The Moscow Police Department responded Wednesday to a statement made by the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office which stated that “the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence, and that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted.”
“We have spoken with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office and identified this was a miscommunication,” the department said. “Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate.”
This is a departure from the department’s previous statements indicating that the homicide was a “targeted” attack. It isn’t the first time police have reversed course from prior statements.
When the homicide was first reported, police said in press releases that, in addition to being a targeted attack, there was no ongoing threat to the community. On November 16, however, Moscow Police Chief James Fry acknowledged that there may be a threat to the community since the police still do not have a person of interest connected to the slayings.
“We cannot say that there is no threat to the community,” Fry said at a press conference. “There is a threat out there, possibly.”
That same day, Fry insisted the attack was targeted, yet now the police are saying they can’t be sure.
It’s been more than two weeks since Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21, were murdered in their off-campus residence – and police still have not named any suspects. Police responded to a call around noon on November 13, reporting an unconscious person at an off-campus residence. When they arrived, they found the four murdered students.
On Sunday, Aaron Snell, spokesperson for the Idaho State Police, told Fox News’ Lawrence Jones that while investigators “don’t currently have a suspect,” keeping certain information from the public “is going to be critical into trying to develop that.”
“Obviously, you’ve got somebody that’s on the loose right now. There’s a lot of fear with the public based on what you guys have been able to collect. And you have profilers on the team, [behavioral analysis] unit is here, why not go ahead and release that profile?” Jones asked Snell, according to Fox News.
“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,” Snell replied. “And so if we just provide information to the public, I just don’t think that that’s going to be a wise choice.”
Authorities have also said they do not believe that the two surviving roommates – who apparently did not hear the killings take place – are involved in the crimes. They also do not believe a man observed in surveillance video outside a food truck visited by Goncalves and Mogen the night of the murders was involved, nor was a driver who drove the women home.
One week after the slayings, law enforcement provided more information about the killings and asked the public for “context to the events and people involved in these murders.”
“Anyone who observed notable behavior, has video surveillance, or can provide relevant information is asked to call the Tip Line,” police said in a press release.
Police are looking for any outside surveillance video taken between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. on November 13 – the morning of the murders – from local businesses and residences in the area. They’ve requested all video, even if there doesn’t appear to be any motion in them. Police are also asking for any tips or surveillance video about “any observed suspicious behavior” on the night of the murders, particularly in the areas where the students had been.