Moscow, Idaho (CNN) — Nine days after the killings of four students attending the University of Idaho, police have not arrested any suspects but are “definitely making progress,” according to an outside public information official.

“It takes time to piece together and piece together the entire timeline of events and the picture of what actually happened,” said Aaron Snell, Director of Communications for the Idaho State Police. “A lot of this isn’t seen by the public because it’s a criminal investigation. But I guarantee you there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes.”

That work includes interviews with more than 90 people as detectives investigate more than 700 leads.

But Moscow, a city of about 26,000, hadn’t registered a homicide since 2015. The quadruple homicide rocked the small university community, and anxiety has only grown over the continued lack of answers.

Information flow

Much of the information in the case will ultimately be used for prosecution and cannot be made public, risking interference with justice, Snell said.

But the scant details available to the public and the confusion over early police statements have not eased community concerns.

Initially, the Moscow Police told the public that the attack was targeted and did not pose a threat to the public. But on the fourth day, Police Chief Jason Fry adjusted that statement: “We can’t say there isn’t a threat to the community.”

Snell acknowledges that the initial message may have been wrong, given that the 30 or so members of the Moscow Police Department initially responded to the crime scene, without dedicated public information personnel within the Department.

Within a few days, the Department had to turn to outside resources to assist in the investigation, including Snell.

In addition to the hundreds of leads, police are also trawling through large files of surveillance footage sent in by residents from the early morning hours, when police believe the murders occurred.
“It’s a very big operation, a very big investigation and it’s a very terrible crime,” Snell said.

Other angles are taking longer to investigate. A fixed-blade knife is believed to have been used in the attack on the students, and to aid the investigation, law enforcement asked local businesses to provide evidence if such a knife had been purchased. As of Tuesday, Snell says no local businesses have provided information that a knife matching that description has been purchased or obtained.

threat to the public

When the perpetrator or perpetrators of such a violent crime have not been apprehended, there is a threat to the public, Snell said.

“We recognize that it’s always prudent for people to lock their doors, walk in pairs, be aware of what they’re doing. There is someone or a few people out there who are murderers, and we want to find them and bring them to justice,” Snell said.

Snell told CNN there may be more than one person responsible for the killings. He also reiterated that the Police continue to believe that it is a selective attack, partly because of the evidence found at the scene and the fact that two people from the house survived.

Some students have since left the area to take remote classes, telling CNN that police statements have not been reassuring.

idaho student homicide

Ethan Chapin, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21, were found dead on November 13, according to police. Credit: CNN

The University of Idaho president said Tuesday that many students have given the school information about how they hope to proceed after fall break, resulting in a decision to allow students to finish the remainder of the semester either in person or remotely.

In his message, University of Idaho President Scott Green said: “Faculty have been asked to prepare in-person teaching and distance learning options so that each student can choose their method of engagement for the final two weeks. of the semester. Moving courses fully online is not preferred, but may be necessary in limited situations.”

However, other members of the community, including the mother of victim Ethan Chapin, have expressed their patience and gratitude for the work of the Police Department.

At a memorial service held Monday night, Stacy Chapin thanked the “Moscow Police Department, who now carry the charge every day not only for us, but for all the families affected.”

dispel the rumors

In the absence of details, rumors have soared about the case, which has meant that the Police have to publicly dispel them, one by one.

“As people take to the streets and talk about this case, public sentiment changes,” Snell said. “They’re confused. They’re upset. We want to try to dispel the rumors, and we want to try to make sure that the truth is out there.”

Investigators “extensively” reviewed hundreds of leads that victim Kaylee Goncalves had a stalker, but “have not been able to verify or identify a stalker,” Police said in a Facebook post. this Tuesday.

Police previously said that surviving roommates and friends who made the 911 call and spoke to officers have already been excluded as suspects. A man seen on surveillance video near two of the victims was also eliminated as a suspect, as was a driver who brought two of the victims home.

And the report of a dog “skinned” three weeks before the killings is unrelated to the case, according to police.

Moscow police said Monday that a dog was found at the home of the deceased, but “the dog was unharmed and was turned over to Animal Services and then turned over to a responsible party.”