Idaho murders: Moscow police chief floats potential release of 911 call
MOSCOW, Idaho - Authorities may be warming up to the idea of releasing a 911 call in the unsolved slayings of four University of Idaho students.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry floated the possibility of making the recording public in an interview with a local TV station Tuesday.
"I think it'll be released when the prosecution believes that we can release that," Fry said of the call, which police have so far said little about, other than that it was placed from a surviving roommate's phone and that multiple people spoke with the dispatcher.
"That may be at trial," Fry told the Spokane-based KREM-TV in a rare sitdown interview. "That may be before then."
He declined to say whether anything specific on the call could help detectives make an arrest.
"I can't discuss that," he said. "It's part of the investigation, but as soon as we can release that information, we will."
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Police have said that just before noon on Nov. 13, someone called 911 to report an "unconscious person" in the King Road house. Officers arrived to find Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21, along with Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, both 20, dead on the second and third floors of the house. Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt later said all of them had suffered multiple stab wounds.
Two other housemates whose rooms were on the bottom level were not attacked, according to authorities.
Fry came under fire earlier in the investigation after assuring the public that there was no "ongoing threat" after an unknown assailant went into an off-campus rental house and fatally stabbed four "likely sleeping" students, then escaped without a trace.
"I take responsibility for information not getting out as fast as possible," he told the interviewer. "I probably should have been much quicker on that."
Fry said the number of tips coming in has surpassed 17,000 as the case nears its seventh week without a suspect.
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Mogen and Goncalves spent part of the evening in downtown Moscow at the Corner Club bar and were seen ordering snacks at a food truck before they caught a ride home around 2 a.m. Kernodle and Chapin were at a party about 200 yards away at the Sigma Chi fraternity house, where the latter was a member, and returned around 1:45 a.m., according to police.
Police have released few new details after announcing on Dec. 7 that they were looking for a white Hyundai Elantra, from between 2011 and 2013, which they believe was near the crime scene around the time of the slayings.
However, they have avoided answering questions about whether they have photographs placing the vehicle at the scene and have released only stock images as they ask the public for help tracking down the driver.
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"As we have stated previously, based on information gathered throughout this investigation, we are seeking information on a 2011 to 2013 white Hyundai Elantra that we believe was in the area when the crime took place," Moscow Police Capt. Anthony Dahlinger told Fox News Digital Wednesday.
Records obtained by Fox News Digital show there were 90 similar cars registered to park on campus, but police have said they were working their way through a list of 22,000.
Experts say authorities have many reasons to be tight-lipped in an active investigation, but the lack of information has frustrated people around the country – especially the tens of thousands following the case on social media.
"You don’t want to release any information that will inhibit the investigation," said Brian Higgins, a former chief of police and public safety director in Bergen County, New Jersey, and an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "But you have to give information to the public either to make them safer or make them feel safer."
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Separately, after weeks of snow and rain, the University of Idaho removed a series of makeshift memorials for the victims around the perimeter of its campus this week.
"Memorial items were removed over the break, after being exposed to snow after several weeks," said Kyle Pfannenstiel, a university spokesman. "Items that can be salvaged after being out in the winter weather will be kept. There is no formal plan for these items. People are welcome to leave new memorial items."
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Tips can be submitted by phone to 208-883-7180 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Digital media can be shared with investigators at fbi.gov/moscowidaho.