Officials on Wednesday said they haven’t identified a suspect in the slayings of four University of Idaho students, including a 20-year-old Skagit County man, found dead in a home near the Moscow, Idaho, campus Sunday.

The Moscow Police Department on Monday identified the students as Ethan Chapin of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.

Law & Justice

The homicides occurred early Sunday morning, after Chapin and Kernodle returned from a party on campus and Mogen and Goncalves came home from a downtown bar, police Chief James Fry said Wednesday. Officers on Sunday discovered four bodies that had been stabbed with a knife, but no weapon.

Wednesday’s news conference provided few answers about the identity or possible whereabouts of a suspect or the weapon, or weapons, used to stab the students. The Idaho Statesman reported Wednesday that the police investigation includes a search for a combat-style knife that might have been used in the killings.

A general manager at Moscow Building Supply told The Idaho Statesman that police visited the store more than once to ask whether the retailer sold anyone KA-BAR brand knives, also known as Kabar or K bar military and utility knives.


The new information made public Wednesday raised even more questions: Two other roommates were in the home during the slayings and weren’t injured, though Fry wouldn’t say if they are witnesses. Officers found no signs of forced entry, though they are “not 100% sure” if the door was unlocked. Someone called 911 around noon, but the caller’s identity hasn’t been released and it’s unclear why the call was placed hours after the slayings.

Fry also said law enforcement believes the homicides were a targeted attack, but it’s “an unknown” if there is a threat to the public. News of the killings has prompted some students to leave campus.

“The reality is there is still someone out there who committed four horrible, horrible crimes,” Fry said.

University of Idaho President Scott Green called the deaths “beyond comprehension” and thanked university employees for stepping up to help students who need counseling or accommodating those who want to travel home. The school is excusing absences for anyone who wants to leave campus early for Thanksgiving break.

Before Wednesday’s news conference, Chapin’s family criticized the university and Moscow police, saying the lack of information “only fuels false rumors and innuendo in the press and social media.” Jim Chapin urged officials to share what they know and find the assailant who killed his son and the others.

“The silence further compounds our family’s agony after our son’s murder,” Jim Chapin said in a statement.


The university postponed a vigil scheduled for Wednesday evening to the week of Nov. 28, after students return from break. Classes were canceled Monday, and some professors have called things off for the week.

Ethan Chapin’s mother, Stacy Chapin, said her son, a triplet, was a best friend to his brother and sister. Ethan Chapin was a freshman and a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, according to the university.

“Ethan lit up every room he walked into and was a kind, loyal, loving son, brother, cousin, and friend,” Stacy Chapin said in a statement. “Words cannot express the heartache and devastation our family is experiencing. It breaks my heart to know we will never be able to hug or laugh with Ethan again, but it’s also excruciating to think about the horrific way he was taken from us.”

Ethan Chapin was a 2021 graduate of Mount Vernon High School, where he was a forward on the varsity basketball team. The Mount Vernon School District is providing students and staff with counselors this week.

A memorial service for Chapin will be Monday in Mount Vernon, according to an obituary published Wednesday in the Skagit Valley Herald.

“Please wear blue,” the obituary said, “it was Ethan’s triplet color.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.