on November 13 (@xanakernodle/Instagram, @kayleegoncalves/Instagram)

This article is based on sources and MEAWW cannot verify this information independently.

MOSCOW, IDAHO: Investigators in the Idaho murder case that killed four University of Idaho students, Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Ethan Chapin, 20, center, and Xana Kernodle, 20, still have not found a suspect, motive or murder weapon in the killing a month after the incident. Moscow police is being constantly criticized for their inefficiency in identifying a suspect in the case.

Though there is an increased worry that this case will become another cold case, a user has written an article on Reddit suggesting various points for litigation for the victims' families. A user called Sovak John stated in the article, "I have several suggestions about what they should Investigate and the Litigation Strategies that should underlie said Investigation."


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The article has different subheads and enlisted numerous points. "NYS CPLR Article 4 Proceedings: - Pre-Litigation Investigations- I live in NYS, and here we have a Court Rule known as Article 4 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR Art 4). An Article 4 Proceeding concerns Investigations made before Litigation. It is most commonly used by potential Plaintiffs who allege themselves to have been injured by a Hospital but who are not sure which Hospital Employee caused which Injuries." 

Moscow Police are now curious as to where Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were from around 9 pm on November 12 until 1.45 am on November 13. (Instagram/xanakernodle)
Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were stabbed to death on November 13  (Instagram/@xanakernodle)

Further, it added, "The Article 4 Proceeding is designed to allow such potential Plaintiff's to conduct pre-Litigation Investigations prior to the Filing of a Summons and Complaint against the Hospital or its Employees. I have cursorily reviewed the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and, from what I have seen, Idaho does not have any Rule similar to NY CPLR Art 4. In this event, the Plaintiff would merely directly File their Summons and Complaint against the Killer as a (John Doe) Defendant and proceed from there."

Later, the user suggested, "Prior Posts on Location Data- In several prior Posts and Comments on this sub-Reddit, I have expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the Police's conduct of the Investigation, particularly as it relates to the Collection and Analysis of Location Data, which is routinely Collected by BOTH Cell Phone and Car Companies. Most of the Comments posted in response to my earlier Posts either disputed the fact that Private Persons can conduct Investigations of the Location Data, or that the results of any such investigation would NOT be Admissible in Court. BOTH beliefs of those Commenters are WRONG."

Madison Mogen, 21, top left, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, bottom left, Ethan Chapin, 20, center, and Xana Kernodle, 20, right.(Photo credit screenshot xanakernodle/Instagram)
Madison Mogen, 21, (top L), Kaylee Goncalves, 21, (bottom L), Ethan Chapin, 20, (C), and Xana Kernodle, 20, (R) were brutally stabbed to death in their Idaho home (@xanakernodle/Instagram)

Further, he detailed, "Defendants ALL have Rights under the 4th Amendment, but only the Police and Prosecutors have any Obligation to observe the strictures of the 4th Amendment. Information Collected by Private Persons is Admissible in Court (as long as the Police have not directed the Private Persons), and, most crucially, Private Persons have NO OBLIGATION towards Criminal Defendants with respect to the 4th Amendment. The Information that Private Persons Collect is ADMISSIBLE in Court. Private Persons have NO OBLIGATION under the 4th Amendment to Defendants. Also, not a few Commenters WRONGLY stated that modern Cars do NOT Collect Location Data. Most of All Cars distributed in the United States have had this technology since around 2003."

The author also stated, " Apparent Incompetence of the Police with Respect to Location Data- I saw an Interview on 12/07/22 of a retired FBI Agent, conducted by Ashleigh Banfield of News-Nation, and in it, Ms Banfield remarks about how, when a Police Official was asked about the Collection of Location Data, he immediately adopted the Deer-in-the-Headlights look, as though he had not the slightest clue about what he had just been asked about. In Ms Banfield's words, it was as though the Reporter who asked the question was speaking "Greek" to the Police Official. If the Police aren't even aware of the Location Data Collected by the Car and Cell Companies, then there is a profound problem with the Police Investigation of this Spree Killing." 

(Screenshot from CBS News/ YouTube)
The Kings Road home where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death (Screenshot/CBS News)

Further, he added," Call for Public Pressure on Location Data Collecting Companies - Mr G, and all of the 4 Families, I STRONGLY URGE at least one of you to File a Civil Action against the Killer, named as a John Doe Defendant, and seeking the Location Data that is Collected by ALL of the Car and Cell Companies. Since you, as Plaintiffs, will not be able to Identify the Defendant at first, you should either File Idaho's equivalent of an Article 4 Proceeding (if it exists), or else to go directly to the Filing of a regular Civil Case and seek Discovery of these Companies' Location Data." 

