The Moscow, Idaho College Murders

By Ana Perez, 10th Grade

Four students from the University of Idaho were stabbed to death in the second and third floors of an off-campus residence in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho. These students are Ethan Chapin (20), Kaylee Goncalves (21), Xana Kernodle (20), and Madison Mogen (21). Law enforcement officials have been scrambling to solve the case. The local law enforcement agency claims that they have investigated around 600 tips and have investigated dozens of people who might possess relevant information. They reassured the residents of the town, telling them that the case had been an isolated incident and that it posed no threat to the public. However, police had to go back on these reassurances since no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made. The circumstances surrounding the case only make it more mysterious, however. 

The four victims had been spending what appeared to be a normal Sunday night in a house in Moscow, Idaho before being stabbed to death by the killer. Mogen, Goncalves, and Kernodle lived in the residence and Chapin was visiting his girlfriend, Kernodle. Two other residents of the rental house who survived the attacks claimed that they had slept through the stabbing spree. Phone logs from two of the victims reveal that several unanswered calls had been made to a friend, but there were no calls to 911 to report the attack until noon.  

Information from the local police allows us to piece together what happened before the murders. From 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Chapin and Kernodle were attending a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity and returned at about 1:45 AM. At about 11:00 PM, Mogen and Goncalves visited the Corner Club Bar together and left at around 1:30 AM. At 1:40 AM, and the pair stopped at a food truck. A livestream caught them ordering food and mingling with others on the sidewalk before a ‘private party’ gave them a ride home. Footage from a neighbor’s security camera shows them arriving home at 1:56 AM. From 2:26 AM – 2:52 AM, Goncalves called a friend several times, but the friend did not answer. It seems she also called the same friend several times from Mogen’s phone, although the friend did not answer, according to Goncalves’s sister, Alice. Alice identified the friend as Jack DuCouer, Goncalves’s ex-boyfriend, although the two still remained friends. DuCouer missed the calls simply because he was asleep at the time. DuCouer refused to discuss the calls with the police, although Goncalves’s family is assured that DuCouer is not involved in the murders. Alice claims that her sister simply had a habit of calling people late at night, even if they didn’t respond, to ask the most mundane questions such as what to eat for a late night snack. 

The killings took place early in the morning, but the time has not been specified. The Latah County coroner adds that all the victims were asleep at the time of the attacks; they were stabbed multiple times with a large knife, although it seems one of the victims attempted to fight back. Moscow police have stated that they have found some defensive wounds on Kernodle who had fought back against her attacker, according to her father. While toxicology reports have not been completed, none of the victims showed any sign of sexual assault. When the two survivors had woken up, they had called a few friends since they believed one of the women who lived upstairs from them had passed out. After said friends arrived, the police were called right before noon. The two survivors had both been out of town, separately, and returned to their home at 1:00 AM. 

No one has been arrested and the police have yet to identify a suspect, but several individuals were ruled out preliminarily. These are: the man that was in the food truck footage, the ‘private party’ who gave Goncalves and Mogen a ride home, the two survivors, the friends who were called by the surviving housemates, DuCouer the ex-boyfriend of Goncalves, and the victims themselves. The possibility of there being multiple killers is still on the table, and local businesses were contacted by the police to see if anyone had bought a large knife recently. There is still no confirmation on the location of the perpetrator(s), which means it is possible that they have fled town. There were reports of animal killings prior to this specific case, although detectives have concluded that these two incidents are unrelated. The method of entry for the perpetrator. There is no evidence of forced entry, and the front door entrance had a keypad lock that required a code for entry. However, since the residence was known as a party house, it’s possible that the code wasn’t a secret. The sliding door in the house could’ve been used as an entry. The specific murder weapon has still not been identified, although the police conclude that it is a type of large knife. 

Law enforcement officials have added that the surviving housemates could be the key to the murder since they are potential witnesses or potential victims themselves. Authorities hope that they are able to help them piece together the case. 

Residents of the town and several Internet sleuths have proposed many theories, although none have been confirmed. 


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