Idaho college student killer: FBI profiler reveals suspect’s likely characteristics

The suspect behind the unsolved murders of four University of Idaho students earlier this month was likely someone who knew the victims or a stalker familiar with their habits, one of the nation’s top criminal profilers suggested on Tuesday.

Nine days had passed on Tuesday since the students were found stabbed to death at their home in Moscow, Idaho. As of Sunday, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies had received at least 646 leads in the week since the Nov. 13 attack, but they are still searching for the person or people behind them.

“He killed four different people that way.

— Former FBI profiler Jim Clemente

Jim Clemente, a retired FBI special agent and criminal behavior analysis expert, told Fox News Digital that he believes the suspect is likely a young man who has never committed such violent crimes before.

“He’s sloppy,” Clemente said when reached by phone on Tuesday. “This is probably more of a compulsive person that would put him at a younger age and maybe in the age range or just above the victims.”

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“I don’t think he’s particularly sophisticated, criminally sophisticated or forensically sophisticated,” he added.

The killer’s decision to commit such a brazen crime was indicative of his relationship to one or more of the victims, Clemente suspected.

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File photo taken on November 16, 2022 shows the home in Moscow, Idaho where four University of Idaho students were murdered on November 13, 2022.

File photo taken on November 16, 2022 shows the home in Moscow, Idaho where four University of Idaho students were murdered on November 13, 2022.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

“Going into an occupied apartment in the middle of the night with six people in … different rooms is an extremely high-risk crime unless you know one or more of the people,” the former New York City prosecutor said. “Well, that’s my first thought on this: This perpetrator didn’t pick this place by accident, he’s targeting one or more of the people there. Well, that could be because he’s in a relationship or a previous relationship with one or more of them, or it could be because he’s been stalking one or more of them.”

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Flowers and a toy bear form a memorial in front of the home at 1122 King Road on November 21, 2022 in Moscow, Idaho.

Flowers and a toy bear form a memorial in front of the home at 1122 King Road on November 21, 2022 in Moscow, Idaho.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Asked later if the killer knew his victims, Clemente explained the perpetrator entered a house in the middle of the night “when everyone who lived there could have had a gun, several people were able to confront and attack him as he entered “.

“Unless he knew them, unless he knew one or more of them,” he continued. “I think that reduces the risk if he did it or if he was chasing them and he knew they were all wasted on the weekends. And they went to bed early, or they went to bed early in the morning, and they didn’t get up until late afternoon because they were all wasted.”

Police have named the four victims of an apparent quadruple murder as University of Idaho students Maddie Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves.

Police have named the four victims of an apparent quadruple murder as University of Idaho students Maddie Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves.
(Instagram: @maddiemogen, @kayleegoncalves, @ethanchapin4)

He added: “So if he knew their routine and knew they were all drunk then that in turn reduces the risk to the offender making this a more plausible crime. So just the fact that he got away with it at that time.”

When asked why he thinks the suspect is a man, Clemente pointed to the defensive injuries some of the victims allegedly had.

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“They fought back. This is someone who was able to kill more people, including a male victim,” Clemente said. He also referenced the use of a knife as a murder weapon, saying such violence “is more indicative of a male perpetrator.”

He said the timing of the attack – in the late night and early morning hours – showed “he has freedom of movement during that time”.

“He’s not in a relationship or job that would stop him” from committing the crimes during this time, Clemente said.

Moscow police received a call just before noon on November 13 with a report of a “person unconscious” at the King Road house. Several other people had gathered at the address when police arrived, officials said.

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The victims were murdered between 3 and 4 a.m. on November 13 on the second and third floors of their home after spending the night outside.

The victims were identified as Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.

Investigators at the scene where four University of Idaho students were found fatally stabbed.

Investigators at the scene where four University of Idaho students were found fatally stabbed.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Two other housemates were in the downstairs home at the time of the murders, but were unharmed.

All of the victims are believed to have been asleep when attacked, although some showed signs of defensive injuries. Each victim was stabbed multiple times and showed no sign of having been sexually abused. They are all believed to have been killed with a single knife.

“HE CHOSE A KNIFE”

Clemente, who later became a writer and producer for shows like Criminal Minds, said it was “important” to note that the killer “chosen a knife.”

“Why did he choose a knife? It is quiet. It didn’t wake up the other occupants of the house,” he said. “That could be because of that.”

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGE IS GRAPHIC

A view taken on Nov. 16, 2022 of the Moscow, Idaho home where four University of Idaho students were murdered shows red stains running down the home's foundation.

A view taken on Nov. 16, 2022 of the Moscow, Idaho home where four University of Idaho students were murdered shows red stains running down the home’s foundation.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

But Clemente said it could also be that the perpetrator “is known to carry a knife” and “might even show it to his friends.”

“The fact that he used a knife,” Clemente said. “It’s graphic but we call it, he doesn’t mind doing wet work – he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He will not turn pale at the sign of blood.”

A state police forensic officer searches for leads November 21, 2022 in Moscow, Idaho.  Four University of Idaho students were killed in this home on November 13, 2022.

A state police forensic officer searches for leads November 21, 2022 in Moscow, Idaho. Four University of Idaho students were killed in this home on November 13, 2022.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

He said he believed this could mean the suspect was a hunter, a butcher or otherwise engaged in a similar field.

“He killed four different people that way. He didn’t just turn pale and run after the first one,” Clemente said.

INVESTIGATION OF HIS BEHAVIOR

A view of the home in Moscow, Idaho, on November 22, 2022 where four students were killed.

A view of the home in Moscow, Idaho, on November 22, 2022 where four students were killed.
(Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

Examining the killer’s behavior before and after the crimes — his behavior before and after the crime — can be useful to the community and investigators working to solve the crime, Clemente said.

Conduct prior to the offense includes factors such as the killer “might have been proud of his knife and carried it around and showed it to people”. Also that he had “some sort of contact” with, or was fixated on, one or more of the people in the house.

Police have named the four victims of an apparent quadruple homicide as University of Idaho Madison students Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves.

Police have named the four victims of an apparent quadruple homicide as University of Idaho Madison students Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves.
(Moscow City Police Service/Instagram)

As for his behavior after the crime, the suspect would likely have fled the area and “won’t come back until it calms down,” Clemente said. At a time when so many people are leaving the city on vacation, such an absence might not be noticeable.

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“But he may be a local and he may not have shown up for work or was later late,” Clemente added. “And he probably has a very keen interest in following the news of this crime.”

Moscow Police Department Officials are urging the public to share “all outdoor surveillance video taken from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, November 13, 2022 of businesses and residences in” a designated area.

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A manhunt continues for the person(s) involved in the attack. Police are asking anyone with information or footage related to the killings to contact us at 208-883-7180 ​​or [email protected]

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