U of I to offer hybrid courses, examine academic options into the new year

The University of Idaho will offer in-person and online learning options for the final two weeks of the semester, university president Scott Green announced Tuesday. The move comes as police continue their search for the person(s) who murdered four students in an off-campus house days before Thanksgiving break.

As Vandal families follow the homicide investigation — which has produced no suspects so far — some are second-guessing sending their students back to campus until an arrest has been made.

In response, university leadership asked faculty to offer in-person and online learning options to accommodate students who may not return to Moscow for the final two weeks of the semester. Faculty will communicate course-specific options to students directly.

In a press release Tuesday, Green nodded to the families of the four victims — 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 — who are heading into the holiday season with heavy hearts.

“As we gather with family and friends this week, remember those who have empty seats at their tables,” Green said. “Remember those who grieve. This senseless crime has shaken us all. It has also brought us closer, caused people to step up and support one another, and perform selfless acts of kindness. For that, I am thankful for this Vandal Family.”

While university officials remain focused on students and families, police are continuing to investigate the quadruple homicide.

The Moscow Police Department held its third press conference since the beginning of the case Wednesday. Little new information surfaced, but law enforcement leaders restated their commitment to solving the murders and asked for patience from the public.

“The loss of these students remains the highest priority for the Moscow Police Department,” said Captain Roger Lanier of Moscow PD.

Chapin, Kernodle, Goncalves and Mogen were stabbed to death in the early hours of Nov. 13. Investigators are still searching for the fixed blade knife or knives used in quadruple homicide.

Officers are also seeking more information on a tip that Goncalves may have had a stalker — an assertion they’ve been unable to corroborate through the investigation so far.

The department maintains that the homicides were targeted attacks, but will not speak to the details leading to that determination to protect the investigation. Still, Lanier encouraged students Wednesday to remain vigilant, travel in pairs and notify others when they leave or arrive at their location.

Since the homicides came to light Nov. 13, the U of I has boosted its own security force, and the Idaho State Police have had an increased presence on campus. The university is also asking campus Greek life chapters to examine their own security protocols.

Increased mental health and grief resources will continue into the week after Thanksgiving. Counseling is available for students and employees, alongside added academic support.

A vigil to commemorate Chapin, Goncalves, Kernodle and Mogen will be held at the Moscow campus Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. PST. A final location will be shared later in the week. A coinciding vigil will be held in Boise at the U of I Water Center at 6 p.m. the same evening.

The university will continue to follow the investigation and examine its academic plan accordingly into the new year.

The facts of the case so far

Investigators released a timeline of the slain students’ whereabouts before the homicides took place. They encourage anyone with information to to call 208-883-7180 or email [email protected] with tips.

Chapin and Kernodle attended a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house and returned home by 1:45 a.m. Sunday. Goncalves and Mogen also returned home by 1:45 a.m., after visiting a bar, The Corner Club, and a food truck in downtown Moscow.

They were taken home by a private party driver, who is not believed to be involved in the homicide, according to police. An individual in a white hoodie, spotted in footage of the two girls at the food truck, is also not a suspect.

All four victims were stabbed multiple times, and were likely sleeping when the attacks occurred. They were found on the second and third floors of the six-bedroom home.

Two female roommates survived the attack, but are not believed to be involved in the crime, police say. The initial call reporting the crime came from one of the roommate’s phones. Multiple people spoke to dispatchers, and none are believed to be involved in the crime.

Investigators are also aware of multiple calls made from Mogen’s and Goncalves’ phones to a male subject that Saturday night, but Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Sunday police do not believe the calls are connected to the murders.

Over 100 officers, investigators and support staff from Moscow police, the Latah County Sheriff’s Office, ISP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are on the case.

And up to $1 million has been made available to the investigation by Gov. Brad Little, Colonel Kedrick Wills announced Wednesday. The governor is a graduate of the university.

Police have received over 1,000 tips and conducted 150 interviews since the case began. They’ve collected 103 pieces of evidence, 4,000 photographs and conducted multiple 3D scans of the crime scene.

Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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