Stunning Mistakes Complicate Idaho College Murder Investigation
Idaho officials dealing with a quadruple homicide have made a series of major communication mistakes that could impact their ability to solve the case, according to some experts.
This month, University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves were killed in an off-campus house where they lived in the 26,000-person town of Moscow.
After finding the bodies on Nov. 13, police initially said there was no threat to anyone in the small community, but later walked that statement back, Fox News reported.
As of Friday, police still had no motive in the case, no suspect, and had not recovered the murder weapon, according to the New York Post. The last police update on the investigation was on Tuesday.
“Investigators have given out too much information,” said Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York Police Department sergeant, according to Fox.
The initial statement that no one should worry was labeled by retired NYPD Sgt. Herman Weisberg as a “big misstep.”
“They don’t have an identified suspect, and they still don’t have a motive, so until you have those two extremely vital pieces you can’t set the public’s mind at ease,” he said.
“I personally cringe when I see the media and the public’s demands for information outweigh the need to preserve the integrity of the investigation,” Weisberg said. “This is all because of the armchair detectives out there on social media.”
Weisberg added that the killer or killers could have discarded crucial evidence that investigators might have used to “weed out false confessions,” Fox reported.
Moscow Mayor Art Bettge contributed to the early deluge of questionable comments when he called the killings a “crime of passion.” He later walked that comment back.
Giacalone also had harsh words for Latah County Coroner Catthy Mabbutt, who has publicly detailed her conclusions about how and when the victims were stabbed.
“It was not only surprising but aggravating,” he said. “It is not her place to investigate this thing on TV and speculate.”
Police have said they are investigating comments that Goncalves might have made about having a stalker.
“We are not done looking into that piece of information,” Col. Kedrick Willis of the Idaho State Police said, according to the New York Post.
“We continue looking into the stalker issue and are asking for any information from the public on this topic,” said Aaron Snell, communications director for the Idaho State Police, according to Fox News.