MOSCOW, Idaho – Hours after Moscow, Idaho, police officers removed some of the victims’ personal belongings from the crime scene, law enforcement and forensic experts began to review the decision, some backlash. warned that there is no.
“I’ve been a coroner for a long, long time. It’s important for families to have something to hold on to — they need those things,” said longtime forensic pathologist Joseph Scott Morgan. “But you don’t want to do anything that could hurt the case. Because you never know what will happen months, a year from now, when this person is caught in court.”
On Wednesday, Moscow Police Chief James Fry and other law enforcement officials collected some, but not all, of the victims from the crime scene at 1122 King Road.
More than three weeks ago, on November 13, University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, 20, Hana Kernodle, and Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, 21, were found stabbed to death on the second and third floors of the home.
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The case remains unsolved, and the murder weapon has not been found, police said.
Authorities previously said items removed from the scene were “no longer needed for the investigation” and would be taken to a safe location for the family to gather.
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On Thursday, Morgan, one of the nation’s top forensics investigators, felt police let things go too quickly from the crime scene.
In general, Morgan explained, a criminal who uses a knife to attack or kill someone will leave behind “discard” residue when they commit the act of stabbing.
“As they retreat [the knife]droplets of blood are dispersed in the air,” he explained. .”
But once the object was removed from where it sat during the crime, he said, “you can never go back and put that object back in its original orientation.”
“You lose all context,” Morgan added. “You can’t go back and say, ‘We missed that, we’re going to put it here.'”
A distinguished applied forensic scientist at Jacksonville State University called the decision to remove some of the victims’ belongings “a big deal.” That’s why it’s so important to me as a forensic scientist.”
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Morgan wondered why there was any immediate need to remove the victims’ possessions.
“How does family want to have things come before practical necessity?” he said. “What’s the harm in locking this thing up a little longer to make sure everything is taken care of?”
Former FBI Special Agent Jonathan Gilliam expressed similar concerns about the decision, adding, “Evidentially, the crime scene has changed. And that’s the problem.
“Crime scenes have evidence,” he explained. “And sometimes, in a case like this, you don’t realize it until you find the subject. … Now the crime scene is contaminated because they removed things. And it’s already contaminated because people have been there and maybe removed things. Because they’re in trouble. they didn’t want to face.”
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Gilliam, also a former U.S. Navy SEAL, said the case “doesn’t just involve an investigation, it involves prosecution.”
“When you have … an unsolved crime and you have a crime scene that’s been filled with evidence and altered by other people, I think you want to keep that scene as long as possible.” he said. “Because once you find a topic, it can cause you to go back and look for something else.”
According to Joseph Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, removing items from a crime scene usually signals “the end of the process.”
“If they remove personal items and other items now, they’re done processing the scene,” he said. “They’ve taken what they can get and they’re waiting for test results on a variety of things because there’s no going back at this point.”
Chief Frye spoke to reporters outside the home Wednesday and said he and other staff members took “things the family wanted and anything else that was there.”
“We owe it to the families. We owe it to the victims,” he said. “We owe it to our community.”
Chapin, Goncalves, Kernodle and Mogen were found stabbed to death inside a three-story home at 1122 King Street just before noon on Nov. 13.
The home is located just one block from the University of Idaho campus and near the fraternity houses.
Officials said the victims were asleep when they were attacked between 3 and 4 a.m. Each victim was stabbed multiple times and some showed signs of trying to defend themselves.
Two other roommates were downstairs and survived, police said.
The Moscow Police Department is urging the public to come forward with any pictures or information that may be important or helpful to the investigation. They can do this by calling 208-883-7180, sending tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and sending digital media. Here.
The government also created custom web page In relation to the King Road attack.
Rebecca Rosenberg contributed to this report.