The retired Moscow police captain who spent 20 years investigating every local homicide in the Idaho city says it’s likely the perpetrator responsible for the murder of four college students last month knew at least one of the victims and may have been seeking vengeance.
‘When you use the word “targeted,” it means somewhere along the line we met,’ former Moscow Police Captain Paul Kwaitkowski, 64, told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
‘Somewhere along the line, something bad happened, something that pi***d someone off enough to go after these people.’
Kwaitkowski spoke amid mounting pressure for authorities to make a breakthrough in the quadruple murder investigation – which is yet to zero in on a suspect or locate a murder weapon nearly a month after Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin were knifed to death in their off-campus home.
The former Moscow Police Captain said it is possible the murderer may have targeted one victim and the others became ‘collateral damage.’ Pictured: Victims Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Maddie Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, with their two surviving roommates
Members of the Moscow Police Department and Idaho State Police were seen last week collecting and removing the personal effects and property from the scene of the quadruple murder in the off campus residence of University of Idaho
Kaylee’s father Steven Goncalves has publicly aired his frustrations over the bungled police investigation into the gruesome murder of his daughter, who was last week revealed to have suffered ‘significantly more brutal’ injuries than her three friends.
And on Monday, the bereaved dad shared new details of those injuries, revealing Kaylee had sustained ‘big open gouges’ and that the knife slashed open her liver and lungs, Fox News reported.
Goncalves said his daughter’s wounds ‘definitely did not match’ those of Mogen, who was found in the same bed as Kaylee, after asking coroner Cathy Mabbutt how many times the victims were stabbed.
Retired Moscow Police Captain Paul Kwaitkowski, 64, said it is likely the Idaho murderer knew at least one victim and may have been motivated by revenge
‘She says, “sir, I don’t think stabs is the right word, it was like tears, like this was a strong weapon, not like a stab”,’ he told the news outlet.
‘She said these were big open gouges. She said it was quick. These weren’t something where you were going to be able to call 911. They were not going to slowly bleed out.’
Based on the victims’ wounds, Goncalves said, the coroner’s office suspects the killer was likely a ‘strong individual’ however investigators have not determined the person’s gender.
He, however, believes it is most likely the work of a ‘sadistic male.’
‘It was a hell of a battle going on down there from what the coroner told us,’ he added.
‘I got outraged by them not just coming out and saying this was a woman or a man because they should know by the amount of strength it took to deliver the injuries.
‘They’re just being cowards. There are girls walking around the street right now that deserve to know. They should be looking out for a sadistic male,’ Goncalves said.
Like his former colleagues, Kwaitkowski says he does not know who was the intended target and suspects all four victims could have been the focus of the attack.
Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves (right) who were best friends since sixth grade, died in the same bed, according to Kaylee’s father Steve
Kaylee’s father Steven Goncalves shared new details about the violent injuries his daughter sustained, revealing Kaylee had suffered ‘big open gouges’ and her wounds did not ‘match’ those of her friends
‘I don’t know who the target was,’ he said. ‘Maybe there was only one target, and the other three were collateral damage.
‘Why they were targeted, nobody knows yet – that involves deciphering all the digital data that they’re going to have to go through.
‘You have 20 people looking at tens of thousands of pieces of information. That will lead them to something. But it’s going to take time,’ he added.
More than three weeks after the grisly killings in an off-campus student house, police still have no suspects and no murder weapon.
The victims are believed to have been killed in their sleep in the early hours of November 13 after returning home following a night out on campus.
Roommates Kaylee Goncalves and Maddie Mogen, 21, had spent the evening visiting a sports bar and food truck, while Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, 20, had visited his fraternity house just a short walk away from her off-campus rental house where they were killed.
In the weeks following the grisly murders that have garnered national attention, Kaylee’s father Steven Goncalves has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the investigation, which he said has ‘messed up a million times’ in a recent interview with Fox News.
Kwaitkowski, who retired in 2018, defended his former colleagues, a small-city force of just 35 officers, many young cops with limited experience.
