Idaho murders: 25 to 40% of students chose not to return to campus, university says

(University of Idaho)

The University of Idaho, reeling from the violent stabbing deaths of four coeds, has estimated that 25 to 40% of its students have not returned to campus, Fox News has learned.

Jodi Walker, executive director of communications for the University of Idaho, cited "faculty feedback and residence hall numbers" in reporting that "60-75 percent of our students are on campus." As of October 2022, the school boasted a student body of 11,507 people.



Moscow – home to the university and the city where the off-campus murders occurred – had a population of approximately 25,850 as of 2021.

Last week, a university spokesperson told Fox News Digital the school was "not tracking" or keeping a list of students who chose not to return.


University of Idaho students

Sunday marked three weeks since Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, both 20, and Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21, were found killed inside a home at 1122 King Road. The murders were reported on Nov. 13, just days before many students left campus for Fall Recess and the Thanksgiving holiday. 

At the time, university President Scott Green announced that the school had "asked our faculty to work with each student to complete the semester either in-person or remotely."

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"We have heard from students with varied needs," Green said in a video released Nov. 26. "Some are not comfortable being back in Moscow until a suspect is in custody. Others are asking for in-person classes and the structure that life on campus brings."


A Moscow police officer is seen fixing the crime scene tape outside of the home where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Meanwhile, investigators are still working to identify a suspect, and have not yet recovered the weapon. 

Longtime U.S. Marshal Service Commander Lenny DePaul, who is now retired, told Fox News Digital investigators will "absolutely" be analyzing those students who chose not to return for any connection with the quadruple homicide. 

"Students that decided not to come back to school, I'm sure they're looking at all of them and see if there's any relationship or any conversations they were had via social media, direct messaging, cellular intercepts," said DePaul, former commander of the U.S. Marshal Service’s New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force. "Regardless of how any connection was made, they're going to look at everybody."

He added, "I'm sure the obvious is, they're scared to death to go back to school because there is no suspect, this case is not closed. And it's troublesome, obviously, for anybody to want to return to a crime scene is as horrific as this one. However, you can't rule anybody out at this point."

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Neither DePaul nor the U.S. Marshal Service is currently involved in the investigation, but the USMS has offered to assist if needed. 


(General view of the home at 1112 King Road in Moscow, Idaho on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital))

DePaul has had a hand in several high-profile investigations, including the infamous "D.C. Sniper" case of 2002. 

He said Moscow is a "small town," and as such, investigators are likely "looking [at] and talking to everybody."

"If you work this investigation, no stones are left unturned," he went on. "They're flipping everybody's worlds upside down."

The slain students were discovered dead inside a three-story home located just a block from the University of Idaho campus perimeter and within eyeshot of some fraternity houses. 


General view of the Sigma Chi house in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Visible in the background just to the left of the roof is the home where four University of Idaho students, including Sigma Chi fraternity brother Ethan Chapin were murder

Kernodle, Goncalves, and Mogen lived at the home with two other women, who were not injured. A sixth person was listed on the lease but was said to have moved out and police did not believe they were involved. Chapin was Kernodle's boyfriend and was with her at the time of the attack. 

Police have said the victims were asleep around 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Nov. 13 when they were stabbed multiple times on the second and third floors of the three-story home. The medical examiner determined some of the victims had shown signs of fighting back. 

RELATED: Police address stalker rumor in University of Idaho murders investigation

Moscow Police officers responded around 11:58 a.m. to a report of an "unconscious person" at the address, but several people had gathered at the crime scene by the time police arrived, officials said.

Investigators believe the attack was "targeted," police said, despite some confusion as to how or why. Police have not identified the intended victim.  

The 911 call "originated from inside the residence," and came from one of the surviving roommates' cellphones, police said. Multiple people allegedly spoke to the dispatcher before officers arrived.


The home where four University of Idaho students were murdered Nov. 13. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Mogen and Goncalves were sleeping on the same floor, in the same bed, when they were stabbed multiple times, according to police and family members. Chapin and Kerndodle were on a different floor. 

The surviving roommates were on the bottom floor of the home at the time and survived. 

Investigators have received more than 2,645 emails and over 2,770 calls to the City of Moscow tipline, police said Saturday. The FBI has received more than 1,084 digital media submissions.

RELATED: Former Idaho prosecutor who visited house where students were murdered reveals killer's possible path

Police are also analyzing 113 pieces of physical evidence and about 4,000 photos from the King Road crime scene. 

The Moscow Police Department is urging the public to submit any images or information that they think could be important or useful to their investigation. They can do so by calling 208-883-7180, submitting tips through, and sending digital media here.

Authorities have also created a dedicated webpage related to the King Road attack.