University of Idaho murders: Prosecutor says student stabbings may have multiple suspects as police seek knife

Investigators are now exploring the possibility that more than one killer is responsible for the murders of four University of Idaho students, as police are on the hunt for a military-style knife believed to have been used in the brutal stabbings.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were all found dead in an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, on Sunday.

All four victims were killed with an “edged weapon such as a knife” – with the murder weapon nowhere to be found and the killer or killers still at large with no no arrests made and no suspects named four days on from the grisly crime.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson told NBC’sTODAY show on Thursday that it “certainly is possible” that there may be more than killer out there.

“At this point, the investigators are looking at all possibilities. They don’t have a specific suspect,” he said.

“We’re really hoping for any information from the public to help recreate everyone’s activities.”

Over the last few days, police officers have come knocking at a local home improvement store to inquire about potential sales of a Ka-Bar knife – as they continue to try to locate the murder weapon.

Scott Jutte, the general manager of Moscow Building Supply, revealed to the Idaho Statesman that officers have turned up multiple times but that he has been unable to help as the store does not stock those knives.

Ka-Bar knives typically have a six inch-long blade with a smooth edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other. They became popular with the US military after first being adopted by the US Marines during the Second World War. Today, they are popular tactical-style knives for outdoor enthusiasts. While Ka-Bar is actually the name for the brand Ka-Bar Knives Inc, the name is now used to describe any knife of a similar blade pattern.

Mr Jutte described the blades as being “similar to the knife Rambo has” – referring to the Sylvester Stallone character.

“They were specifically asking whether or not we carry Ka-Bar-style knives, which we do not,” he said of the officers.

“If we did, we could’ve reviewed surveillance footage. But it wasn’t something I could help them with.”

He added that the Ka-Bar is “more of a combat knife” whereas the store stocks mainly hunting knives.

Moscow Police would not confirm or deny Mr Jutte’s version of events when approached by the Statesman and officials have not confirmed the make or model believed to have been used in the attacks.

As questions continue to mount about the quadruple murders, it has emerged that the university campus was the site of another knife threat just two months ago.

A group of University of Idaho students was allegedly threatened with a knife by a man dressed in all black back on 12 September.

A Ka-Bar USMC knife. Investigators appear to be looking for a knife of this kind (Rich Bowen/CC BY 2.0)
A Ka-Bar USMC knife. Investigators appear to be looking for a knife of this kind (Rich Bowen/CC BY 2.0)

No one was harmed in the incident but officials felt the need to alert students and staff to the threat – sending out a a “Vandal Alert” described as a “Threat with Knife”.

On Sunday – almost exactly two months later – four students were found dead from stab wounds inside a home on King Road.

The three female students lived together at the home with two other students. Chapin was dating Kernodle and was staying the night with her.

Police had responded to the property after receiving a mysterious 911 call at midday reporting an “unconscious individual”.

When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered the four friends – all sorority or fraternity members at the college – dead inside the home. There was no sign of forced entry, the front door was open and nothing appears to have been taken, police said.

Officers patrol Moscow where four students were murdered on Sunday (©Daily News)
Officers patrol Moscow where four students were murdered on Sunday (©Daily News)

The two other roommates were present inside the home at the time, but were unharmed.

Autopsy results are still pending but officials believe the victims were killed at around 3am or 4am on Sunday.

Officials are refusing to say who called 911, why the caller reported an “unconscious individual” when officials have described a crime scene covered in “a lot of blood” and why it took around eight hours for the victims to be discovered when two other students were home at the time.

During a press conference on Wednesday evening, police released new details about the events leading up to the murders, revealing that Chapin and Kernodle had been at a campus party on Saturday night while Mogen and Goncalves spent the night at a bar in town.

They are all believed to have returned to the property sometime after 1.45am.

Twitch footage, seen by The Independent, captured Mogen and Goncalves stopping by a local food truck for a late-night bit to eat – not long before the murders unfolded.

The footage shows the two best friends arriving at the food truck at around 1.41am.

An unidentified man appears to be walking with them, before he steps back as they approach the truck.

Mogen and Goncalves go up to the truck and order food, while the man stands a few feet behind them – before pulling his hood over his head.

Mogen appears to spot someone she recognises and walks over to a man, hugging him briefly before returning to Goncalves’ side.

Madison Mogen and best friend Kaylee Goncalves were killed on Sunday (Kaylee Goncalves / Instagram)
Madison Mogen and best friend Kaylee Goncalves were killed on Sunday (Kaylee Goncalves / Instagram)

After ordering, the two best friends move over to the collection side of the truck.

The mystery man who arrived with them follows and stands close by.

Over the next 10 minutes, the group of young people and students are seen laughing and chatting away as they wait for their orders.

The man is seen chatting and laughing to another man in the line, while Mogen and Goncalves appear to laugh and joke with each other and take photos.

When their food is ready, Mogen and Goncalves leave together, walking away from the truck and turning left.

The man, who was chatting to another student at the time appears to notice them walk off and gestures at them, before he turns and walks away from the truck, turning right – the opposite direction.

Police confirmed that they are looking to speak to the other people in the footage – as four days on the killer or killers remains at large and investigators are yet to identify any suspects. The man in the footage has not been identified as a suspect or person of interest.

On Wednesday, officials said they have not identified any suspects in the murders and no arrests have been made – as they appeared to admit that their insistence that the public is not in danger may have been premature.

When asked how he could be so sure there was no ongoing threat, Chief Fry said: “That’s kind of unknown... we still believe it’s a targeted attack, but the reality is, there’s still a person out there who committed horrible, horrible crimes.

“So there is a threat out there still, possibly. We don’t know it’s going to be to anybody else. But we all have to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that we’re watching out for each other.”

Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were dating at the time of their murders (Jazzmin Kernodle)
Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were dating at the time of their murders (Jazzmin Kernodle)

For the past three days, officials said that there was “no ongoing threat” and that the victims were targeted in a “one-off” incident.

Family members of the victims have balked at the assertion – given the killer or killers remain at large – with Goncalves’ sister warning on social media that “no one is safe” and urging students to leave town.

On Saturday – just hours before their murders – 21-year-old Goncalves had shared photos of the four victims and some of their other friends on her Instagram account.

In one carefree image, the group had their arms around each other, lifted each other on their shoulders and smiled into the camera.

“One lucky girl to be surrounded by these ppl everyday,” Goncalves captioned the post.

Hours later, four of the friends were dead.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about this incident to contact the Moscow Police at 208-883-7054