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Demolition begins of house where University of Idaho students were killed

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Demolition of the home where four University of Idaho students were staying began Thursday. killed last yearmarking an emotional milestone for the victims’ families and a close-knit community that was shocked and devastated by the brutal knife attacks.

The sounds of construction equipment pierced the air early in the morning as an excavator began demolishing the front portion of the house. The old walls formed a large pile of crushed and broken wood on the ground as the debris was collected and loaded into a dump truck.

The owner of the rental house near the university’s campus in Moscow, Idaho, donated it to the university earlier this year. Since then, it has been barricaded and blocked by a security barrier. Students Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves were fatally stabbed there in November 2022.

School officials, who in February announced his intention to raze the houseview demolition as a key step toward closure, said university spokeswoman Jodi Walker.

“This is an area that is full of students, and many students have to look at it and live with it every day and have expressed to us how removing this house would help the healing process,” she said .

Contractors estimated it would take a few hours for the house to be razed and several more to clear the site of debris, Walker said, adding that weather conditions would also be a factor.

The site will be planted with grass at some point after demolition, Walker said. She said there are no other plans at this time, but the university may return to it in the future.

Some families of the victims have opposed the demolitioncalling for the house to be preserved until the trial of the man accused of the murders. Bryan Kohbergera former criminology graduate student at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, has been charged with four counts of murder.

A judge entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Kohberger earlier this year.

Prosecutors, who hopes to try Kohberger next summer, told university officials in an email that they no longer anticipated needing the house because they were already able to collect the measurements needed to create illustrative exhibits for juried viewing. They added that a jury visit to the scene would not be allowed as the current state of the house “is very different” from that at the time of the murders.

The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment, citing a gag order from an Idaho judge who restricts what attorneys handling the case can say to the media.

Kohberger’s defense team received access to the house earlier this month to gather photos, measurements and other documents. And in October, the FBI met at the house to collect data that could be used to create visual aids for jurors in the upcoming trial.

Kernodle, Mogen and Goncalves lived together in the rental house across the street from campus. Chapin – Kernodle’s boyfriend – was visiting the night of the attack. All were friends and members of the university’s Greek system. These murders left many of their classmates and residents of Moscow shaken by grief and fear.

Moscow is a rural farming and college town of about 26,000 nestled in the rolling hills of north-central Idaho, about 80 miles southeast of Spokane, Washington.

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Rush reported from Portland, Oregon.

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