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Idaho College Students Return to Campus Despite Unsolved Quadruple Murder

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The circumstances surrounding the gruesome murder of four University of Idaho students who were found dead on Nov. 14 in Moscow, Idaho remain a mystery. No suspects have been identified or are in custody at this time. In the early hours of Nov. 13, Kaylee Goncalves (21), her roommate and best friend Madison Mogen (21), another roommate Xana Kernodle (20) and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin (20), were all stabbed in the house the girls shared off campus. Police believe that a fixed-bladed knife was used in the murder, but the weapon is still missing.

According to authorities, the coroner determined that the victims were probably asleep. Some had defensive wounds and everyone had been stabbed numerous times. On Nov. 13, at 1:00 a.m., two other surviving roommates who shared the residence had gone out independently in Moscow. They appear to have slept through the stabbings. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, authorities claimed to have gathered “hundreds of pieces of evidence,” which they stated included more than 113 tangible pieces of evidence. Nevertheless, the killer remains at large and students are on edge.

Fall break came to an end for University of Idaho students on Nov. 27. As police continue to look for a suspect, students who have just returned from break are concerned for their safety. For some students, that may mean returning to campus, while others may decide to stay home. After Thanksgiving break, students had the choice of finishing the fall semester on campus or online, courtesy of the university. Scott Green, the president of the University of Idaho, reassured students of their anxieties. “The police continue to inform us they believe this was a targeted attack,” Green said. “But we recognize this is not good enough for some of our students who want to complete their semester remotely until the person who committed the crime is in custody.”

The campus is on high alert and the atmosphere on campus is tense. “It definitely feels a little bit different,” student Hayden Rich told CNN. “It’s kind of a different vibe. It seems kind of a sad setting. It is kind of quiet.”

It’s unknown how many students will return to Moscow, Idaho, for the final two weeks of classes before winter break with a killer still at large. Police claim that the deaths were “targeted” and “isolated,” but they haven’t provided any evidence to support that claim. They initially assured the public there was no threat, but they later rescinded that affirmation.

Some students claim they returned to campus on Sunday because they didn’t want to finish their semester online. “It was more of a decision if I wanted to keep home at home and school at school,” student Karl Surmanis said. 

Ava Forsyth, a student, claimed that her roommate is staying at home because she does not feel safe. Forsyth claimed that when she utilizes a free campus walking security service, she feels “moderately” protected during the day but “not so much” at night.

Others claim that they feel safer returning now that the university has increased security. Owen O’Dea, a student, stated, “I’m coming back. I feel a lot safer, and I see ISP out, Moscow PD out, Hells Canyon security.”

Moscow police struggle to provide the answers University of Idaho students need. Days after the killings, Police Chief James Fry remarked, “We cannot say there is no threat to the community.” Students returning to campus may notice an increase in local law enforcement and security presence. The Counseling and Testing Center will still offer phone counseling services.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30 students and faculty members gathered for a vigil in memory of the four victims, one marked by tears, laughter and grief.

“We’re going to get our justice. We’re going to figure this stuff out,” Steven Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, said at the ceremony at the University of Moscow, Idaho. “This community deserves that.”

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Jillian is currently attending Florida State University and majoring in editing, writing, and media. Her interests include reading, movies/tv shows, music, cooking, writing, and more! She loves Taylor Swift and Ben Platt, and of course Her Campus. Contact: Instagram: jilliankaplann Snapchat: jilliankaplan7