Renowned Forensic Pathologist Says Idaho Coroner Is Overlooking Critical Detail in All Four Victims
A veteran medical examiner and forensic pathologist is taking issue with a coroner’s comments marginalizing the toxicology reports about the victims of the Moscow, Idaho murder victims.
On November 13, University of Idaho students Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, were found dead in the house they rented in Moscow, Idaho. No suspects have been named.
Last week, Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt downplayed the results of the tests, which she said had not yet come in, according to Fox News.
“They can be related to cause or manner of death, but they are not in this case,” she said, adding that the tests were not relevant to the investigation.
Dr. Michael Baden, a top forensic pathologist, disagreed, according to Fox News,
“From the toxicology, you could learn a great deal about where the decedents were during the hours before their death, what, if any, drugs they were taking, their state of mind. Did they take drugs that could have caused them to sleep and not wake during the encounter?”
Baden noted that Mabbutt is not a medical doctor, but an attorney who was a nurse. She was elected coroner in 2006.
Baden said the toxicology reports can add to the picture of what took place on the last night of the four victims’ lives.
“These days there are literally hundreds of drugs looked for in toxicology that are new and different because of all the fentanyl and methamphetamine-like drugs coming from different sources. Certain drugs are used in Washington versus Idaho, and this could offer clues about where they were or who they were with before they died,” he said.
“Maybe one of the victims had their food spiked. This would be a significant piece of evidence,” he said.
Retired Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman said Mabbutt is not all wrong.
“They were attacked with a knife, and they basically bled to death. Toxicology wouldn’t affect that no matter what they ingested. I’d put my money on there being alcohol in all four victims’ systems. … What conclusions can you draw from that?” he said.
Fuhrman said Mabbutt’s mistake has been sharing information with the families of the victims.
“She should stop talking. She has never done an autopsy. She doesn’t understand the value of the autopsy information to police. She should not have talked to anybody about the injuries of any of the victims,” he said.
Fox News is also reporting on a video uncovered by Kristine Cameron and Alina Smith, administrators of the “University of Idaho Murders – Case Discussion” Facebook group, that caught a bit of conversation believed to be between Goncalves and Mogen.
“Maddie, what did you say to Adam?” the woman believed to be Goncalves said.
“Like, I told Adam everything,” the woman believed to be Mogen said.
According to Steve Goncalves, father of one victim, the man referred to is not a suspect.
“We asked and did the obvious due diligence, and we looked into that, and it was pretty clear that this individual was not a part of the investigation as far as a suspect,” he said.
While internet sleuths investigate, police are warning against leaping to conclusions
“People are going down these rabbit holes, and they’re hyperfocusing on one individual and attacking that individual. You’re attacking, most likely, an innocent person,” Tauna Davis, an Idaho State Police trooper, said, according to the Associated Press.
Julie Wiest, a sociology professor at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, said a lack of facts has contributed to the online sleuthing.
“Usually by now, there’s more facts that have been released by law enforcement, so I could see that ramping up the sort of digging and almost grasping at straws by people,” Wiest said.
“People should maybe think about knowing what they post is in writing forever, and maybe also remembering that there are real people here. The families of the victims should also be considered. You can speculate while talking with your friends in your living room, but once you put it on the internet — even if it’s just a one-off thought that popped into your head — it’s there now and it’s not going away.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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