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Police identify 4 University of Idaho students found dead inside a home near campus; homicide investigation underway

Murders leave Idaho college town on edge
Four students are killed in Idaho college town with no suspect in custody 02:34

Police have identified the four University of Idaho students who were found dead in a home near the Moscow, Idaho, campus on Sunday.

The Moscow Police Department has called the deaths "homicides," and on Monday identified the victims as Ethan Chapin, a 20-year-old from Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, a 21-year-old from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, from Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, from Rathdrum, Idaho.

"Please respect the privacy of the victims' family, friends, and loved ones as the Moscow Police Department investigates this tragic event," police said in a statement.

Officers with the Moscow Police Department discovered the deaths when they responded to a report of an unconscious person just before noon, according to a press release from the city.

Authorities did not release additional details, including the cause of death.

"Details are limited in this investigation. Currently, there is no one in custody," the police department wrote in a press release. "The Moscow Police does not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation."

The police said anyone with information should contact the department and asked that people respect the privacy of the victims' family and friends.

Brian Nickerson, the fire chief of the Moscow Volunteer Fire and EMS Department, said police were the first to arrive at the home. The first responders from the fire and EMS department didn't go inside or transport anyone from the scene, Nickerson said.

"It is with deep sadness that I share with you that the university was notified today of the death of four University of Idaho students living off-campus believed to be victims of homicide," University of Idaho President Scott Green said in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday night. "Out of respect for these fellow Vandals, classes statewide and online are canceled Monday, Nov. 14."

The university said counselors would be available for students at the campus counseling center, while employees could access assistance through an employee assistance program. Green urged people to reach out if they were concerned about classmates or coworkers.

"An event of this magnitude can understandably have significant impacts on those left behind," Green wrote. "As Vandals, we must come together and lift each other up."

Green added that the families of the students have been notified. 

Green also said the university will "continue to actively aid law enforcement's efforts." Shortly after the bodies were found, the university advised students to shelter in place for about an hour until investigators determined there was no active threat to others in the region.

The Moscow Police Department said the investigation was ongoing and asked people with information to call the department at 208-882-2677. 

The city of Moscow is a close-knit college town nestled in the rolling hills of north-central Idaho, about 80 miles southeast of Spokane, Washington. Two of the students killed worked at Mad Greek, a family-owned restaurant just over a mile from the home where the students were found, the establishment said on Facebook. 

The owners wrote a heartfelt tribute to Mogen and Kernodle.

"Xana and Maddie have been servers here for several years and brought so much joy to our restaurant and all of those they encountered," wrote the restaurant, noting that Mogen had also managed much of their social media. "... You will be greatly missed. Thank you for being a part of our family/team and for helping me so much over the years. Until we meet again." 

It is with a broken heart and deep sadness to share with you that we have lost two of our own here at Mad Greek. Xana...

Posted by Mad Greek on Monday, November 14, 2022

The family of Goncalves released an emotional statement about the loss of their daughter and sister, according to CBS affiliate KREM's Janelle Finch. 

"Kaylee was, is, and will always be our defender and protector," wrote the family, in part. "... She did absolutely everything she set her mind to. She didn't hold back on love, fights, or life." 

In the statement, the family also asked that people "refrain from spreading harmful rumors" about the deaths of the four students. 

Shortly after Moscow police announced the death investigation, students at the University of Virginia were also told to shelter in place after police said a suspect gunned down fellow students on a bus as they returned from a school field trip. The shooting left three members of the school's football team dead and two students injured. The shooting touched off an intense manhunt Sunday, and authorities announced Monday that a suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., had been apprehended.

The deaths at both universities had officials and other colleges sending messages of condolences.

"We were shocked to learn of the tragic deaths of four [I]daho students this weekend in Moscow. We mourn for the lives lost, and grieve with their loved ones and the entire Vandal community," Boise State University wrote on Twitter on Monday. "Our hearts also go out to the UVA community where violence has claimed three lives."

Lauren McLean, the mayor of Boise, also shared a message of support

"I am deeply saddened by the news from the University of Idaho today, and I am heartbroken for the family and friends of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves. The entire @UIdaho community is in my heart during this unspeakable tragedy," McLean tweeted.

U.S. Representative Mike Simpson tweeted that he and his wife, Kathy Simpson, were sending their deepest condolences to the UI students' families.

"Our hearts ache for your loss," Simpson wrote. "Today we are all Vandals."

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