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From Campus to Country Club to Crime Scene: What Happened in the Final Hours of Idaho Murder Victims

It could be anyone, in any college town in America, on any given Saturday night. This is how typical the behavior of murdered students was in Moscow, Idaho, just hours before they were brutally stabbed to death.

The University of Idaho campus was buzzing that day, a sea of ​​gold and silver as the Vandals prepared for a home game against the UC Davis Aggies in the 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome. It was 28 degrees at the start of the game – the weather was listed as an eerie “icy fog” – but happy, loyal fans showed up; the Vandals’ 44-26 defeat was disappointing, but it didn’t stop the students from preparing to storm the city.

Among them were five girls who lived in a rented three-bedroom house on King Road, just over a mile from the stadium and just two blocks from campus. Kaylee Gonçalves and Maddie Mogen, both 21 years old and best friends since childhood, were going to bars downtown together. Xana Kernodle, 20, was planning to date her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20. The girls’ two other roommates would also be out for the night.

The 25,000-person city of Moscow is actually university-centric. Situated on over 1,600 acres in the southwest corner of the city center, UI is the region’s largest employer, and its 11,500 enrollees account for nearly half of Moscow’s population. Students are spread out in off-campus accommodation, sharing apartments, rented houses, sororities, and fraternities.

The girls’ house was among the closest to campus, nestled on a hill amidst other accessible houses and compounds, all of which had the look of graduation decor: fairy lights, chipped paint, secondhand furniture, and used cars from the outside. The King Road residence was known for hosting parties; roommates even make fun of themselves for it in TikTok videos.

The three female victims lived in this house on King Road with two other roommates.

(Sheila Flynn)

The five young roommates were well liked, with most, if not all, involved in sororities. Xana’s boyfriend – who was a triplet – was a member of the Signa Chi fraternity, along with her brother Hunter. The Sigma Chi house, on Nez Perce Drive, is just visible from the girls’ house at 1122 King Road; the walk down the hill, across a road and a lawn and up another hill is approximately the length of a football field and a half.

This path, on the other side of the girls’ house, leads to Taylor Road; the fraternity houses are across the field on the hill from the campus

(Sheila Flynn)

Moscow’s tiny center is also walkable from King Road and the campus, although most students – particularly in the harsh Idaho winters – get rides. It’s unclear how Kaylee and Maddie got to Main Street, but by 10:30 pm, the young women were at the Corner Club, a low-rise hotspot with its own party bus that is a “staple in the city,” according to Dylan. Bartels, UI senior, 22.

It has a broad customer base, but is particularly popular with members of fraternities and sororities, students say. The Independent🇧🇷 Like many colleges in the Greek system, there is a great divide between Greek and non-Greek social life, students said, but there is no palpable animosity and everyone tends to coexist amicably. Maddie, Xana, and another roommate were members of Pi Beta Phi; Kaylee pledged with Alpha Phi.

Kaylee and Maddie, both blonde and bubbly, were dressed in college bar casual wear—Kaylee in ripped jeans and an Idaho sweatshirt, Maddie in a black jacket, dark jeans, and black shoes. They spent about three hours at the Corner Club at the north end of Main Street; when they left, the streets were filled with other college kids looking for food and rides as they finished up the night.

Ethan and Xana were at a frat party at Sigma Chi, pictured across the street from the girls’ house; he was a member of the fraternity

(Sheila Flynn)

The pair walked straight down Main Street to a red brick building that used to house the now-defunct Garden Lounge; a food truck favorite, Grub Wandering Kitchen – affectionately called the Grub Truck by its many local fans – usually parks outside on Main Street.

Kaylee and Maddie ordered, laughed, and chatted with friends as they picked up their pasta carbonara; according to police, they caught a ride home from a “private party” and returned to King Road at around 1:45 am.

Xana and Ethan, meanwhile, had gone to a party across the street in Sigma Chi. The fraternity house is built into the hill and slopes upwards, facing Nez Perce Drive, which winds through campus and past the arboretum, just a short walk uphill. The grounds of the UI Arboretum and Botanical Garden are large, beautiful and back onto Taylor Road, just a block from the girls’ house, which you have to cross to get to Sigma Chi. That same road winds west past the arboretum, climbing into a hilly residential neighborhood; to the east, it intersects with Highway 95.

Police specifically asked for surveillance footage of areas around the highway and the arboretum.

The entrance to the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden is located on campus, just up the street from Sigma Chine fraternity

(Sheila Flynn)

Xana and Ethan returned to King Road around the same time as Kaylee and Maddie. It is unclear where they were between 9:00 pm and 1:45 am; the area would be busy right now, surrounded by other student accommodation as other young people were heading home as well. Bars close at 2am.

The other two roommates in King Road – who have yet to be identified by authorities – got home first, around 1 am, and fell asleep, according to police.

Maddie and Kaylee made several calls to the same number about an hour after they got home; Kaylee’s sister said the missed calls were made to Jack DeCoeur, who dated her sister for years before they amicably split, still sharing a dog named Murphy. The Gonçalves family said they do not believe DeCoeur was involved in the crime, and police said he is not considered a suspect.

Aside from the phone calls, the rest of the night remains a mystery. Authorities believe that an assassin or assassins fatally stabbed Ethan, Xana, Kaylee, and Maddie between 3:00 and 4:00 am; their bodies were found on the second and third floors of the house. The surviving roommates, who were in the basement, slept through what happened and didn’t wake up until hours later, police said.

Kaylee and Maddie bought food from the popular Grub Truck, which was parked outside this red brick building on Main Street in central Moscow

(Sheila Flynn)

“The surviving roommates summoned friends to the residence because they believed that one of the victims on the second floor had passed out and was not waking up,” the Moscow Police Department said Sunday in a Facebook post. “At 11:58 am, a call to 911 requested help for an unconscious person. The call came from inside the residence, on the cell phone of one of the surviving roommates. Several people spoke with the 911 dispatcher before a Moscow police officer arrived on the scene.”

It’s unclear when the “friends” arrived nor who they are, and the circumstances surrounding the 911 call were murky from the start. But the call prompted the official discovery of a brutal scene, all four victims stabbed with what police call a “fixed-blade knife”.

They still haven’t found the weapon.

According to autopsies completed last week, the victims “were likely asleep, some had defensive wounds, and each had been stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault,” police wrote on Facebook.

Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt said the wounds were “quite extensive” and said NBC News that each victim was stabbed a different number of times and in different places on the body.

She added that it was not possible to determine from the wounds the order in which the four victims were attacked. She told the local outlet Idaho news that the autopsies revealed one thing: “It’s personal.”

Since the investigation began, police have said the attack was “targeted” – but have not made any arrests or identified any suspects in the case.

Authorities held another press conference on Wednesday — 10 days after the murders — without critical updates. As Moscow prepared for a somber Thanksgiving, the city was filled with fear – and no response.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org