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University of Idaho demolishes house where 4 students were slain

Two of the victims' families had asked the university to stop the demolition until after the trial.
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The house where four University of Idaho students were fatally stabbed last year was demolished Thursday.

The University of Idaho went ahead with its plans to tear down the house despite pleas from families of two of the victims to wait until after the trial.

A University spokesperson said Thursday that the demolition was finished and the debris was cleared. Crews will return to the site in the New Year to "grade it and prepare to plant it to grass," the spokesperson said, adding that "no other plans are currently in the works for the site."

NBC affiliate KTVB of Boise and The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that the demolition had begun.

Piercing sounds of construction equipment rang out early in the morning, as an excavator started tearing down the front part of the house, and debris from the home’s walls were loaded into a dump truck, the AP reported.

Heavy equipment is used to demolish the house where four University of Idaho students were killed.
The house in Moscow, Idaho, where four University of Idaho students were killed last year is demolished Thursday.Ted S. Warren / AP

The university, which is located in the western Idaho town of Moscow, announced plans to destroy the three-story home in February as a "healing step." The owner of the house offered it to the school after the students Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves were stabbed to death there in November 2022.

But the Goncalves and the Kernodle families said the demolition should be postponed until after the trial, saying in a joint statement there are still evidentiary questions about the house that have not yet been answered. The trial date has not been set.

A private security officer sits in a vehicle Jan. 3, 2023, in front of the house in Moscow, Idaho where four University of Idaho students were killed in November. Image:
A private security officer sits in a vehicle Jan. 3 in front of the house in Moscow, Idaho, where four University of Idaho students were killed in November 2022.Ted S. Warren / AP file

"We all along have just wanted the King [Road] home to not be demolished until after the trial and for us to have a trial date so that we can look forward to justice being served. Is that really too much to ask?" the Goncalves and the Kernodle families said in the statement.

The families included a list of questions they said have not been answered by current evidence collection, including what could the other roommates hear from inside the house, what windows could the suspect see in from where he was parked outside, and how could the suspect get in and out without anyone seeing him?

The families also said the lead-up to the trial has been plagued with delays, and called for a trial date to be scheduled. “This case has to move forward!” their statement said.

A university spokesperson said that the time had come to demolish the house.

"We certainly appreciate that there is a lot of emotion around demolishing the house, and nowhere is that felt more than with the families," the spokesperson said. "But we feel certain that now is the right time to move forward with the healing that comes with the demolition."

In an email shared by the spokesperson, Latah County Prosecuting Attorney William Thompson said prosecuting attorneys and lead investigators anticipate no further use of the house because they have already collected measurements to create illustrative exhibits for the jury.

“Based on our review of Idaho case law, the current condition of the premises is so substantially different than at the time of the homicides that a “jury view” would not be authorized,” he said in the email.

Defense lawyers for the suspect, Bryan Kohberger, who was arrested Dec. 30, 2022, and charged with four counts of first degree murder, also accessed the home to collect evidence.

The FBI gathered data from the house in late October, which will allow them to create visual aids that can be used in the trial, the university said in a press release.

University President Scott Green said in a statement earlier this month that the house serves as a “grim reminder” of the murders that happened there.

The university initially said the demolition would take at least two days.