It also added, "The Civil Court will almost certainly BLOCK the Civil Case until the conclusion of any Criminal Proceeding. The critical argument that I am asking you to make is to argue to the Civil Judge that the Police are just grotesquely incompetent, at least with respect to Location Data; - and that you thus seek only to aid and assist the Police in their Investigation, albeit with absolutely no involvement of the Police.The Civil Court Judge is likely to be unmoved, at least at first."

James Fry (Fox News screenshot/ YouTube)
James Fry is currently leading the investigation into the Idaho quadruple murders (Screenshot/Fox News)

It enlisted, "In response, I STRONGLY URGE you all to adopt a strategy of Public Pressure against these Companies. That means Protests and Boycotts, unless and until they release the Location Data to you, the Families. Mr G, if you were to go stand outside the Local Hyundai Dealer, or the AT&T or Verizon Store, and hold up a sign asking: - WHY ARE THEY PROTECTING THE KILLER?; - well - that would be you using the power and influence that has properly accrued to you as a result of the absolute Tragedy that has befallen ALL of you, and in the most effective manner possible.You have Power in this, Mr G, and all of the Families. I ask you now to use it. The Cell Companies Collect this Data and sell it to any Stalker with a nickel. They are going to DENY it to you?." 

The article substantiated, "Criteria for Analysis of the Location Data (Once Obtained) - The real issue with the Location Data, once obtained, is analyzing it. Specifically, you will be looking for a Cell Phone that was present at the time of the Murders. The Killer seems to have prepared and planned very, very 'well', so you will likely have to take account of that. But this Killer is so smart that it is likely not to be that simple. He appears to have Cased the House before the Murders, and probably more than once." 

It explained, " My guess is that he brought his phone with him to the Surveillance Events but that he did not bring his Phone to the actual Murders. At least NOT his regular Phone. Further, while it is certainly possible that he parked some distance from the House, the housing density around the House probably precludes that. I believe he surveyed the House from the parking lot at the end of Queens Road, just up the hill from the House." 

Further, he claimed, "Although unlikely, he might have used different vehicles for the Surveillance or parked in different places for each Surveillance Event and//or the Murders.
There are several variables about where he parked, which phone he brought, and the time of day, and there are probably additional such variables, ALL of which will have to be taken account of. Trophy Collection Likely to Include Images I have recently become convinced that this Killer collected Trophies of his Crimes." 

The writer stated, " I think that the ‘ideal’ type of Trophy has to be Images, both Still Photos and Videos. While he could certainly have brought a dedicated Camera to the Crime Scene, I think not. (Too Bulky.) No, it is more likely that he brought a Cell Phone with him to the Crime Scene, albeit not his regular Phone. He purchased a new burner Phone, just for this task of Trophy collection. So, there will be his regular Phone for the Surveillance Events, and then a burner for the actual Murders. And, he probably only turned on the burner for the several minutes he spent taking the Photos and Videos, and then powered it down ASAP. If there is a Cell Phone that appears only one time, on 11/13 at around 3 to 4 AM, and that was only on for a few minutes, that is him." 

He has also explained the Pattern of Life Maps in the article. The writer added, "To separate out the vast majority of Innocents from the Killer, it might be necessary to construct 'Pattern of Life' maps of ALL of the persons parked within walking distance of the House, and going back several months. This is likely to be a gargantuan task.
(I have a very strong suspicion that the Car and Phone Companies have technologies that should vastly simplify this task. They have the technology to separate the wheat from the chaff, and in very short order. They will resist applying this technology to aid you in your Search, Mr. G. You are going to need to crucify them -- metaphorically only, of course -- to get them to help you properly.) Gold Standard is Matching Location Data from BOTH the Car and the Cell Phone. Obviously, the Gold Standard would be if you found both Car and Cell Location Data that pointed to one Killer."

In the next point, he stated, "Killer’s Use of Night Vision Goggles and Kevlar Gloves- I also now believe that he used Night Vision Goggles, and also wore Kevlar (or similar) Gloves. While the K-Bar Knife is something that he has owned for a long time, he would almost certainly NOT have had either Night Vision or Kevlar Gloves.
That would presumably leave a commercial purchase trail that can be tracked-down." 

Further, the writer explained, "Who is Idaho's Toughest Litigator?-  Mr. G, my advice to you about Lawyers is that you should hire the top Litigator in Idaho. This Attorney should have wide experience in both Civil and Criminal Law. You are going to be seeking to Coerce the Cell and Car Companies to release this Location Data directly to you (unless the Civil Court Decides to Grant you access to this Location Data, which I do NOT in any way foresee). You need someone who isn't going to take NO for an answer. I don’t know anything about the Attorney that you have apparently hired, Mr. G. If she either cannot or will not pursue my suggested Course of Action aggressively on your behalf, then I urge that you replace her with someone who will.Thank You All Very, Very Much. Thank you all for reading this Post.I intend to reply to all substantive Responses that I receive to this Post."