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Former Pullman police chief explains process for investigating University of Idaho murders

Students and families still have a lot of questions about the murders, and some have criticized Moscow police for not sharing more information sooner.

MOSCOW, Idaho — People across the country want to know what happened inside the home where four University of Idaho students were found murdered and why.

For those living in Moscow, there's still a lot of fear and uncertainty, and how could there not be? Four young college students were stabbed to death and their killer still hasn't been caught.

Ever since the yellow crime tape went up, the Moscow Police Department has faced scrutiny for not providing as much information about the case as some would like to know.

"There's some things that only people at that scene would know and so you definitely don't want to release that information to the public because you would really jeopardize that investigation," Former Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said.

Jenkins now serves as police chief for Washington State University (WSU). He says sharing details is a balancing act; keeping people safe and informed without compromising the investigation.

"When detectives go out and interview people, it's based on what they know and not what they've heard on the news," Jenkins said.

The University of Idaho told students they could go home early for Thanksgiving break if they don't feel safe around campus, and many already have. Jenkins says that could pose a challenge for detectives trying to interview witnesses.

It was for him during the hazing death of Sam Martinez, which also occurred right before Thanksgiving break in 2019.

"Most of the witnesses left town and that's the type of investigation you need to have a one-on-one in person interview," Jenkins said. "And so, it definitely does complicate that investigation."

Jenkins says the answers we all want could take time.

"They're trying to juggle a lot of balls in the air right now, particularly with four victims," Jenkins said. "It's going to be complex investigation crime scene, it's going to be a complex investigation."

Earlier this week, the Moscow Police Department told the community there was no active threat because they believe the four victims were targeted and still do based on evidence at the crime scene. However, the department has since told students to remain vigilant.

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