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A “Crime of Passion” Claims the Lives of Four University of Idaho Students

USA "Crime of Passion" Claims the Lives of Four University of Idaho Students

On Monday, four University of Idaho students were discovered dead near campus in what a local official termed a “act of passion.”

Art Bettge, the mayor of Moscow, Idaho, said in an interview that investigators were still investigating the incident, but the matter was being investigated as a murder. He said that officials did not feel there was a “perceivable threat to the general public,” but he refused to disclose how the victims were slain or whether a suspect was still at large.

Mr. Bettge said, “With a crime of this nature, it’s really tough to work through,” adding that the police need time to determine what had occurred.

Sunday, officers responded to a report about a “unconscious person” and found three women and one male dead in a home near the University of Idaho campus. On Monday, they named the victims as Ethan Chapin, 20, from Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, from Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, from Rathdrum, Idaho.

The Latah County coroner, Cathy Mabbutt, said that all four deaths were being investigated as murders and not as a murder-suicide. On Wednesday, according to Ms. Mabbutt, her office will perform autopsies. She said that she was unable to discuss the manner in which the victims were slain without police permission.

Monday’s classes were postponed when the University of Idaho established that every casualty was a student.

Scott Green, the president of the institution, stated in a statement to students and workers, “Words cannot sufficiently explain the brightness these students gave to the world or alleviate the depth of sadness we feel at their untimely departure.”

The fatalities happened on the same day as a shooting at the University of Virginia that resulted in the deaths of three football players and the wounding of two more. This campus was secured for 12 hours before the police revealed that a 22-year-old student had been apprehended and charged.

Located in the rolling wheat fields over the border from Pullman, Washington, where the considerably bigger Washington State University is located, Moscow is a college town of around 25,000 inhabitants. More than 10,000 students attend the University of Idaho campus, which emphasises engineering and agriculture. Since 2015, the city has been free of homicides.

The murders occurred in a residence in a neighbourhood under a water tower bearing the university’s emblem. On Monday, many automobiles were stopped in front of a grey residence that was ringed by police tape. Concerned about the recent events, a few of the neighborhood’s pupils said that they were leaving the city.

Paige Carter, a senior majoring in public relations who lives in a neighbouring home, said that she and her roommate were on their way to the airport. Several of her neighbours had departed already.

She remarked, “We’re just afraid of the situation.” We haven’t heard a lot of information. Therefore, we are uncertain about our beliefs.

Bailey Briggs, a senior majoring in environmental science who resides in an adjacent building, said that she initially heard about the case via the university’s alert system, but that she has gotten little updates since.

She said that despite the police’s assurances that there is no immediate danger, many individuals remain concerned. She said, “They claim it’s a murder, and they’re 100 percent convinced of it” However, there is no danger. What does it imply, exactly?”

Jazzmin Kernodle, the elder sister of Ms. Kernodle, said in a text message sent on Monday evening that she and her family were “confused and impatiently awaiting” information on the inquiry.

Students and workers will have access to counselling services, according to university administrators. A vigil with lighting was planned.

According to their online profiles, the four victims all looked to be close friends who were engaged in university fraternities and sororities.

Ms. Goncalves, one of the victims, shared a photo of herself and three other victims posing together on Instagram on the day of the murders. Ms. Mogen wears a “Idaho” sweater and sits on the shoulders of Ms. Goncalves, while Mr. Chapin throws his arm around Ms. Kernodle in the shot.

About two weeks ago, Ms. Kernodle posted a series of photographs with Mr. Chapin for his birthday, including one in which they appeared to be dressed as the protagonists from the film “Ratatouille” for a costume party, with Mr. Chapin dressed as a cook and Ms. Kernodle as the character’s friend and co-worker, a rat.

Jazzmin Kernodle said that her sister was “very upbeat, humorous, and well-liked by anyone who encountered her,” adding, “She made me such a proud older sibling, and I wish I spent more time with her. So much of her life remained.”

She said that the three other victims were close friends of her sister, and that her sister had been “blessed” to have them in her life.

Egann Willis, a former classmate of Mr. Chapin’s at Mount Vernon High School in Washington State, said that Mr. Chapin was an outstanding basketball player for the school’s Bulldogs and graduated in 2021 before enrolling at the University of Idaho.

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