Idaho college student murders: ‘It’s left in the dark,’ Kaylee Goncalves’ mother says of the police investigation


The mother of one of the four college students killed near the University of Idaho last month has expressed frustration at police releases on the status of the investigation into the murders.

“It’s sleepless nights. It feels queasy in the stomach. It’s just left in the dark,” said Kristi Goncalves, the mother of 21-year-old victim Kaylee Goncalves, in an interview aired Thursday on NBC’s TODAY.

Goncalves opened up about the day she found out something had happened to her daughter.

“We run around for hours not knowing what was going on, what happened,” she explained. “…We found out from people who called us. And the sheriff showed up about three hours later.”

Shanon Gray, a lawyer for Goncalves, met with the Moscow Police Department earlier this week and said investigators had done a poor job of communicating with the families.

“Families should never learn information from a press release or an interview,” Gray told CNN. “You should find this information in advance.”

Goncalves described that she learned of police interest in a white Hyundai sedan seen in the area around the time of the murders, not from investigators, but from a press release sent to her by someone else.

“My first thought was just starting to be: How long have you had this information? Where do you get this information from? Was it on a camera?” said Goncalves.

The Moscow Police Department denied the characterization of Goncalves, telling CNN they emailed their lawyer the same day they made their request to the general public for information about the white sedan. Authorities are sorting tens of thousands of registered vehicles that match the criteria of a vehicle sighted near the residence on the night of the attacks, the Moscow Police Department said in a press release on Thursday.

“So far we have a list of approximately 22,000 registered white Hyundai Elantras that fit our criteria, which we’re going through,” chief James Fry said in a video update. “We are confident that the occupant or occupants of this vehicle have information that is critical to this investigation.”

Goncalves said her family learned graphic details of her daughter’s autopsy when a woman from the coroner’s office called and asked her 17-year-old daughter if she wanted to know the results.

“She asked are you sure you want to know? And my daughter, thinking she did it for some reason, said yes. And she went on to tell her.”

Goncalves told NBC she was frustrated by the interviews Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt gave.

“Every time we turn around there’s another one, a new one — I don’t know if they’re new or old — I just bump into them and just think, oh my god, how many of these has she made?” said Goncalves.

The Latah County Coroner’s Office was not immediately available for comment.

The murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21-year-old Madison Mogen, 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, and Kernodle’s boyfriend, 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, in the early hours of November 13 rocked the small college town of Moscow, Idaho, which has not had a recorded murder.

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