Requests for welfare checks surge in aftermath of student slayings

The University of Idaho community mourns the loss of four students through a spontaneous memorial at the entrance to the campus. (Photo by Garrett Britton, University Visual Production)

As classes resume Monday at the University of Idaho, police have reported a big uptick in calls for welfare checks.

Since Nov. 13 — the day four U of I students were found slain in an off-campus house — the Moscow Police Department has received 78 “calls for unusual circumstances” and 36 requests for welfare checks.

For the entire month of October, those call numbers totaled 70 and 18, respectively.

“We understand there is a sense of fear in the community,” Moscow police said in a Sunday news release.

Police have not identified a suspect in the killings of Ethan Chapin, 20, a freshman from Mount Vernon, Wash.; Kaylee Goncalves, 21, a senior from Rathdrum; Xana Kernodle, 20, a junior from Post Falls; and Madison Mogen, 21, a senior from Coeur d’Alene. The four students died of multiple stab wounds.

On Sunday, police also defended their slow release of information — a policy that has marked the ongoing and heavily scrutinized investigation.

“Only vetted information that does not hinder the investigation will be released to the public,” Moscow police said. “There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts.”

In other recent developments in the investigation:

  • While police have not identified a suspect, they believe several people are not connected with the homicides. That list includes two other roommates in the off-campus house, who were unhurt in the attacks; a man spotted on a surveillance video near a food truck, where Goncalves and Mogen were seen in the early morning hours of Nov. 13; and a “private party driver” who took Goncalves and Mogen home on Nov. 13.
  • Police said they have reviewed “hundreds of pieces of information” suggesting that Goncalves had a stalker. Police said they “have not verified or identified a stalker.”
  • Police said there is no evidence linking the Nov. 13 slayings to a 1999 double stabbing in Pullman, Wash., and a 2021 double stabbing in Salem, Ore., that left one victim dead.
  • Gov. Brad Little has said the state will dedicate up to $1 million in emergency funds for the investigation.

The U of I reopened Monday after its Thanksgiving week break. But even before the break, an unknown number of students left campus in the days after the slayings.

On Tuesday, the U of I said it would offer in-person and virtual class options during the remaining two weeks of fall semester.

Share your story: If you’re a U of I student, parent or professor, we’d like to hear from you about how you’re approaching the remainder of the semester. Contact Kevin Richert at [email protected] or (208) 867-1403.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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