The autopsies performed on the four University of Idaho students who were butchered to death showed that the killings were “personal” – as the father of one of the victims suggested that his daughter tried to fight off the attacker.
Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt on Thursday confirmed that the cause of death was murder by stabbing.
“It would have had to been a large knife,” she told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News about the murder weapon, which has not been found.
The coroner described the attacks from early Sunday as “personal,” according to Idaho News, which cited a CBS report.
Mabbutt said it was possible that some of the wounds in the bloody rampage were defensive, adding that it was unknown who was attacked first.
She told KXLY that each victim was stabbed more than once and that there were no signs of sexual assault at the off-campus home on King Road where the students were slaughtered.
Mabbutt said there was a “fair amount of blood” at the scene, adding that in her 16 years on the job, she had never handled such a horrific case where four college students were killed in one spot.
“I don’t think I’ve had another death by stabbing,” she added.
The murders of Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, have left the school community reeling — with police describing the crime scene as the “worst they’ve ever seen.”
Kernodle’s father said he believes the autopsy results show that she fought her killer to the end.
“Bruises, torn by the knife. She’s a tough kid. Whatever she wanted to do, she could do it,” Jeffrey Kernodle told Arizona’s Family.
Jeffrey said he last heard from Xana, who was from Avondale, Arizona, at midnight Sunday and that “she was fine.”
“They were just hanging out at home. Xana was just hanging out at home with her boyfriend,” he told the news outlet, referring to Chapin.
“Her and Ethan were together about a year, give or take. And she, really, when I went up there she, I saw her just a week before that and she changed a lot. She had a life. She got to see what it was like to have a boyfriend you live with,” the devastated dad said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people held a vigil at Boise State University on Thursday night to remember the slain students.
“Today I wear the black and gold of the University of Idaho,” BSU President Marlene Tromp told the crowd, the Idaho Statesman reported.
“Today, our long-standing rivalry is set aside. Today, we come together to create light in a painful and dark time. We are all Vandals. Ethan. Xana. Madison. Kaylee. We will remember,” she said.
One person in attendance read a statement on behalf of a student who was said to be a friend of the three female victims.
“I remember jumping on the trampoline and watching ‘MTV Cribs’ at Kaylee’s house, to watching reality TV and trying on makeup at Maddie’s,” wrote the friend, named Carly. “They are people who shaped who I am today in crucial years in my life, and I will always think fondly of the friendships I had with them.”
BSU student Trevor Drummond remembered Kernodle, whom he met in junior high.
“Xana, she treated me like I was part of the friend group for years,” he said, the Statesman reported.
“I don’t think there’s anyone as outgoing, fun or loving as her. Whenever we were hanging out, she would always make sure others around her were having more fun than she was,” he added.