'You see things humans probably shouldn't': Killings of 4 UI students leave mental scars for officers

‘You see things humans probably shouldn’t’: Killings of 4 UI students leave mental scars for officers

MOSCOW, Idaho — As family, friends and the Moscow community continue to grapple with the devastating murder last week of four University of Idaho students, law enforcement is not spared.

“It’s a pretty horrific scene, and you’re talking about the lives of four young people, and you’re directly involved in this,” said Aaron Snell, director of communications at the Idaho State Police.

Snell said Moscow police and others charged with the case were stressed working long hours to uncover possible clues, including new details released Saturday night of the 911 call that led to the finding bodies. They take those horrific thoughts and images from the crime scene with them.

“You see things that humans probably shouldn’t see,” Snell said.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry said he was more concerned than usual for the mental health of his officers and detectives working on the case, which left 20-year-old Ethan Chapin; Xana Kernodle, 20; Kaylee Gonçalves, 21; and Madison Mogen, 21, who died in what Fry called a “targeted and isolated” attack a week ago at an off-campus home.

There are no suspects. Fry is holding a press conference at 3 p.m. Sunday to provide an update on the investigation.

He said Moscow police granted an officer leave last week to reconnect and clear his head. Fry said officers and detectives work from 2 to 6 p.m., which is normal at the start of a homicide investigation.

“You’re going to be working long hours for a while until you get that break,” he said.

Fry said resources were available for his staff, including the Palouse Area Peer Support Team, which officers used this week due to the investigation’s toll.

Moscow Police Capt. Anthony Dahlinger said the team includes Moscow Police, the Pullman Police Department and the Washington State University Police Department. Some employees in each department have received mental health and wellness training so that they can help tri-agency officers overcome any mental barriers they encounter. The peer support team can refer officers for further treatment by a mental health professional if needed, he said.

Dahlinger said the departments received a federal grant more than a year ago to expand the program, which he said is gaining momentum across the country.

“It’s not only gained popularity, but they find it works,” Dahlinger said.

Dahlinger said officers are often reluctant to seek counseling or therapy and are more likely to tell a peer about something that’s bothering them.

He said larger agencies have the financial resources to create a team within their department, but all three Palouse departments have partnered to provide mental health services. An officer in Moscow, for example, can choose to seek help from someone with mental health training in one of three departments.

Fry said police didn’t talk about mental health issues when he started with Moscow police in 1995, but now they are more aware of how the job affects them.

Fry has served as chief since 2016. He has been involved in about half a dozen homicide cases during his 27 years with the department. Fry said he believed last weekend’s homicides were the most in a single setting in college town’s history.

Fry said the student murders were the most high-profile of the homicide investigations he worked on, but “they’re all bad.” The last murder in Moscow dates back to 2015, when John Lee shot and killed three people and injured another. Lee was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“You don’t rank them… They’re also bad because someone lost their life,” he said.

Dahlinger said you never know how each crime scene will affect an officer.

“It’s tough as they all are, so we have our eyes on everyone, making sure we give everyone the opportunity to take care of themselves and each other and each other. give them the resources they need,” he said. said.

New details on 911 call, driver released

The 911 call that led officers to the house where they found the four dead students came from a cellphone of one of the students who lived at the King Road residence, police said.

In a Facebook post on Saturday evening, Moscow police did not say where the students’ call came from and who made the call on Nov. 13. The call came from inside the residence.

Two other women who lived in the house were inside when the attack happened, police said. The women, who are not considered suspects, were not injured and are cooperating with the investigation, Fry said.

“Roommates are always, I think, important components, but everyone in this case is important right now,” Fry said of the investigation.

The Facebook post said detectives believed the two women had been out in Moscow, separately, but returned home at 1 a.m. The couple did not wake up until an unspecified time later that day.

The call came shortly before noon, but Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt said the students died in the early morning hours of November 13. The caller “requested help for an unconscious person”, but police found four people dead on arrival.

Goncalves and Mogen were at a bar in downtown Moscow on the night of November 12, then drove to a downtown food truck before returning home via a private vehicle at 1:45 a.m. on November 13. be a suspect.

Chapin and Kernodle attended a party at Chapin’s fraternity, Sigma Chi, late November 12 before heading to the King Road residence at 1:45 a.m. the following day.

Mabbutt said the students were found dead in their beds and were likely sleeping when they were attacked. She said the students were stabbed multiple times based on autopsies performed by the Spokane County Medical Examiner. Mabbutt told CNN there were defensive wounds on the hands of at least one student.

Fry said Saturday that police did not find the weapon used.

Mabbutt said there was no indication the students had been sexually assaulted.

Detectives “are also aware of several phone calls” from Mogen and Goncalves to a man before they were killed, police said, and are investigating it.

Detectives are looking for surveillance video taken from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Nov. 13 at businesses and residences in the area bounded by these roads: Taylor Avenue to the north, Palouse River Drive to the south, US Highway 95 to the east and the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden to the west. Tips, photos and videos can be submitted to tipline@ci.moscow.id.us, or call the tipline at (208) 883-7180 ​​for assistance.

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