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Idaho university murders: What we know, what investigators should look for, and how the public can help

While the “eyes of the public” are being hailed as one of the key tools in investigators’ attempts to crack the unsolved case behind last week’s gruesome stabbings of four University of Idaho students in helping paint a picture of what went down that night, crime experts are pinpointing some key forensic evidence that could become integral to cracking the case.

Former homicide detective Ted Williams and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden dissected what is already known about the crime following a week of investigations on Sunday’s “Fox & Friends Weekend,” claiming some evidence from the scene could help investigators identify a suspect.

“One of more of the four [victims] had defensive wounds and, as a result of that, that leads me to believe that they fought back, simply meaning that there may as well be some forensic DNA evidence that the authorities have to work with in the process,” Williams said.

Baden later echoed the details, telling co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy that analyzing the bodies of the victims is equally important to searching the home and outside area for evidence. 

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“If there are any scratch marks, all of the fingernails of the four victims would be examined,” he said. “These fingernail scrapings would be examined to see if there’s any DNA from the perpetrator, which can occur during a struggle.” 

Both referenced the role that the blood seen oozing from the house could play in advancing the investigation, presuming police would assess whether the perpetrator(s) stepped in blood and left a footprint trail, or possibly left bloody fingerprints on the doorknob if they committed the crime without gloves.

“We don’t know yet if they figured out if the person was wearing gloves,” Baden said. “If there’s no gloves, bloody fingerprints would be around, especially on doorknobs and doors.

“Even if he [sic], presumably, wore gloves, one can get certain information from the bloody glove impressions…”

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Baden said the suspect would have had a “hard time” avoiding the blood when exiting the crime scene and could have tracked the blood around the house, offering crucial insight into the type of footwear the killer wore as well as the size of their feet.

He added that, though difficult to analyze, some blood uncovered in the house could have belonged to the perpetrator if a scratch mark were bleeding, or they accidentally cut themselves during the stabbings.

Williams touched on the type of knife that was possibly used in the crime, saying the perpetrator may have been “experienced” with the large, allegedly military-style knife used.

“It is my understanding that law enforcement officers are talking to most of the merchants in this area to try to determine if they’ve sold a knife of the sort described,” he said. 

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“That’s an important part of the investigation, because they were not able to recover the knife. Whoever left that scene would have had so much blood on them, and they would have had to have stepped in that blood… that means that there should have been some prints that the law enforcement officers should have been able to pick up.”

Baden challenged the investigation team for ostensibly failing to gather intel on the tire markings allegedly left behind by the perpetrator before weather could have distorted the markings. Just yesterday – about a week after the four students were killed – investigators could be seen at the residence taking pictures and measuring tire tracks.

He also said he believes the incident was a “targeted killing” since other roommates present in the house were not attacked.

As the investigation continues, Williams urged the public to keep eyes and ears open for any possible development that could help law enforcement move forward with the investigation.

“If you see something, say something,” he said. “The eyes of the public are one of the tools that help law enforcement to try to put together a ‘what happened here’ and to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

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