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Student exodus could be an issue in Idaho killing probe

(NewsNation) —University of Idaho students are heading home after a semester like no other. While such an exodus at semester’s end is typical, a good many students left long before now.  

“They’ve all moved their classes online because, one, it’s more convenient, but, also, the campus made a good policy of working with the students in the way they need to be worked with,” said Andrew Tucker, a Moscow resident, speaking on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour.”     

“Terror ran through the neighborhood — it ran through the community — and I’m sure there were moms and dads saying, ‘get your stuff, get in your car and come home now,’” Joseph Scott Morgan, a Jacksonville State forensics professor, said.   

Morgan, who is also a host of the podcast “Body Bags,” said those students going home potentially took important clues with them. And while Zoom and phone calls are available, they just don’t cut it with detectives.  

“If you have an interviewer that’s sitting there, they can ask that question and elicit a response and get that little piece of information that might lead back to something else, like If they heard something or if they saw something. ‘Have you ever met this person?’ ‘Yeah, I have.’ ‘Well, where were you? Oh, really? You were there?’ So that’s gone,” Morgan said.   

Artsy and funky, the small city of Moscow, Idaho, is like many college towns in that it attracts drifters and others drawn to the vitality of campus life.  

That nonstudent population, however, has no roots and is not easily trackable.  

“It would truly have to be very transient for that to cause problems. I think most of the time, those smaller colleges tend to be very homey, and you know each other,” retired FBI Agent Kathy Guider said on “Rush Hour” Tuesday.  

Only, some of those very students who might hold a critical clue that could crack the case wide open are no longer within easy reach of detectives.  

“It’s not like you’re in Small Town, USA, where people have lived there for generations, and they aren’t going anywhere, and their homes are there. That’s not the case. People go home and sometimes they do not come back,” Morgan said.  

Blaine Eckles, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Idaho, said about one-third of the students living in dorms did not come back to campus after Thanksgiving. And this week’s final exams are all online.