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Four University of Idaho students dead in apparent homicides

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Four University of Idaho students dead in apparent homicides

Nov 14, 2022 | 3:47 pm ET
By Kevin Richert
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Four University of Idaho students dead in apparent homicides
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The University of Idaho's main campus is located on the rolling hills of the Palouse in Moscow. (Courtesy of the University of Idaho)

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on November 14, 2022

(UPDATED, 4:30 p.m., with quotes from Moscow mayor Art Bettge and State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich.)

Moscow police have identified the four University of Idaho students, who died in apparent homicides.

But police still have issued few details about Sunday’s deaths, and no suspect or suspects are in custody.

“The Moscow Police does not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation,” according to a news release issued by the city late Monday morning.

The U of I released more details about the victims Monday afternoon:

  • Ethan Chapin, 20, was a freshman from Mount Vernon, Wash., majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
  • Kaylee GonCalves, 21, was a senior from Rathdrum, majoring in general studies in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
  • Xana Kernodle, 20, was a junior from Post Falls, majoring in marketing in the College of Business and Economics, and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
  • Madison Mogen, 21, was a senior from Coeur d’Alene, majoring in marketing in the College of Business and Economics, and a Pi Beta Phi member.

“Words cannot adequately describe the light these students brought to this world or ease the depth of suffering we feel at their passing under these tragic circumstances,” university President C. Scott Green said in a memo to the campus community Monday. “No one feels that loss more than their families and friends.”

On Monday, Green said the U of I’s dean of students is working with students to schedule a candlelight vigil later in the week. But he also suggested some students might leave the campus in the next few days.

“We ask our employees to be empathetic, flexible and to work with our students who desire to return home to spend time with their families,” he said.

The U of I is on fall break next week, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Police have not disclosed the cause of the deaths, which occurred in an apartment on King Road, near the U of I campus.

“At this time, there is only limited information that can be shared without jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation,” Mayor Art Bettge said Monday.

But as investigators seek answers, Bettge urged the community to come together.

“This tragedy serves as a sobering reminder that senseless acts of violence can occur anywhere, at any time, and we are not immune from such events here in our own community,” he said.

Noting the close-knit nature of Moscow and the U of I, State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich expressed shock at the news.

“I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around it,” Liebich said at the start of a brief board meeting Monday afternoon. “It’s just a tragic, tragic set of events.”

Police were first called to the crime scene shortly before noon PST Sunday, after receiving a report of an unconscious person at an apartment on King Road. Officers then discovered four dead persons at the scene.

News of the homicides unfolded the rest of the day.

At about 2 p.m. PST, the university tweeted that Moscow police were investigating a homicide, urging students to stay away from the area and shelter in place.

The university tweeted out a second alert 39 minutes later. “Investigation continues. Suspect unknown. (Moscow Police Department) does not believe there is an active threat. Shelter in place lifted. Remain vigilant.”

On Sunday evening, Green confirmed that the apparent homicides involved four students, but reiterated that the police did not believe there was an active threat. He also announced that the university had canceled classes for Monday.

As details about the victims came to light Monday, news of the deaths reverberated across social media.

“We mourn for the lives lost, and grieve with their loved ones and the entire Vandal community,” Boise State University said in a tweet.

“We join @uofi in grieving the unimaginable loss their campus community is experiencing,” the College of Western Idaho said in a tweet.

“Moscow, Idaho. I am so profoundly sorry to wake up to this news,” said Josh Ritter, a singer-songwriter and Moscow native.

The deaths near the U of I campus were reported the same day three University of Virginia football players died in a mass shooting in Charlottesville, Va.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire University of Idaho campus community and with the University of Virginia and their football program,” U of I head football coach Jason Eck tweeted Monday.