Police provided updates to their investigation into the University of Idaho murders, clarifying that initial statements the killings were targeted resulted from a “miscommunication” and that the motive behind the attack is still unknown.
Officials in Moscow, Idaho, initially reported that they believed the Nov. 13 attack, which left four students dead in their off-campus home, was the result of an “isolated, targeted attack” by someone who had “specifically looked at this residence.” However, police backtracked on these statements, explaining they resulted from a “miscommunication” with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate,” city officials said in a statement.
Law enforcement officials have not yet identified a suspect in the case, nor have they retrieved a murder weapon. Police also said they are withholding from releasing a profile of the suspect to avoid spreading fear among the campus population.
“It will potentially put more fear, more suspicion on a wide variety of people versus if we use that to really refine where we’re at in our investigation. I think that will be more pertinent,” Aaron Snell, the communications director for the Idaho State Police, told Fox News. “And so if we just provide information to the public, I just don’t think that that’s going to be a wise choice.”
The clarification comes just days after students were set to return to campus after Thanksgiving break for the final two weeks of the semester. It’s not clear how many students returned to campus with the unknown suspect still at large, with many opting to finish classes remotely. School officials acknowledged these concerns, instructing professors to make all classes available through “in-person teaching and remote learning.”
The victims have been identified as university students Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21. Each was murdered in bed and was stabbed in the chest and upper body with a large knife.
Two other roommates who were staying in the basement were left unharmed, but police have ruled them out as suspects, as well as two other friends who were present at the home at the time of the 911 call. However, some have pointed to their survival as evidence the attacks were targeted.
Moscow Police have urged the public not to rely on rumors circulating in the media, noting they should only listen to updates that come directly from law enforcement officials.
“There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts. We encourage referencing official releases for accurate information and updated progress,” police said in a press release.
Authorities are asking the public to submit any information that could be relevant to the murders by calling 208-883-7180 or emailing [email protected].