Two former detectives have expressed discomfort with the Moscow Police Department’s decision to label the recent murder of four University of Idaho students an “isolated, targeted” attack.
As previously reported, the four students — Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves — were found stabbed to death at their off-campus rented home on Nov. 13th in Moscow, Idaho.
Following the horrific tragedy, the Moscow Police Department (MPD) initially released a public statement downplaying the idea that others in the community were at risk.
“[B]ased on information from the preliminary investigation, investigators believe this was an isolated, targeted attack and there is no imminent threat to the community at large,” the department said.
Moscow Police. https://t.co/JXWdTRmNDx
— Don Day (@DonLDay) November 16, 2022
But former New York Police Department Det. Herman Weisberg wasn’t so sure.
“I think the police definitely jumped the gun with that statement. You have to have a suspect or a reason to say that. They have a murder mystery here. No forced entry, which could have led them to believe it was a crime of passion or someone who knew them,” he said to Fox News this weekend.
Former Los Angeles Police Department Det. Mark Fuhrman concurred, telling Fox News that MPD’s decision seems odd.
“The ‘targeted attack,’ even if that is true, it just doesn’t make sense. In my 20 years in the LAPD, I have never heard anything like that. You can’t make that determination that quick. To have them say this was an isolated, targeted attack, they could be 100% right, but they have to have something that made them say that,” he said.
The only possibility, Fuhrman speculated, is that the killer left a note of some kind at the murder scene — a note that MPD officers have not yet disclosed to the public.
Both Fuhrman and Weisberg also took notice of the killer’s weapon of choice: a knife.
They “said knife attacks are usually personal and violent. Furhman noted that male killers usually shoot their victims while females more frequently opt for knives,” according to Fox News.
The two aren’t the only ones who’ve raised questions about MPD’s decision:
BIG QUESTION: What exactly leads Moscow Police to believe this is an ISOLATED incident and there is no threat to the community. That’s the question we need answers to today.
— Maggie O’Mara (@maggieKTVB7) November 15, 2022
Others meanwhile have said that critics should just trust the police:
Don’t stir the pot. They are professionals. Second guessing law enforcement spreads fear. Doesn’t help.
— Anoush (@WittyCounslr) November 15, 2022
That said, MPD eventually slightly changed its story.
“We do not have a suspect at this time, and that individual is still out there. We cannot say there is no threat to the community,” MPD police chief James Fry admitted during a press conference Wednesday.
However, he then turned around and “said that police consider the killings an isolated attack — an assertion that law enforcement has made since Sunday’s slayings came to light,” according to the Idaho Capital Sun.
“But Fry would not explain why law enforcement believes this to be the case,” the Sun reported.
The update triggered backlash, with social media users questioning MPD’s competence:
Ugh. As a parent of a Idaho student, this does not sit well with me. The MPD have drastically dropped the ball.
As parents, WE WANT ANSWERS!
— Nate (@mexinorseman) November 17, 2022
The MPD does not seem too concerned that a murderer is on the loose.
— John Darwin Kurc (@iamKurc) November 17, 2022
Nothing they’ve done publicly so far inspires confidence. I hope they’ve got it more together behind the scenes.
— Carl Feher (@CJ_Feher) November 17, 2022
sounds super good at his job
— Molly Priddy (@mollypriddy) November 17, 2022
Moscow PD pic.twitter.com/qzZ8nJcjHm
— Trent Anderson (@Trandy02) November 17, 2022
The families of the victims have also raised concerns.
“There is a lack of information from the University of Idaho and the local police, which only fuels false rumors and innuendo in the press and social media,” Jim Chapin, the father of victim Ethan Chapin, told NBC News.
“The silence further compounds our family’s agony after our son’s murder. For Ethan and his three dear friends slain in Moscow, Idaho, and all of our families, I urge officials to speak the truth, share what they know, find the assailant, and protect the greater community,” he added.
Alivea Goncalves, the sister of victim Kaylee Goncalves, said she doesn’t agree with MPD’s conclusion that the murders are “isolated.”
“Anything can be isolated until it’s not. And until we have someone in custody, there’s no way with any amount of confidence to say this is isolated. Someone did this with a purpose — not once, not twice, not three times, but four. I don’t know of anything scarier than that,” she said.
The police meanwhile claim they’re doing their best.
“Currently we have 25-plus investigators working this case. We are reviewing video that has been collected, and we are asking that citizens contact us with any information you may that will help in this investigation,” Fry reportedly said.
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