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No clear answers in deaths of 4 Idaho students found dead near campus, mayor says

The mayor of a small Idaho town where four college students were found dead said the “senseless” killings could be blamed on “most any scenario.”

Moscow Mayor Art Bettge said that a property crime “gone wrong” or a “crime of passion” were possible explanations in the deaths of University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.

The students were discovered dead Sunday just before noon at an off-campus residence when officers responded to a report of an unconscious person, the city has said. 

The city in a statement described them as homicide victims but did not provide additional details, and there was no suspect in custody.

A police department spokesman did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Bettge said that without a suspect or knowing if anything was missing from the home, a motive remained elusive.

“Patience is needed to allow an investigation to proceed in meticulous fashion,” he said.

In a separate statement Monday, Bettge called the students’ killings a “tragedy” that “serves as a sobering reminder that senseless acts of violence can occur anywhere, at any time, and we are not immune from such events here in our own community.”

“Today, we grieve for those who were lost and those they leave behind,” he said.

Moscow, a rural city of roughly 25,000 people just east of the Washington State line, “is, excepting recent events, quiet and crime-free,” Bettge said.

In a memo to students Monday, University of Idaho President Scott Green said he and his wife were “heartbroken” over the deaths.

Chapin, of Mount Vernon, Washington, was a freshman and member of the Sigma Chi fraternity majoring in recreation, sport and tourism management, the memo said.

Kernodle, of Post Falls, Idaho, was a junior and member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority majoring in marketing.

Mogen, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was also a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and a senior majoring in marketing.

And Goncalves, of Rathdrum, Idaho, was a senior and member of the Alpha Phi sorority majoring in general studies.

The relationships between some of the students wasn’t clear. In an Instagram post Saturday, Goncalves included an image with her and several friends, including Madison Mogen, and said: “One lucky girl to be surrounded by these ppl everyday.”

In an Oct. 29 Instagram post, Kernodle wished Chapin a happy birthday and said that life was “so much better with you in it.”

Erik Ortiz, Dennis Romero, Maya Broadwater and Dania Kalaji contributed.

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