Why police withhold information in an investigation

() — As the University of Idaho stabbing investigation enters its fourth week, some family members of the victims want more transparency from investigators. But experts say there are reasons why authorities may keep information close to the vest.

“I just feel like there’s been a couple individuals that were cleared very fast that maybe should not have been,” Kristi Goncalves, mother of victim Kaylee Goncalves, told in an exclusive interview Sunday.

Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20 and Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death in a rental home near the University of Idaho campus Nov. 13.

The family wants more clarity about how some individuals were cleared so quickly.

But it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to withhold information that could compromise the investigation, one expert told .

“There’s a number of reasons for it: to avoid copycatting, to avoid bogus tips, bogus confessions — the whole back evidence can be used to basically calibrate the veracity of a confession,” said Michael Arntfield, a criminologist and co-director of the Murder Accountability Project, a nonprofit that focuses on unsolved murders.

In other words, authorities don’t want the public to have information that only the killer would know — for example, revealing which victim the attacker killed first, Arntfield said.

ditional information about cleared individuals could end up doing more harm than good and further overwhelm investigators who are already dealing with thousands of tips. On Saturday, the Moscow Police Department provided data showing the scale of the investigation:

  • More than 2,645 emails have been received through the tip email address (tipline@ci.moscow.id.us)
  • More than 2,770 calls have been made to the Tip Line at 208-883-7180
  • More than 1,084 digital media submissions have been sent to the FBI link
  • A total of 113 pieces of physical evidence have been collected
  • There are approximately 4,000 crime scene photographs
  • Multiple three-dimensional scans have been made of the residence

“Only vetted information that does not hinder the investigation will be released to the public,” Moscow Police said Saturday. “There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false information.”

Investigators also want to avoid incriminating innocent people, especially with the rise of amateur social media sleuths.

After giving a TV interview following the attacks, a nearby neighbor and third-year law student said he was harassed by people on the internet who decided his nervous smile was cause for suspicion.

“People online have been ruthless,” the man told ’s Ashleigh Banfield. The amateur investigators became so convinced that they began contacting the neighbor’s friends and family. He now carries a pistol for protection.

So far, around a half-dozen people linked to the case have been ruled out as suspects, police said. Those individuals include:

  • The two surviving roommates who were sleeping on a separate floor at the time of the attack
  • A male seen in a Grub Truck surveillance video
  • The driver who took Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen home Nov. 13
  • The male Goncalves and Madison called numerous times during the early morning hours of Nov. 13
  • Any individual at the residence when 911 was called

On Sunday, sources told that Kaylee Goncalves’ injuries were “significantly more brutal” than her best friend Madison Mogen’s, who was sleeping in the same bed.

Investigators said they have looked into claims that Kaylee Goncalves had a stalker but have not verified or identified such an individual.

The Goncalves family told they just want to understand the process better as the investigation approaches its fourth week. 

“We don’t want to make more victims out of innocent people,” Steve Goncalves said. 

Police can always re-evaluate a person they have “cleared.” In fact, publicly clearing someone could give the killer a false sense of security that leads to a mistake.

You May Also Like

Will the Happy Valley effect continue? Hebden Bridge residents speak out on 'cloud of despair' after BBC show's ending

Many are sad the hit series has come to an end

Person shot in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood; condition unknown

One person was taken to the hospital after a shooting in Denver’s…

Neo-Nazi group founder among 2 charged with Maryland substation attack plots

BALTIMORE, M.D. (WGHP) — Two people, one of them a neo-Nazi leader…

California trio plead guilty, supplied fentanyl linked to Wise County teen overdoses | WJHL

ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — A California trio, who was previously indicted for…

Council votes in favor of agreement to donate Jacksonville Beach Lifeguard Station to city

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The Jacksonville Beach City Council on Monday evening…

How will Biden reassert leadership?

() — President Joe Biden on Tuesday night will stand before a joint…

Happy Valley stars reveal how show's ending was kept from cast as they meet for first time on This Morning

The stars revealed details of the last ever episode were taken out…

Fufeng project was voted to be canceled

(KXNET) — Grand Forks’ city council voted unanimously to cancel the Fufeng…

Leigh Leopards launch eye-catching away shirt that has to be seen to be believed

The Leopards are certainly planning to make a splash on their return…

Chilling Details About Mafia Hitmen, Murder, Inc.

Louis “Lepke” Buchalter was one of the most important members of Murder,…

Gainesville City Commission vows to end gun ‘crisis’ after 3rd Avenue shooting

In the early hours of Thursday morning before the City Commission meeting,…

Barnsley farmer's misery as land targeted 47 times by illegal off-road bikers costing thousands

Police say attacks on farms are more common this time of the…