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Rumors are swirling about the University of Idaho murders. Here's what investigators have said so far.

Ex-FBI agent on the Idaho student murders case
Former FBI agent discusses Idaho college student murders case 05:16

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The brutal murders of four University of Idaho students in their home have been shrouded in mystery. More than one month after the Nov. 13 killings, police have yet to publicly identify a suspect, and the details about what happened are still murky at best — and continue to develop by the day.

The four college students — roommates Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves and Xana Kernodle and Kernodle's boyfriend Ethan Chapin — were discovered dead on the second and third floors of the home in Moscow, Idaho. Two other roommates were at the house at the time of the murders and apparently slept through the attack, police said. Police have also said a sixth person is on the lease, but they had moved out before the school year even began. 

With so few major facts of the case established, rumors have run rampant — from unfounded claims of a skinned dog on the property to the murders possibly being connected to other stabbings.

"One month after the murders took place investigators continue to piece together what happened in the hours leading up to the crime in order to determine who is responsible. ... Over the past four weeks, rumors and speculation has led members of the public to provide tips based on rumors rather than official information provided about the case," police said on Dec. 13.

They also said rumors have affected the families, friends and peers of the victims – in some cases leading to harassment and "threatening behavior toward potentially involved parties."

These rumors are "by far the most frustrating part of the investigation," police Capt. Roger Lanier said in a video posted to mark the month since the murders.

"A small piece of information that has speculation added to it just takes its own life on the internet and starts rumors," said Lanier. "And then we find ourselves not only tracking those rumors down and trying to quell them, but also we see our tips that come in are geared more toward the rumor, not the facts that have been put out. ... In many ways, it just revictimizes folks who have already suffered this terrible trauma."

Here's what police have said so far about many of the claims circulating on the internet. 

Were the victims targeted in the attack? 

The Latah County Prosecutor's Office previously said that at least one of the college students killed in the attack was undoubtedly targeted. But the Moscow police followed up to clarify that this was a "miscommunication." 

"Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate," police said, later adding that they "remain consistent in our belief that this was a targeted attack, but investigators have not concluded if the target was the residence or if it was the occupants."

Four University of Idaho students were found dead Nov. 13 at this three-story home in Moscow, Idaho.  Angela Palermo/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Is the case related to other stabbings in neighboring states?

Some people have raised suspicions that the Idaho student murders could be related to stabbing deaths in two other states — Washington and Oregon. Specifically, people have pointed to a 1999 double stabbing in Pullman, Washington, when two women in their 20s were attacked and wounded in their apartment shortly before 3 a.m.

People have also pointed to a 2021 double stabbing in Salem, Oregon, during which Travis and Jamilyn Juetten were stabbed multiple times when someone broke into their home at around 3 a.m. Travis was killed and Jamilyn survived, according to the Statesman Journal. The news outlet said that case has yet to be solved and remains under investigation. 

But despite their late-night and regional similarities, Moscow police said there does not seem to be a link.

"While these cases share similarities with the King Street homicides, there does not appear to be any evidence to support the cases are related," police said last week. 

Was a skinned dog found near the students' house connected to the case? 

Within days of the grisly discovery at the students' home, nearby residents Pam and Jim Colbert told the Daily Mail that their dog was fatally skinned a month before the incident. According to that report, their 12-year-old dog Buddy looked like "a deer that someone had hunted" and that they had "filleted him like they were about to eat him." 

Following that report, however, police said it is "unrelated" to the Idaho student murders.

"Detectives are also aware of a Moscow Police incident of the report of deceased animals left on a resident's property," they said. "This was determined to be wildlife activity and unrelated to the incident."

A dog at the Idaho students' home when police arrived at the scene was "unharmed" and was taken to animal services, they added. 

Did victim Kaylee Goncalves have a stalker?

In the investigation thus far, Moscow police said they have received "hundreds of pieces of information" while probing whether victim Kaylee Goncalves, 21, was being stalked before her murder. Authorities said they were first made aware of the claim while conducting interviews. 

