Idaho murders: Was Kaylee Goncalves the killer's main target? Police respond

Idaho state police reveal new details about why they believe college students' murders were targeted

MOSCOW, Idaho - EXCLUSIVE: Police initially called the shocking stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students in their off-campus home an "isolated, targeted" attack, but they've kept most details under wraps as they continue to seek out their suspect.

Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, were found dead at a house just yards off campus, hours after police say someone attacked them in their sleep on Nov. 13. The three women lived there, and Chapin was visiting his girlfriend, Kernodle.

Police have kept quiet about crime scene specifics to protect the integrity of their ongoing investigation. However, on Friday, investigators clarified some of their reasoning in an interview with Fox News Digital.

"When the chief said that [the slayings were targeted], and [investigators] still believe that now, it didn't appear that there was any forced entry into the residence," said Aaron Snell, communications director for the Idaho State Police. "There were survivors of this. And then as well, based on the evidence internally at the scene, that has led detectives to believe and continue to believe that this was a targeted event."

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Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, along with the women's two other roommates in Kaylee Goncalves' final Instagram post, shared the day before the slayings.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, along with the women's two other roommates in Kaylee Goncalves' final Instagram post, shared the day before the slayings. (@kayleegoncalves/Instagram)

He declined to discuss what evidence was recovered inside the scene or to identify whom and how many of the victims specifically the killer was targeting.

In a televised interview, Goncalves' father, Steve Goncalves, reportedly told CNN that he had been informed that there was only one target among the four victims. Separately, he told Fox News last week that the attacker had been "sloppy" and left behind an abundance of evidence.

"The family members, what they say is up to them," Snell said. "The information that we try to release is to the best of our ability, vetted and accurate and correct – and as well, to protect the integrity of the investigation."

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Law enforcement vehicles on the scene of the Idaho quadruple murder.

Law enforcement vehicles on the scene of the Idaho quadruple murder. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

He declined to discuss the crime scene details but said he had no qualms about the families speaking out.

"That's totally understandable that he would want to make comments, and that's that's up to him," Snell said. "That's fine."

Whatever the killer's intent was upon entry, the unknown suspect or suspects did not leave until after hacking to death four young people. 

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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)

Chapin was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management, the University of Idaho said. Kernodle and Mogen were both part of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and were marketing majors. Goncalves, a general studies major, belonged to Alpha Phi.

Two of the victims were sleeping on the second floor, and two were on the third, but police have not confirmed whom was found where – or whether the bedroom doors were locked after the slayings.

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The Moscow, Idaho, Police Department.

The Moscow, Idaho, Police Department. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

"We have not released any of that information," Snell said. "We believe that's pertinent to the investigation. There's a lot of questions surrounding that, and we recognize that, and we want to provide that information when we can – but at this point in the investigation, we can't."

Multiple 911 callers alerted authorities around noon on Nov. 13, and officers initially arrived in response to a report of an unconscious person. They found four victims dead inside.

The Latah County coroner later said that all four were victims of homicide by stabbing – and that their wounds had likely been inflicted in their sleep.

Madison Mogen had a pair of pink cowgirl boots that are still displayed in the window of her rental home near the University of Idaho campus. 

Madison Mogen had a pair of pink cowgirl boots that are still displayed in the window of her rental home near the University of Idaho campus.  (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital/ Instagram)

Authorities and the property manager have not confirmed whose bedrooms were where. Mogen's boots were visible on the upper-level window alongside a pink letter "M," suggesting that she occupied the third floor.

Goncalves' family told Fox News last week that she and Mogen were very close, like sisters.

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"Maddie was in our oldest daughter's wedding," Kristi Goncavles said. "She said, ‘All of my sisters are my bridesmaids,' and Maddie was one of those bridesmaids, and it was all of Alivea's sisters, including Maddie."

Two roommates, who were asleep on the ground level, were not attacked. Neither was a pet dog in the home.

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John Kelly, a criminal profiler and psychotherapist with experience interviewing serial killers, said that due to the lack of publicly available details, he's "up in the air" about whether the attacker was a random stalker or someone familiar with the inside of the home.

But one thing is clear, he said. "He really, really is a savage, with no concern or empathy or anything like that," he told Fox News Digital.

Police and the FBI, who worked through Thanksgiving trying to find answers in murder mystery, are asking anyone with any information on the case – no matter how small – to get in touch.

"We are looking at all angles," Snell said. "Our concept is that if we start getting pigeonholed into a specific idea, we may miss other tips in other pieces of this investigation."

FBI and police investigators return to the Idaho crime scene on Nov. 25, days after four students were brutally stabbed in their sleep.

FBI and police investigators return to the Idaho crime scene on Nov. 25, days after four students were brutally stabbed in their sleep. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital.)

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So far, he said, investigators have received more than a thousand tips in the case and are working through them.

"If anybody has information, we're interested," he added. "We believe that what's in a possible video surveillance tape is just as important as what might not be in it, to help us get a clearer picture."

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They are also looking into whether Goncalves may have had a stalker – a suggestion that they have so far been unable to corroborate.

Anyone with information on a stalker, or on the case in general, is asked to call the tip line at 208-883-7180 or to email tipline@ci.moscow.id.us.