Idaho murders: Attacker ‘should be looking over his shoulders,’ expert warns

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As family members and some on social media are questioning investigators’ decisions to rule out certain people as suspects in the ongoing  University of Idaho murder probe, experts are cautioning the public against rushing to judgment, and noting that circumstances in such a complex case are often quick to change. 

Police handling the Moscow, Idaho, quadruple homicide investigation have tentatively ruled out seven parties as of Monday, most recently adding a man who appeared to briefly follow one of the victims to the list of those whom they said they do not believe were involved. 

“And if one of the premises is that, ‘Well, we’ve cleared so-and-so,’ they’re going to say, ‘Well, how do we know that?’”

— Paul Mauro, Fox News analyst and NYPD inspector (ret.) 

The most recent development was announced just days after Kristi Goncalves, the mother of victim Kaylee Goncalves, told NewsNation she felt that there had been “a couple of individuals that were cleared very fast that should not have been.”

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She later added: “I just know there were people that definitely should have been looked at.” 

But two experts, who have each spent time in Moscow, Idaho, during the ongoing crime investigation, emphasized that police could be clearing these people as suspects for many reasons – and could later re-examine the individuals for possible involvement should new information or evidence arise.

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“Even if this perp is out there and feels like he thinks he’s gotten one over on them because he’s been ‘cleared,’ he should be looking over his shoulder,” explained Fox News analyst Paul Mauro, a retired inspector with the New York Police Department.

Mauro, who is also an attorney, spoke to Fox News Digital on Monday from Moscow, where he has spent several days over the course of the past three weeks.

READ MOSCOW POLICE DEPARTMENT’S MOST RECENT PRESS RELEASE:

He added that police cleared some people “very early,” including several people who were tentatively ruled out after a week. 

“Because it was so early in the case, they weren’t operating off of a ton of information,” Mauro said. “And even if you are ‘cleared,’ if new information comes to light, you come back in.”

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He described two different versions of “cleared” – one in which a person has “a rock-solid alibi,” whose lack of involvement was somehow proven, and one that involves “an alibi that hasn’t been fully checked out, or perhaps something that was just a feeling that they got when doing interviews.”

“If it was something that they just felt like off of interviews or something, then maybe when they start doing the forensics, they start to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, this person has come back in,’” he said. “Remember, this is a very, very digital society. This is a very, very digital community.”

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Mauro noted that if police do hit a dead-end in their investigation, “they’re going to go back and start over, and start questioning some of the premises that they’ve been operating under.” 

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“And if one of the premises is that, ‘Well, we’ve cleared so-and-so,’ they’re going to say, ‘Well, how do we know that?’” 

Exterior of the backyard of the home in Moscow, Idaho, Sunday, December 4, 2022, where a quadruple homicide took place last month.
(Hunter Richards for Fox News Digital)

When asked if they thought police might be employing a strategy in stating publicly that they did not believe certain people were involved, Mauro and fellow Fox News analyst Ted Williams were skeptical. 

“I am very doubtful that this is some sort of strategy,” Mauro said. “I would not assess that they were in a position where they were playing some long strategy game … Because it was so early in the case, I feel like that means that, at the time, they likely believed what they released.”

Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, along with the women's two other roommates in Kaylee Goncalves' final Instagram post, shared the day before the slayings.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, along with the women’s two other roommates in Kaylee Goncalves’ final Instagram post, shared the day before the slayings.
(@kayleegoncalves/Instagram)

Williams, a former Washington, D.C. homicide detective, told Fox News Digital that the totality of the forensic circumstances led him to doubt the possibility of such a strategy. The renowned attorney called the investigation “a case of a different nature when it comes to clearing individuals.”

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The victims of Nov. 13 University of Idaho massacre. 

The victims of Nov. 13 University of Idaho massacre. 
(Instagram @xanakernodle / @maddiemogen / @kayleegoncalves)

“Whoever killed these two students would have been covered in blood and possibly may have been injured as a result of the killings,” he said. “The person or persons associated with the killing of these four students would have left a great deal of trace evidence, such as handprint, a fingerprint or footprints – all of those things law enforcement would use to rule someone in or rule somebody out, predicated based upon the forensic testing and the various evidence that they’ve gathered at the crime scene.”

