Police investigating the fatal stabbings of four University of Idaho students are denying a professor's involvement in the unsolved case after a self-described internet sleuth and Tarot card reader posted accusations on TikTok claiming a connection.
"At this time in the investigation, detectives do not believe the female associate professor and chair of the history department at the University of Idaho suing a TikTok user for defamation is involved in this crime," police in Moscow, Idaho, said Tuesday.
The police statement in defense of the professor, Rebecca Scofield, is only the latest attempt by investigators to tamp down baseless allegations and distractions that have sprung up in the absence of an arrest following the discovery of the slayings Nov. 13.
In an attempt to clear her name, Scofield filed a federal lawsuit last week against Ashley Guillard, the Texas woman who posted accusations on TikTok that the professor planned the killings with another University of Idaho student.
Guillard's TikTok account — headlined "Ashley Solves Mysteries" — has more than 110,000 followers and includes dozens of videos about her thoughts on the case and names Scofield, as well as a former boyfriend of one of the victims.
In response to Moscow police comments that Scofield has no link to the homicides, Guillard said she remains committed to speaking about what she believes happened.
The police statement "makes it clear to me that I am needed to help solve this case," Guillard said in an email. "The lawsuit is essential because it gives me a legal basis to subpoena empirical evidence."
The videos began appearing on TikTok on Nov. 24 and have been viewed millions of times, according to Scofield's suit, which says Guillard claims to solve high-profile murders using Tarot cards and by "performing other readings."
Scofield began working at the university in 2016 and never met the slain students nor had any of them ever taken a class with her, according to the suit. She says she was with her husband in Portland, Oregon, visiting friends when the students were killed.
After a lawyer for Scofield sent a cease-and-desist letter to Guillard on Nov. 29, she kept posting what the suit calls defamatory videos. After sending a second such letter Dec. 8, Guillard showed the document in a TikTok video and said Scofield would need to "file actual legal documents in a federal court" asking her to remove them, the suit says.
The Moscow Police Department said in a news release Tuesday that it would not comment on the litigation.
More in-depth coverage of the Idaho student slayings
- Scene of slayings was 'somber'as police grappled with the public response
- Investigators untangling the Idaho student slayings face a 'daunting task': the DNA
- 'Four beautiful kids': Community remembers slain University of Idaho students at vigil
- How internet sleuthing in unsolved University of Idaho slayings can be 'extremely dangerous'
Guillard doubled down on her claims in a video posted Sunday on TikTok, telling followers that she has physical evidence validating "everything I've said about her, but I can't speak on it now because it has to wait for court."
An attorney for Scofield said in a statement that Guillard’s accusations have created "safety issues" for her client, who has had to install a security system at her home.
"They also further compound the trauma that the families of the victims are experiencing and undermine law enforcement efforts to find the people responsible in order to provide answers to the families and the public," the statement said.
Authorities haven't identified any suspects in the killings of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, who were found in an off-campus home the three young women shared. The weapon, which police believe to be a large knife, has also not been located.