MOSCOW – A cloud has hung over the University of Idaho, a usually bustling campus that had grown empty days ahead of schedule.
Students have headed home early for Thanksgiving break in droves, with few remaining by the end of the somber week.
Following the stabbing deaths of four UI students Sunday, classes are still in session as the investigation continues.
While she herself considered going home early, freshman Andrea Blalock’s class of 84 students had gone down to 20 by Thursday. Since the homicide, she has found Moscow to be scarier, the idea that the killer could be out there a stressful thought.
“I listened to the press conference (Wednesday) night and it’s a little nerve wracking to know that they’re still potentially a threat,” Blalock said.
The atmosphere on campus feels charged to Alexis Blalock, Andrea Blalock’s sister.
“I used to go on like late-night walks around Paradise Path, and like, now I just don’t,” Alexis Blalock said.
The pair from Homedale live in dorms on campus. The day of the homicide discovery, the sisters didn’t receive the Vandal Alert that went across campus, notifying students to shelter in place. Instead, as they walked outside the dorms, a man told them they needed to get inside.
“We looked up what was happening, but I guess we were just confused because it wasn’t very specific,” Alexis Blalock said. “It just said that there was a homicide, (it was) really shocking.”
Originally from Portland, Oregon, senior Ashley Paine was somewhat unwavered by the violence of Sunday’s deaths, with it being more common in her hometown.
“I didn’t think much of it,” Paine said.
Still, Paine made it clear that her heart went out to the families of the victims. She also felt the impact on this small college town was different.
“Things like this don’t happen in Moscow, and so, I feel like the community is still in shock,” Paine said.
From the original alert that vaguely referred to the incident as a homicide, Paine assumed it would be an individual accident. Since then, a lack of information has allowed the story to become clouded by misinformation.
“The rumor mill is going around like crazy,” Paine said. “I feel like Moscow PD hasn’t been as open as they have been in other cases.”
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Her classes have pushed back deadlines and a majority have been canceled. Most students had left campus early.
“Just very solemn, kind of, you know, depressing,” Paine said. “It’s very empty.”
With students having already left, UI rescheduled a vigil originally planned for Wednesday to Nov. 30.
Originally from Boise, Isaac Maust lives in the freshman dorms on campus and is studying architecture. A majority of his classes were optional for the week.
While he continued to attend some classes, citing his love for art studios as motivation, campus has felt off and surprisingly empty.
“In general, it’s just kind of unsettling how quiet it is because everyone went home early,” Maust said.
Maust was taken aback by the announcement of four dead, initially believing it would be a singular incident. A continued lack of information has grown his concern.
“I wasn’t as worried as I was later in the week,” Maust said.
Maust commended the university, with his own professors having been very supportive of whether or not he decided to attend classes.
In the wake of all that has come out, rather than mourning, Maust hasn’t been able to process his emotions.
“I don’t know (how I’ve been feeling), it’s kind of weird,” he said. “I am not grieving, which is somewhat concerning to me.”
Rumors have been swirling, with speculation leading to misinformation.
“The other day I overheard people speculating in the lounge, like a detective case,” Maust said. “But that’s kind of disrespectful, in my opinion, because you’re not a detective. It’s not your place to speculate on these things.”
Looking forward, Maust had the families of the victims in mind.
“The family always gets overlooked and I hope that they get the support they need on Thanksgiving since it happened so close to a holiday,” he said. “I know like in my family in the past, when people die around a holiday, it makes it really hard. Not even just for one year, but for many years to come. So I hope the family gets the support they need in the upcoming years.”