Idaho murder victim's family, lawyer meet with police over strained relationship

Tuesday marked one month since the quadruple homicide in Moscow, and police have yet to name a suspect

The grieving family of slain University of Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves had an in-person meeting with police and local officials Monday to repair their increasingly strained relationship.

Family attorney Shanon Gray, who arranged the face-to-face, said the discussion focused on accountability and communication.

"I was pretty stern," Gray told Fox News Digital in an interview Tuesday. He told the group, including Moscow Police Chief James Fry, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson and other investigators on the case, that the family was frustrated by the inconsistencies in their public statements and the lack of communication.

"If you have one voice, and it's consistent, people trust in your investigation," Gray said. "If there are three to four different stories coming from three to four different people, and they're different takes on things, that diminishes the trust."

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Steven Goncalves, his wife Kristi Goncalves, and their murdered daughter, Kaylee Goncalves. 

Steven Goncalves, his wife Kristi Goncalves, and their murdered daughter, Kaylee Goncalves.  (Ted Warren via AP/Instagram)

More than one month has passed since 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, her best friend Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Nov. 13 inside a rental home near campus. Police have yet to publicly name a suspect.

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Gray, whom the family hired last week, highlighted the most egregious contradictions from officials during Monday's meeting at the Latah County Courthouse law library.  

The lawyer for Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves' family, Shanon Gray, arranged a meeting Monday with officials investigating the quadruple homicide.

The lawyer for Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves' family, Shanon Gray, arranged a meeting Monday with officials investigating the quadruple homicide. (Fox News Digital)

Moscow Mayor Art Bettge called the murders a "crime of passion" before backtracking and saying this motive was one of many being probed by investigators. Thompson called the killings "targeted" in a news interview, which police later called a miscommunication before reversing course again and agreeing with his position.

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The family was particularly upset by Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt's statements, said Gray, a former state prosecutor in Portland, Oregon. 

"I could go on for days about the coroner," Gray added, in an exasperated tone. "Cathy Mabbutt made some personal phone calls to some of the family and released a lot of information that investigators didn't know about," he said.

Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry speaks at a press conference a week after four students were murdered near the University of Idaho campus. 

Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry speaks at a press conference a week after four students were murdered near the University of Idaho campus.  (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

In an exclusive interview Sunday, Steve Goncalves told Fox News Digital that Mabbutt had shared explicit details of Kaylee's injuries with one of his underage daughters.

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"When you're a coroner, you kind of have to go to the parents," he said. Goncalves added that the coroner "embellished a bunch of stuff, like her own hypotheses of what happened and her theory of things." 

A photo combination of the Latah County coroner and the four students who were  stabbed to death Nov. 13 in a rental home near campus.

A photo combination of the Latah County coroner and the four students who were  stabbed to death Nov. 13 in a rental home near campus. (Courtesy of Cathy Mabbutt/Instagram)

She had also shared with the father details of the other victims’ injuries, which he felt was inappropriate.

The main purpose of the meeting, though, was to move forward and improve communication with the family, Gray noted.

"We should never find out anything new in the investigation from a press release or a newspaper interview," he said, adding that the police should tell the family first.

The Goncalves family supports the police and wants nothing more than for them to succeed in solving the case, but they also want to be treated with respect, Gray added. 

"We're optimistic, we're hopeful the police are moving in the right direction," he said. "We support them."

General views of the home in Moscow, Idaho, Sunday, December 4, 2022, where a quadruple homicide took place on November 13.

General views of the home in Moscow, Idaho, Sunday, December 4, 2022, where a quadruple homicide took place on November 13. (Hunter Richards for Fox News Digital)

As disturbing rumors swirl on social media, Gray is urging the public to treat the victims' families, many of whom have been viciously attacked online, with more empathy.

"If there was a little more kindness and grace in this world, I think we would all be better off," he said.

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Mabbutt and the Moscow Police Department didn't immediately return a request for comment. Police are asking the public to call in tips at 208-883-7180, email tipline@ci.moscow.id.us or submit digital media here.