The grieving family of slain University of Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves had an in-person meeting with police and local officials Monday to repair their increasingly strained relationship.
Family attorney Shanon Gray, who arranged the face-to-face, said the discussion focused on accountability and communication.
“I was pretty stern,” Gray told Fox News Digital in an interview Tuesday. He told the group, including Moscow Police Chief James Fry, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson and other investigators on the case, that the family was frustrated by the inconsistencies in their public statements and the lack of communication.
“If you have one voice, and it’s consistent, people trust in your investigation,” Gray said. “If there are three to four different stories coming from three to four different people, and they’re different takes on things, that diminishes the trust.”
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More than one month has passed since 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, her best friend Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death between 3 am and 4 am Nov. 13 inside a rental home near campus. Police have yet to publicly name a suspect.
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Gray, whom the family hired last week, highlighted the most egregious contradictions from officials during Monday’s meeting at the Latah County Courthouse law library.
Moscow Mayor Art Bettge called the murders a “crime of passion” before backtracking and saying this motive was one of many being probed by investigators. Thompson called the killings “targeted” in a news interview, which the police later called a miscommunication before reversing course again and agreeing with his position.
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The family was particularly upset by Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt’s statements, said Gray, a former state prosecutor in Portland, Oregon.
“I could go on for days about the coroner,” Gray added, in an exasperated tone. “Cathy Mabbutt made some personal phone calls to some of the family and released a lot of information that investigators didn’t know about,” he said.
In an exclusive interview Sunday, Steve Goncalves told Fox News Digital that Mabbutt had shared explicit details of Kaylee’s injuries with one of his underage daughters.
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“When you’re a coroner, you kind of have to go to the parents,” he said. Goncalves added that the coroner “embellished a bunch of stuff, like her own hypotheses of what happened and her theory of things.”
She had also shared with the father details of the other victims’ injuries, which he felt was inappropriate.
The main purpose of the meeting, though, was to move forward and improve communication with the family, Gray noted.
“We should never find out anything new in the investigation from a press release or a newspaper interview,” he said, adding that the police should tell the family first.
The Goncalves family supports the police and wants nothing more than for them to succeed in solving the case, but they also want to be treated with respect, Gray added.
“We’re optimistic, we’re hopeful the police are moving in the right direction,” he said. “We support them.”
As disturbing rumors swirl on social media, Gray is urging the public to treat the victims’ families, many of whom have been viciously attacked online, with more empathy.
“If there was a little more kindness and grace in this world, I think we would all be better off,” he said.
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Mabbutt and the Moscow Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment. Police are asking the public to call in tips 208-883-7180, email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit digital media TIMES.