How Idaho Police Ruled Out Roommates as Suspects in Gruesome Murders

As police continue to investigate the gruesome murders of four University of Idaho students, the victim's roommates have been ruled out as suspects.

"At this time in the investigation, detectives do not believe any individual at the residence, when 911 was called, is involved in this crime," the Moscow Police Department said in a press release.

The announcement by police comes shortly after it was revealed that four students were fatally stabbed by an unknown individual at their residence near the University of Idaho. Police have identified the four victims as Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves. "Detectives believe that on November 12th, the two surviving roommates had also been out in the Moscow community, separately, but returned home by 1 a.m. on November 13th. The two did not wake up until later that morning," the press release said.

According to police, no suspects have been identified at this time and no weapon has been found at the residence or in surrounding areas.

Crime Scene
Crime scene tape surrounds the Eugene Simpson Field, the site where a gunman opened fire June 15, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia. On Sunday, November 20, 2022, police in Moscow, Idaho announced that the roommates of four students murdered were not considered suspects in the investigation. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While speaking with Newsweek on Tuesday, Michael Marciano, a research associate professor of forensic science at Syracuse University, explained that police could have ruled out the roommates as suspects in a number of different ways, including interviews and possible DNA samples.

"In all likelihood, and this is just based on my experience, the police agency excluded the other house mates through questioning and alibis, probably," Marciano, who is the research director at the Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute in Syracuse University, told Newsweek. "It's possible that DNA was used to help exclude the roommates."

Marciano also told Newsweek that it is likely the surviving roommates will be asked for DNA samples "even if they're not suspects, because a lot of times forensic DNA evidence will be in the form of a DNA mixture."

"If you have individuals that lived in that house, then they have come into contact with things that are being collected, then they can be essentially removed or subtracted from that DNA mixture to show the unknown individuals," Marciano said.

Joseph Scott Morgan, a distinguished professor of applied forensics at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, made similar remarks about using DNA testing to exclude the roommates as suspects. Morgan told Newsweek that "it's really not a heavy lift" for investigators to obtain a DNA swab from the surviving roommates.

"That way, you don't run the risk of losing that because you get one shot at it as the investigator, so if you have the technology at your disposal, you go ahead and do it," Morgan said.

Police continue to search for a possible suspect and officials are expected to provide an update on the investigation on Wednesday afternoon.

Newsweek reached out to the Moscow Police Department for updated information.