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Idaho murders: Captain recalls finding weeping friends, family at 'somber' crime scene


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A Moscow police captain provided a firsthand account Tuesday of arriving at the scene of the quadruple homicide and finding a "somber" crowd of weeping friends and family outside the rental house near the University of Idaho campus.

"It was hard – I got called at home. It was on a Sunday afternoon," Moscow Police Department Operations Captain Roger Lanier said in a video update released Dec. 13 – the one-month anniversary of the Idaho slayings. "It took me a second. I really had to think about what I just heard – four murders in Moscow, Idaho, is so out of character."

He made his way to the scene Nov. 13, where students Kaylee Goncalves, 21, her best friend Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, were found stabbed to death on the second and third floors of 1122 King Road.

The scene was calm but "very, very somber" as a throng of students gathered around the house, he said. 

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"They were standing outside, there was a lot of crying, there were friends trying to find out who exactly was inside the house, some family members that arrived on scene. It was incredibly hard for the community," the captain recalled.

Four rookie officers were in tow, and it was the first major crime scene they had ever encountered, Lanier said. "Emotionally it was a very, very draining day," he said.

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The captain called the firestorm of rumors and speculation on social media the most frustrating part of their investigation.

"We find ourselves not only tracking those rumors down and trying to quell them, we see our tips that come in are geared more toward the rumor and not the facts that have been put out," he said. 

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This has impacted the victims' families, he added, "some of whom have had death threats." 

"It's been devastating in some ways, in many ways it just revictimizes folks who have already suffered this terrible trauma," Lanier said.

Police continue to sift through "a good amount of viable tips" they receive every day, he noted. 

"This investigation is not cold," he added. "Eventually we're going to narrow in on exactly what happened and who did it."

The Moscow Police Department is asking that the public call in tips at 208-883-7180, email tipline@ci.moscow.id.us or submit digital media here.

Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.

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