Law enforcement experts tell that the investigation into the deaths of four students at the University of Idaho is at a crucial stage as police begin to receive forensic testing findings from the crime site.
Despite the best efforts of dozens of local, state, and federal investigators, the murder weapon used in the attack last month in Moscow has not been located. Police have come under fire from the public and the victims’ families for their lack of transparency and the muddled narrative they have presented.
It was reported to police on November 13 that Ethan Chapin, 20, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Madison Mogen, 21, were stabbed on the second and third floors of their off-campus home.
Miller says the town of 26,000 people, which had not had a murder before 2015, has been turned upside down by the quadruple killing and that the police department is struggling because it has the knowledge that comes from investigating many crimes, much less under the scrutiny of the nation.
Collaboration between various organizations
More than 40 FBI agents from across the country have been deployed to assist the Moscow Police Department with their investigation. The Idaho State Police and the Latah County Sheriff’s Office are also contributing to the probe.
According to Miller, “they have coordinated this into over 100 personnel acting as one team” in the homicide probe. Miller claims that the FBI has three significant responsibilities in the Idaho case. The first is its behavioral science department, which is extremely helpful in cases where the perpetrator’s identity is unknown.
The second is its cutting-edge innovation, such as the Combined DNA Indexing System, which facilitates collaboration between police and forensics labs and facilitates the rapid and accurate identification of suspects.
Lastly, the FBI has 56 field offices in key cities across the country, increasing their reach and investigative prowess. Miller remarked that “the FBI offers a lot to this,” including expertise and resources “beyond what a small town generally has.”
Officers only get “one shot” at a crime scene.
Law enforcement professionals agree that detectives have just one opportunity to collect forensic evidence at the site of a homicide, such as victim toxicology reports, hair, fibers, blood, and DNA. It all comes down to “that one opportunity with the crime scene,” Miller added.
Moscow police stated Thursday that they had collected much evidence throughout the investigation. This includes 113 pieces of physical evidence, almost 4,000 images of the crime scene, and multiple 3D scans of the home. To “preserve the integrity of the inquiry,” police have stated that they will not release any particular findings.
What we know about victims’ and suspects’
Examining the suspect’s and the victim’s actions after the murder is the next step in the investigation. Miller claims that two agents from the FBI’s Behavior Analysis Unit were assigned to the study to examine the murder scene and the evidence to gain insight into the suspect’s or suspects’ behavior.
As he put it, “understanding the victimology in a mystery may be significant because it can take you to motivation, can lead you to adversaries, and can bring you to allies.”
Miller explains that investigators use public information, information from the scientific community, and national data on violent crimes to develop potential leads.
Police say they are reviewing tips, images, and videos sent to the FBI via an online form, including more than 260 pieces of digital material people contributed on the night the students died. Over a thousand tips have been reviewed, and authorities have conducted at least 150 interviews.