University of Idaho homicides make students flee town early before Thanksgiving, candlelight vigil postponed

U of I President Scott Green asked their employees 'to work with our students who desire to return home to spend time with their families'

University of Idaho homicides make students flee town early before Thanksgiving, candlelight vigil postponed
The homicide case involving four University of Idaho students (L) has emptied out the campus (R) as students left early before the Thanksgiving break (@kayleegoncalves/Instagram, uidaho.edu)
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MOSCOW, IDAHO: The University of Idaho homicide case has taken a heavy psychological toll on the student body causing a significant number of them to leave early for their Thanksgiving break. Four students at the University of Idaho were killed in an off-campus housing unit on November 13, Sunday, in an "isolated, targeted attack." Most of the students have already left the city of Moscow, known as one of the nation's five best college towns, before the upcoming holiday break, reported Fox News.

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Authorities believe that even though they didn't find any harmful weapons near the area, they assume the victims were murdered using some edged weapons such as a knife. According to Dean of Students, Blaine Eckles, as most of the students are out of town for holidays the candlelight vigil which was planned to be held on November 16, Wednesday, has rescheduled to November 30. The exact time is yet to be determined.

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"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," reads the November 15 notice from Dean of Students Blaine Eckles. "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." Earlier, the university had canceled classes on Monday, November 14, out of respect for the victims.

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University of Idaho
Police car parked near the off-campus housing that was the scene of the crime (Screenshot/KREM 2 News)

Even though the school and police claim that the community is not currently under threat, tensions are high because no suspects have been apprehended. Officers at the site reported that blood was discovered inside the King Road residence where the incident occurred either late on Saturday or early on Sunday. Residents in the neighborhood reported hearing noises from the house Saturday evening, but they said it sounded more like a party than an argument. 

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On Sunday, November 13, around noon, authorities were called to the scene. In response to the incident, police found the bodies of four students. 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. The next two days, on November 14-15, investigators combed the house and the surrounding area for evidence, even looking through the trash cans. Students frequently host parties at King Road, so the houses were littered with empty alcohol boxes and other items.

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In a note addressed to the school's community, Blaine Eckles stated that the students' deaths "had a significant impact on their families and friends" and that the school "stands with them in their grief." Eckles advised students to let their lecturers know about their plans. The note added that the school offered several resources to their students in the wake of the tragedy, including walk-in counseling sessions and therapy dogs. Eckles said that students could also contact her office directly to request assistance.

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The University of Idaho campus (uidaho.edu)
The University of Idaho campus (uidaho.edu)

The autopsies of the four victims are expected to be completed this week, after which police "hopefully provide more definitive information on the exact cause of the deaths," the Moscow Police Department said on Tuesday, November 15. "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," they added.

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"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 stated 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." His note also stated, "Moscow police do not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation, however, we ask our employees to be empathetic, flexible and to work with our students who desire to return home to spend time with their families. We do not know the investigation timeline, but we will continue to communicate to campus as we learn more." Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Moscow police at 208-883-7054. Local, state, and federal authorities are working together on the case.

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