Idaho murders: University student describes grappling with new, 'unsettling reality' in Moscow

Sunday marked three weeks since four University of Idaho college students were murdered in the off-campus Moscow home

A University of Idaho senior has penned an op-ed describing the moments she learned of the murders of four fellow students, and how she is now grappling with a new, "unsettling reality." 

"I am frustrated," wrote University of Idaho journalism and marketing student Katarina Hockema.

"Maddened by the cruelty and disregard for human life this person (or these people) displayed. Anxious from the lack of critical information, and the seemingly endless days of little to no updates. Anxious for my safety, as a lack of suspect and a lack of threat do not align. Saddened and heartbroken for these families, these friends, and all of those who were close to Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves," she wrote.

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Kernodle, Chapin, Mogen and Goncalves were discovered fatally stabbed inside a home on King Road in Moscow, Idaho – just one block from the University of Idaho campus and within eyeshot of some fraternity houses. Their murders, which were first reported on Nov. 13, remain unsolved more than three weeks later. 

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In "University of Idaho student recounts the painful weeks since four students were killed," Hockema, an Alaska native, detailed first learning that there had been a homicide near campus, then discovering that four people were killed. 

"Four? What do you mean four? That’s impossible," she recalled thinking. 

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Hockema wrote that she took a class with Kernodle and knew of the other victims through friends or from seeing them on or near campus. 

"Despite all of this, I don’t pretend to have known them," she wrote. "But U of I is a small campus, and this touches all of us. Every student."

Her sense of safety "has been an ever-swinging pendulum," she continued.

"[M]y feelings of security have been rattled. In some ways, I don’t believe I will ever view Moscow in the same light. Is it still the quiet, safe, small town it was before?" she wrote. "Pepper spray isn’t exactly the kind of thoughtful roommate gift you think you need until it’s attached to your keychain, weighing you down with the truth of your new reality."

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She added, "I am still an Idaho Vandal. We are ‘Brave and Bold’ according to our university’s motto. For the past few weeks, I haven’t felt that way."

Earlier this week, University of Idaho spokesperson Jodi Walker cited "faculty feedback and residence hall numbers" in reporting that "60-75 percent of our students are on campus." As of October 2022, the school boasted a student body of 11,507 people. 

Flowers at an improvised memorial at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, for four of its students who were slain on Nov. 13.

Flowers at an improvised memorial at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, for four of its students who were slain on Nov. 13. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Moscow Police officers responded around 11:58 a.m. on Nov. 13 to a report of an "unconscious person" at the King Road address, but several people had gathered at the crime scene by the time police arrived, officials said.

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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.

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

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

Officials have said the victims were asleep around 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Nov. 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 showed signs of fighting back.

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

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The home where four University of Idaho students were murdered Nov. 13.

The home where four University of Idaho students were murdered Nov. 13. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

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

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

Map of Idaho murder victims' activity late on Nov. 12 and early on Nov. 13.

Map of Idaho murder victims' activity late on Nov. 12 and early on Nov. 13. (Fox News)

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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. 

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 tipline@ci.moscow.id.us, and sending digital media here.

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