Internet sleuths frustrated over the lack of substantial updates in the University of Idaho murders investigation have taken to Reddit to share their theories about what happened on the night of 13 November.
Following a press conference on Wednesday marked by a lack of notable developments, the Reddit subchannels MoscowMurders and IdahoMurders have amassed more than 43,000 members who discuss the case on a daily basis.
In the forums, people from across the country are weighing in on the investigation into the slayings of Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen inside their off-campus rental home in Moscow.
Some posts contain information that is entirely speculative and has already been debunked by authorities, while other users have reminded that police are doing their jobs and the case is “not a 60-minute CSI crime show.”
Despite the posts being filtered as “speculation,” “information,” “questions” and “theories,” misinformation about the investigation, potential motives behind the killing and people who police have already ruled out as suspects continues to proliferate.
Families of the murdered students have previously pleaded with people spreading rumours online to stop, saying the rampant speculation is only harming the investigation.
“All the noise out there is really harming the families,” a friend of Kristi and Steve Goncalves, Kaylee’s parents, told The Independent. “And it’s taking the police down trails that are not real and taking them away from the ones that are.”
Chapin’s parents, Stacy and Jim Chapin, told NBC affiliate KING5 that drugs or a love triangle were not involved in the murders.
“The things that are being said are 100 per cent not true,” Ms Chapin told the outlet. “There [are] not drugs involved, there is not some weird love triangle. He had stayed the night at his girlfriend’s house, who was one of five girls who lived in the home.”
Police have issued similar pleas, asking the media and the public to only seek information from the department’s official channels.
“Rumors and speculation continue circulating about the ongoing investigation,” Moscow Police Department said last week.
“MPD cautions the public not to rely on rumors and remains committed to keeping the public informed. We urge reliance on official channels for accurate information.”
On Wednesday, authorities gave a press conference with virtually no updates, but pointed out that more than 1,000 tips have been received and 190 interviews have been conducted.
Captain Roger Lanier said that the department believes the attack was targeted but won’t release information as to why they think so.
“You’re going to have to trust on that at this point because we are not going to release why we think that,” he said.
The FBI, Idaho State Police and Moscow Police Department have allocated $1m to the case and have assigned more than 130 officers and agents and a few behavioural analysts to work on it.