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Examining University of Idaho murders: You're not solving crime, you're scrolling TikTok

Cases like the Idaho murders deserve more respect, dignity and distance than they receive from the internet. – Photo by @ABC7NY / Twitter

On Nov. 13, 2022, four college students from the University of Idaho, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, were brutally murdered in their college house with little evidence of who the killer could be.

At the time, every news outlet in the country reported on the deaths, and the public was instantly invested in solving the crime and bringing justice to the young victims.

Police found the alleged culprit to the murders, Bryan Kohberger, weeks after the actual crime occurred. He's currently awaiting his trial in June. Despite the case's relative freshness, many have taken advantage of its notoriety without respecting the victims or their families.

The families of the victims have only had a few months to grasp the reality that they'll never see their loved ones again, and now the details of the case are being spread and scrutinized all over different social media platforms.

Prior to Kohberger’s arrest, there was a significant amount of controversy surrounding social media "detectives" attempting to figure out who committed the murders. Many online sleuths re-created the crime scene, sifted through photographs and even named suspects.

One TikTok psychic determined that the killer was a professor at the University of Idaho and even listed their name. Based on just a premonition, the professor began to receive hate online, threatening their standing at the university. The claim was quickly busted, and the professor is now seeking legal compensation for the distress that the psychic caused them.

After a few weeks went by and no suspect had come forward, the police announced to the public that 1 of the 2 girls who lived in the house had survived and witnessed the murder. She opened her bedroom door to see the killer walk right past her and, assumedly due to shock, went back into her room and fell asleep, according to her statement.

It wasn’t until the morning that she called the police and the quadruple homicide was discovered. The internet took another evil turn and questioned why she didn’t call the police the second she saw the murderer.

Instead of having compassion for a girl who lost four of her closest friends, the "internet detectives" concluded that she must have had something to do with the murders and was possibly an accomplice. They decided that there was no other way that the killer was able to get into the house without her help.

Blaming a victim is the worst possible thing people could do in a situation like this. We don’t know what this girl's thought process was or how we might react if we just heard our friends get murdered. It's easy for us, as the public, to make quick judgments and assumptions, but no one knows how they'll react to a traumatic situation until they're in one.

Many TikTok and YouTube content creators made videos on the murders in an attempt to weigh their opinion on the case. But yet again, it was, and still is, extremely obvious that this is just another case of people trying to feed off of the attention this case is getting.

The four victims murdered were real people with real lives, families and friends. The public used their horrendous deaths as a scary and dramatic story to feed off of but didn’t take into consideration the implication that it might have on the victim’s memory.

When posting on the internet, we don't exist in a bubble. People see what we post, and despite the anonymity and perceived distance the internet provides us, we need to treat these cases with the same amount of respect we would if we met the victim's loved ones face to face.

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