He noted that the department consists mostly of young officers, many of whom leave Moscow early in their careers to pursue more action in bigger cities.
However, Kwaitkowski said they’re all highly trained and led by seasoned officers working in sync with state police and the FBI.
‘People are upset, people want to see things, people want to know things,’ he said.
The Moscow Police Department – and its chief James Fry – have seemingly failed to make any notable progress in the case, leaving them prime for widespread criticism nearly a month into in the highly publicized case, which has captivated arm-chair sleuths across the country
Kaylee and Madison were found on the top floor of the Moscow, Idaho home. Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were found in a second-floor bedroom while survivors Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke were sleeping on the first floor
Moscow Police Department, who have yet to make much headway in the investigation, have said they will now crack down on internet sleuths speculating as to who killed the four students (pictured)
‘If it was my daughter, yeah, I’d want to know right now. But this is a tough case. The Moscow police are doing their best work right now.
‘I think the police department holds back what they have, even what they know,’ he said.
‘Keeping it close to their chest is the most important thing they can do right now.’
Kwaitkowski admitted he doesn’t know what evidence the department has gathered, but he has resisted pumping his former colleagues for information on the investigation.
‘They’re playing it really, really tight,’ he said. ‘Bill Thompson is our county prosecutor. I’ve worked every case with Bill Thompson. He is one of the smartest men I know.
‘When Bill says ‘keep it tight,’ there’s something going on. And they’re not going to tease the public with, oh, this is what I’ve got.’
He watched with interest when the chief earlier this week released information on a mystery white Hyundai Elantra that was spotted in the ‘immediate area’ the morning the students were found dead.
Police believe the occupants of the vehicle ‘may have critical information’ regarding the case.
Kwaitkowski said the chief wouldn’t have put that out if it wasn’t a potentially significant lead, given the work it will require to follow up on the flood of white car sightings that will inevitably result.
Customs and Border Protection made the announcement Friday, telling agents to be wary of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra with unknown plates, sharing these stock images. They were asked for help by cops in Moscow, the sleepy border town where the murders transpired
The car was see ‘in the vicinity’ of King Street in the early morning hours of November 13, while the killings were carried out shortly before, sometime between 2 and 3 am, cops have said
‘You’ve got a college town with 10,000 college kids that all drive high-end vehicles, and you’re looking at an Elantra that is a really common car, is white,’ he said.
‘I don’t know why they released that. That’s the information they’re holding tight for some reason.’
Kwaitkowski joined the department in 1996, and rose through the ranks with the current chief, James Fry, a friend.
For a city of just 25,000 people, the department has taken on its share of mass murders, including in 2007 when Jason K. Hamilton, a custodian for a maintenance company, killed his wife, a police officer, a church sexton and then himself.
The last homicide was in 2015 when John Lee shot and killed his adoptive mother, landlord, an Arby’s manager, and a Seattle man.
‘That was last one I involved with,’ he said. ‘John Lee was a friend of mine. I knew him, I knew his parents, and then once that happened, we realized who the suspect was.
‘With the (nearby) Whitman County Sheriff’s office we were able to stop him when he was running. He was captured later the same day and brought back.’
‘We see everything everyone else in the world sees,’ he said. ‘We have the same crime, we have murder, we have rapes, we have breaking and entering, we have all that crap. We don’t see it as much as Seattle sees it.’
A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found dead is displayed on a table along with buttons and bracelets on November 30
Among the items removed from the home were victim Madison Mogen’s favorite pink cowboy boots, which had sat undisturbed in a window since the November 13 murders
Now retired, he maintains friendships with current officers, but now just offers emotional support.
‘As a retired officer, I talk to them to see how they’re doing,’ Kwaitkowski said. ‘My concern is I know what this does to a human being, I know what this does to the investigators. I know how it feels because your mind is always on it.
He continued: ‘They’re not going to quit. They’re like a dog chasing a mole.
‘My biggest concern in the investigation is my friends who are busting their a**, getting home at 10 o’clock at night, and trying to get some sleep, trying to be a father, husband.
‘The cases I worked, they were endless. It just wears you down.’