"We have followed up looking at specific timeframes and specific areas of town," Moscow Police Captain Roger Lanier said last week. "So far, we have not been able to corroborate it, but we're not done looking into that piece of information."

On a portion of the police website labeled "Rumor Control," police said investigators have looked at this allegation extensively but "have not verified or identified a stalker." However, they said, anyone who might have information about such a situation should contact them. 

In an update shared on Dec. 5, Moscow Police said investigators may have pinpointed the origin of reports about Goncalves possibly having a stalker. However, they did not find evidence that suggests there was a pattern of stalking, police said, nor do they believe the two men involved in their latest discovery had any part in the murders.

"Using tips and leads, investigators have identified an incident involving Kaylee at a local business, which may have been the stalker reference she made to friends and family," said Moscow Police. "In mid-October, two males were seen inside a local business; they parted ways, and one male appeared to follow Kaylee inside the business and as she exited to walk toward her car. The male turned away, and it did not appear he made any contact with her."

Police noted that detectives had already contacted both men and "learned the two were attempting to meet women at the business" — a fact they said was corroborated through additional investigative work — and believe the incident with Goncalves was "isolated" and not representative of "an ongoing pattern of stalking."

"No evidence suggests the two males were involved in the murders," police said.

What about the surviving roommates?

Many people, including true crime fanatics on TikTok, have suggested that the two surviving roommates who were at the house when police were called the morning after the murders may have been involved. However, police have said that they do not believe that to be the case. 

Much of the online speculation seems to stem from the 911 calls that were placed on Nov. 13 just before noon. According to police, the surviving roommates had asked friends to come to the residence because they thought one of their roommates on the second floor was "passed out and not waking up." 

One of the surviving roommate's cell phones was used to call 911 from inside the home seeking help for an unconscious person. Before police arrived, "multiple people" spoke to a 911 dispatcher, police said. When police arrived, they found the victims on the second and third floors. 

Police have said they do not believe anyone inside the residence when the 911 call was made was involved in the attack. 

Police have also noted that a sixth person was listed on the lease, but said on Dec. 12 that this person had moved out of the home before the school year started "and was not present at the time of the incident."

Both surviving roommates, who apparently slept as the murders happened upstairs, were publicly identified for the first time during a memorial service on Dec. 2. The students, Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke, broke their previous silence with a written letter paying respects to Goncalves, Mogen, Kernodle and Chapin, which a local pastor read aloud.

Were the cars seen near the house involved? 

Investigators have discovered that a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra was "in the immediate area" of the victims' house during the early morning of Nov. 13. Officials are still looking for the people who might have been in the car, whom they say "may have critical information to share regarding this case." They did not know the car's license plate number.

Any occupants of that vehicle, however, have not been named a suspect in the case. 

There have also been online reports of a red Mustang on South Deakin Street – about half a mile from the house – that was being processed as part of the case, police said, but "this information is not accurate." 

"The vehicle is not connected to this incident," police said. 

Was a University of Idaho professor involved in the murders?

TikToker Ashley Guillard, who has posted about the Idaho murders for weeks on the app and is known for her unofficial yet popular commentary on murder cases, has accused a professor from the University of Idaho of being involved with the students' deaths. The professor, Rebecca Scofield, has since filed a defamation lawsuit against Guillard asserting that Guillard's accusations are false. Moscow police also said they do not believe Scofield was involved and continue to say that they have not identified a suspect.

"At this time in the investigation, detectives do not believe the female associate professor and chair of the history department at the University of Idaho suing a TikTok user for defamation is involved in this crime," Moscow police said in a Dec. 27 statement. "The Moscow Police Department will not provide a statement about the ongoing civil process."

In a series of videos, Guillard alleged that the assistant professor of history "participated in the murders because she was romantically involved with one of the victims," according to Scofield's lawsuit.  

The lawsuit states the professor "never met any of the victims, let alone entered a romantic relationship with them."

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