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Four University of Idaho students found dead in suspected homicide

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Four American university students have been found dead in suspected homicides.

The Moscow Police Department, in the US state of Idaho, identified the four students as Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.

The four appeared to be friends based off social media accounts, the New York Post reports.

Chapin and Kernodle appeared to be in a relationship with one Instagram caption from Kernodle reading, “Life is so much better with you in it, love you!” to celebrate Chapin’s birthday.

Mogen and Goncalves were from Coeur d’Alene and Rathdrum, respectively in Idaho, police said. Chapin was from Washington state.

Kernodle was from Arizona, according to police, though school officials said she was from Post Falls in Idaho.

Goncalves’ family remembered her as “our defender and protector,” according to KREM2.

“She is tough and fair. The ultimate middle child,” her sister Alivea told the television station on behalf of the family.

“She did absolutely everything she set her mind to. She didn’t hold back on love, fights or life. Kaylee was the ultimate go getter and constantly wanted an adventure.”

The causes of death connected to the homicide probe were not yet released as details surrounding the case remain sparse.

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“Currently, there is no one in custody,” the police department said in a press release.

“The Moscow Police does not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation.”

Moscow Mayor Art Bettge told the New York Times on Monday there was no danger to the broader public, but did not say how the victims were killed or if a suspect was at large.

“With a crime of this magnitude, it’s very difficult to work through,” Bettge said, noting cops need time to figure out what happened, according to the Times.

Bettge also reportedly said, “The overall assessment is that it’s a crime of passion.”

Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told the newspaper autopsies would be conducted Wednesday, but ruled out that this was a murder-suicide.

She said she could not reveal more without permission from police.

Authorities were asking anyone with information to contact them.

The school released more information about the four victims, noting Chapin was a freshman and member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and Kernodle was a junior majoring in marketing and part of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.

Mogen was a senior also majoring in marketing and Goncalves was a senior majoring in general studies, the university said.

The tragic discovery Sunday originally led the university to order students to shelter in place until police ensured there was no ongoing threat to the community.

The city of Moscow has a population of more than 25,000 in north-central Idaho and is about 80 miles (128km) from Spokane, Washington.

University of Idaho President Scott Green cancelled classes on Monday out of respect for the four students whose lives were cut short.

“It is with deep sadness that I share with you that the university was notified today of the death of four University of Idaho students living off-campus believed to be victims of homicide,” Green said in a statement Sunday night.

The university said counsellors would be available for students at the campus counselling centre, while employees can get help through an employee assistance program.

“An event of this magnitude can understandably have significant impacts on those left behind,” Green wrote.

“As Vandals, we must come together and lift each other up.

Sympathy came in throughout the state including from Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson.

“Kathy and I send our deepest condolences to the families of these four students — our hearts ache for your loss. Today we are all Vandals,” he said.

The announced deaths come just hours apart from a shooting at the University of Virginia where three people were killed.

The alleged gunman in that case was arrested Monday after a 12-hour manhunt.

With Post wires

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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