On Monday, the bodies of four University of Idaho students were found near campus. A local official said the deaths were caused by a “crime of passion.”
In an interview, Art Bettge, the mayor of Moscow, Idaho, said that the police were still looking into what happened, but that the case was being handled as a murder. He said that the police didn’t think there was a “perceivable danger to the larger public,” but he wouldn’t say how the victims died or if a suspect was still out there.
“It’s hard to figure out a crime of this size,” Mr. Bettge said, adding that it would take time for the police to figure out what had happened. “From what I can tell, it was a crime of passion,” he said.
The police said they went to a house near the University of Idaho campus on Sunday after getting a call about a “unconscious person.” When they got there, they found three women and one man dead. On Monday, the victims were named as Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash., Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Ariz., and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.
The Latah County coroner, Cathy Mabbutt, said that all four deaths were being treated as murders and that there was no evidence of a murder-suicide. Ms. Mabbutt said that autopsies would be done by her office on Wednesday. She said that she couldn’t say anything about how the victims were killed without permission from the police.
All of the people who died were students at the University of Idaho, which confirmed this and canceled classes on Monday.
In a message to students and employees, Scott Green, the president of the university, said, “Words cannot adequately describe the light these students brought to this world or ease the deep pain we feel at their tragic deaths.”
On the same day as the deaths, there was a shooting at the University of Virginia that killed three football players and hurt two others. Before the police said that a 22-year-old student had been arrested and charged, the campus was locked down for 12 hours.
Moscow is a college town of about 25,000 people. It is in the rolling wheat fields across the border from Pullman, Wash., where the much bigger Washington State University is. The main campus of the University of Idaho has more than 10,000 students and focuses a lot on engineering and agriculture. Since 2015, there hasn’t been a murder in the city.
The killings happened in a house in a neighborhood, right below a water tower with the university’s logo on it. On Monday, a gray house with several cars parked in front was surrounded by police tape. Some of the students who lived in the area said they were leaving town because they were afraid of what had happened.
Paige Carter, a senior majoring in public relations who lives nearby in a house, said that she and her roommate were going to the airport. A few of her neighbors had already moved away.
“We’re just afraid of what’s going on,” she said. “We don’t really know much about it. So we’re not sure what to think.”
Bailey Briggs, a senior majoring in environmental science who lives in a nearby building, said she first heard about the case through the university’s alert system. Since then, she hasn’t heard much more about it.
She said that many people are worried, even though the police have said there is no immediate threat. She said, “They say it’s a murder, and they’re 100 percent sure it’s a murder.” “But there’s no danger. What does that mean?”
Jazzmin Kernodle, Ms. Kernodle’s older sister, said that she and her family were “confused and anxiously waiting” for updates on the investigation in a text message on Monday night.
“The police haven’t told us much except that it was a murder,” she said. “Tomorrow, we hope for more.”