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Idaho college murders: Two slain students’ families reserve right to sue Moscow, documents say

Courtesy of the Goncalves family

(MOSCOW, Idaho) — The families of two of the victims in the University of Idaho killings last fall have filed notice reserving their right to sue the city of Moscow, according to documents filed with the city.

The families of slain students Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, may seek damages against the city for the murders of their daughters, according to the notices, which were dated May 3 and May 11, respectively, and were obtained by ABC News.

The notices do not specify what kind of claim the families may make. They say that potential dollar figures for damages are “undetermined at this time.”

No lawsuit has yet been filed, but the claims protect the families’ rights to sue within two years, Shanon Gray, an attorney representing the Goncalves and Mogen families, told ABC News.

“Filing a tort claims notice is really just a safeguard,” Gray said. “It’s a safeguard to protect the interests of the families, the victims and really the whole community around, because if something goes wrong, or was done improperly, then someone is held accountable for that.”

Gray said he had also filed tort claims notices with Washington State as well as Idaho State.

“Those aren’t meant to do anything other than protect the interests of the families and the victims moving forward,” Gray said.

When reached Monday evening, Moscow Mayor Art Bettge had no comment on the matter.

Goncalves and Mogen were among four students at the university, along with Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, who were found stabbed to death at their off-campus house on Nov. 13 by officers responding at the scene. After a more than six-week hunt, police zeroed in on a suspect: Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old criminology Ph.D. student at nearby Washington State University.

Kohberger was arrested on Dec. 30 in Pennsylvania, after driving cross-country to spend the holidays at his family home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, a grand jury returned a multi-count indictment against Kohberger, including four counts of murder in the first degree.

Kohberger stood silent at his arraignment Monday. Second District Judge John Judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Early on in the investigation, Gray and the Goncalves families had expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation and what they described as lack of transparency.

In a mid-December interview on NBC, Gray questioned whether the local police were “capable” of handling the quadruple homicide investigation and that they had done a “poor job” of communicating information to the family.

“If they are in over their heads, then acknowledge that and turn the investigation over to someone who is more versed in handling these types of matters,” Gray said.

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