Following Wednesday’s autopsy of the four University of Idaho students found dead Sunday near campus, the Latah County coroner confirmed the cause of death was murder by stabbing.

“It would have had to been a large knife,” Cathy Mabbutt said about the murder weapon, which has not been found.

She said one weapon was used in the killings.

The time of death for Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves is in the early morning hours Sunday, Mabbutt said. Police have shared that the four students were likely at the King Road residence sometime after 1:45 a.m.

Mabbutt said it is unknown who was attacked first. She said it is possible some wounds on the bodies were defensive.

DNA samples, including from the clothing, bedding and nail clippings, still need to be tested at a forensics lab.

Mabbutt shared that there was a “fair amount of blood” at the King Road residence where the crime took place when she assessed the scene.

In her 16 years as coroner, Mabbutt said she has never dealt with a case like this where four college students were killed at one location.

“I don’t think I’ve had another death by stabbing,” she said.

She expressed sadness for the effect this has had on a close-knit community.

“I’m with everybody else that somebody needs to be caught … it’s not going to bring these people’s lives back, but I think it will bring a bigger sense of peace to the community,” she said.

On Wednesday, Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry urged the community to stay vigilant as police continue searching for a suspect.

Even though the suspect is still at large, Tri-State Outfitters store manager Jennifer Laferriere said the sporting goods store has not seen an increase in people buying weapons this week.

What it has seen, she said, is customers sharing their concerns and questions about the murder case.

“We’ve seen just people mourning and a lot of sadness,” she said.

According to an Idaho Statesman report, the general manager of Moscow Building Supply said the police have asked if it sold a Ka-Bar brand knife to anyone.

As of Thursday morning, Laferriere told the Daily News the police had not yet approached her with this question. Laferriere said knives are not serialized and knife sales are not recorded.

In an interview with the Lewiston Tribune, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said it is difficult for people to feel safe when a suspect has not been identified.

“In most of the cases we’ve had in the past, the perpetrator was quickly identified and apprehended,” he said. “So this case is somewhat unique in that way.”

The most recent was in January of 2015, when John Lee went on a shooting spree, killing three people, including his adoptive mother, and wounding a fourth.

Thompson said the current situation is frustrating for everyone involved because “there really hasn’t been much information available.”

“The basic information is all out there, but there’s more questions than answers at this point,” he said.

Thompson said his office is providing advice and support to investigators, including helping with search warrants for social media sites and cell tower information.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com. William L. Spence, with the Lewiston Tribune, also contributed to this report.

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