The aftermath of the grisly murder of four University of Idaho students last month, in which the police are yet to announce a suspect, caused ruptures in the local community.
Many residents have become suspicious of each other and started to invent their theories about the horrifying case.
Locals Viewing Each Other as Suspects
The quadruple murder, which claimed the lives of students Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, and Ethan Chapin, was committed in November in a house near the university campus.
The stabbing deaths of the four young people, who were all members of UI fraternities and sororities, shook the small university town of Moscow, Idaho with a population of 25,000.
After the initial shock, however, the community has been gripped by suspicion and fear, mainly because local police seem to have no clue of who committed the quadruple killing and what the murderer’s motive may have been.
The mystery murder has grabbed the attention of “armchair detectives and internet sleuths” from around the world, according to an AP report.
However, the real impact of the explosion of speculations, conspiracy theories, and hypotheses is only felt in Moscow, Idaho. People are “doxxing,” i.e., sharing online the personal information of many victims’ friends and acquaintances, trying to link some to the murder.
Idaho State Police trooper Tauna Davis, who is helping police, said people in the community had begun to go “down rabbit holes” by “hyperfocusing” on a particular person, then attacking him or her. The victim of such attacks, however, is “most likely innocent.”
Julie Wiest, a professor of sociology at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania, is quoted as saying police would have typically released a lot more facts in such murder cases.
In her words, a situation where so few facts are publicly available is usually seen in “high-profile cold cases.”
Wiest noted some volunteer “detectives” might be well-intentioned. Still, they didn’t seem to realize the harm they were causing the victims’ families by putting their speculations, suspicions, and doxxing information on the internet.
The father of slain University of Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves said the victims had "big open gouges" that were clearly the work of a "sadistic male" and called police "cowards" for not sharing more with the public. #FOX13 https://t.co/FGW0PFK5Wd
— FOX 13 Seattle (@fox13seattle) December 13, 2022
Moscow, Idaho vape shop manager says Kaylee Goncalves told him about a stalker 3 weeks before the murders.
“I asked is it at school? And she was like no. It is at night when I’m going out to the bars or coming back from the bars.” pic.twitter.com/pt1dgo2FnQ
— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) December 16, 2022
‘Nothing Makes Sense’
Some of the sleuths have thus claimed a local person’s hunting trip photo made that resident a suspect because it showed a fixed-blade knife – even though such blades are standard in the area.
Others have taken to a completely anonymous online forum to post information about various Moscow residents who they claim should be treated as suspects.
Still, others have taken to going through obituaries of UI students who died in recent years and are trying to find a “connection” to the quadruple murder.
A Moscow Police Department spokeswoman, Robbie Johnson, slammed such speculations as “awful” and said she had lots of sympathy for those whose information was shared online and were viewed as suspects by amateur “detectives.”
Meanwhile, the father of Kaylee Goncalves, one of the four killed UI students, told Fox News on Saturday that Moscow police had nothing conclusive and were still searching for clues to identify a suspect.
He said his family would not celebrate Christmas as it remains in a state where nothing about his daughter’s murder “makes sense.”
As the University of Idaho community marks one month since four students were stabbed to death in a rented home near campus, the Moscow Police Department shared a list of people currently ruled out as being involved with the murders.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 13, 2022
#HEX #Hexicans Just watching #FoxNews this morning and the father of one of the poor girls in the Idaho murders was wearing this hat. Sorry for your loss fellow #Hexican. I'm praying you will get justice soon but regardless the killer wont escape God's justice. pic.twitter.com/5dIiwSoTfX
— Vince Tilenni (@LibertyVinceT) December 18, 2022
This article appeared in Mainstpress and has been published here with permission.
“The longer this goes, the colder some of these leads can be.”
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) December 9, 2022