Fallout after house at center of Idaho college murders is torn down | What it means for the case

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Friday, December 29, 2023
Fallout after house at center of Idaho murders is torn down | What it means for the case
Some family members of the victims say they don't think it was best decision to tear down the house before the trial.

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Some of the families of the Idaho college murders are reacting following the demolition of the off-campus house where the killings took place.

The Moscow home where four University of Idaho students were brutally murdered is now an empty lot.

"We just didn't feel that it was the best decision for the children," said Kaylee Goncalves' father, Steve.

It was just over a year ago when prosecutors say Poconos native Bryan Kohberger, a criminology graduate student at a nearby college in Washington State, snuck into the rental home in the early morning and proceeded to stab Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin.

The home turned crime scene, which is clearly visible from campus, was given to the University of Idaho and school officials say tearing down the house was necessary for closure.

"This is a next step toward healing for our community. We have not made it a secret, since the time that the house was given to us, that our intent was to demolish the house," said Jodi Walker, University of Idaho communications director.

RELATED: History of what happens to homes linked to notorious killings as Idaho murders house is razed

FBI investigators were at the house In October, gathering information that possibly could be used at the trial.

"You would go room to room to do that to make sure that you get every possible conceivable piece of evidence before you turn the house back over to someone, or in this case, have the house demolished. The jury can now not walk through the crime scene where this occurred," said Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "It's so important, if the jury so desires, to be able to walk physically into the rooms where these attacks occurred. How the person got into the house - they can physically go through every door, every window.

The Goncalves and Kernodle opposed the demolition, insisting the house was still a key piece of evidence.

"With that many people inside that house, there was more evidence there than they probably knew what to do with," said Steve Goncalves.

RELATED: Idaho college murders timeline: From off-campus killings to Bryan Kohberger's court appearance

But not everyone argued against the demolition.

The family of the only male victim - 20-year-old Ethan Chapin - said in a statement: "We're supportive of the decision to take down the King Street house - for the good of the university, its students (including our own kids), and the community of Moscow."

The anguished families of the victims now putting public pressure on the court to speed up justice.

"These children can't speak for themselves. It's our job to speak for them," Goncalves said. "Having an empty parking lot really is way less important than making sure that these kids get justice."

The university says, for the moment, the land where the house once stood will remain a vacant lot. Meanwhile, a trial date has not yet been set after the judge entered a "not guilty" plea on Kohberger's behalf.

If convicted, Kohberger faces the death penalty.