The home where four University of Idaho students were murdered Nov. 13, with its three floors labeled. 

The home where four University of Idaho students were murdered Nov. 13, with its three floors labeled. 
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

He added: “In plain words, this is a different kind of a case when it comes to clearing individuals. This case is driven by the forensics. This case is driven by blood splatter. This case is driven by possible hand, fingerprints, footprints or some physical evidence that was left at the crime scene.”

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General view of the home at 1112 King Road in Moscow, Idaho on Saturday, December 3, 2022. The home was the scene of a quadruple murder on November 13, the victims were all students from the University of Idaho.

General view of the home at 1112 King Road in Moscow, Idaho on Saturday, December 3, 2022. The home was the scene of a quadruple murder on November 13, the victims were all students from the University of Idaho.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

The students – Maddie Mogen, 21, Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20 and 21-year-old Goncalves – were discovered dead inside a three-story home located just a block from the University of Idaho campus perimeter, and within eyeshot of some fraternity houses. 

Kernodle, Goncalves, and Mogen lived at the home with two other women, who were not injured. A sixth person was listed on the lease, but was said to have moved out and police did not believe they were involved. Chapin was Kernodle’s boyfriend and was with her at the time of the attack. 

Police have said the victims were asleep around 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on November 13 when they were stabbed multiple times on the second and third floors of the three-story home. The medical examiner determined some of the victims had shown signs of fighting back. 

General views of the memorial at the University of Idaho on Thursday, November 17, 2022, for the four students were murdered in Moscow, Idaho over the weekend. 

General views of the memorial at the University of Idaho on Thursday, November 17, 2022, for the four students were murdered in Moscow, Idaho over the weekend. 
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Moscow Police officers responded around 11:58 a.m. to a report of an “unconscious person” at the address, but several people had gathered at the crime scene by the time police arrived, officials said.

Investigators believe the attack was “targeted,” police said, despite some confusion as to how or why. Police have not identified the intended victim.   

Views inside the home in Moscow, Idaho shows a second floor window on Monday, November 14, 2022. Four University of Idaho students were killed over the weekend in an apparent quadruple homicide in this home.

Views inside the home in Moscow, Idaho shows a second floor window on Monday, November 14, 2022. Four University of Idaho students were killed over the weekend in an apparent quadruple homicide in this home.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

The 911 call “originated from inside the residence,” and came from one of the surviving roommates’ cellphones, police said. Multiple people allegedly spoke to the dispatcher before officers arrived.

Mogen and Goncalves were sleeping on the same floor, in the same bed, when they were stabbed multiple times, according to police and family members. Chapin and Kerndodle were on a different floor. 

A sign posted in a local diner in Moscow Idaho on Monday, November 28, 2022, asks the public to look for clues in the quadruple homicide of four students from the University of Idaho.

A sign posted in a local diner in Moscow Idaho on Monday, November 28, 2022, asks the public to look for clues in the quadruple homicide of four students from the University of Idaho.
(Stephanie Pagones/Fox News Digital)

The surviving roommates were on the bottom floor of the home at the time and survived. 

Investigators have received more than 2,645 emails and over 2,770 calls to the City of Moscow tipline, police said Saturday. The FBI has received more than 1,084 digital media submissions.

Police are also analyzing 113 pieces of physical evidence and about 4,000 photos from the King Road crime scene. 

Investigators are still working to identify a suspect, and have not yet recovered the weapon. 

State police forensics look for clues in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, November 21, 2022. Four University of Idaho students who were slain on November 13 in this house.

State police forensics look for clues in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, November 21, 2022. Four University of Idaho students who were slain on November 13 in this house.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

The Moscow Police Department is urging the public to submit any images or information that they think could be important or useful to their investigation. They can do so by calling 208-883-7180, submitting tips through [email protected], and sending digital media here

Authorities have also created a dedicated webpage related to the King Road attack. 

Source: Fox News


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