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Demolition of House Where University of Idaho Murders Took Place Suspended Until At Least October
“We believe leaving the house standing, for now, is the right course to take,” University of Idaho President Scott Green said, after some victims' family members opposed tearing it down before Bryan Kohberger’s murder trial.
The demolition of the off-campus home where the slayings of four University of Idaho students took place last fall has been paused, following opposition from some of the victims' families.
University of Idaho President C. Scott Green announced in a memo Wednesday that plans for demolition have been delayed and will be revisited in October, the same month the quadruple murder trial for suspect Bryan Kohberger is set to begin.
The home had been privately owned at the time of the killings, but the owner gave it to the university following the slayings.
Why did the University of Idaho murder victims' families object to the demolition?
Shannon Gray, an attorney for the family of Goncalves, had previously said that the university ignored their request to not tear the house down until after Kohberger's trial, according to The Idaho Statesman.
Gray told the newspaper that the school consulted with the victims' families about what to do with the home, but that officials then “proceeded to ignore those opinions and pursue their own self-interests.”
The school now says it will pause demolition “upon the completion of the remediation of the house, including lead and asbestos abatement," according to the memo.
“Since that fateful night in November, the house on King Road where four of our fellow Vandals were senselessly killed has stood as a stark reminder of what was lost,” Green stated. “We lost our innocence and our sense of safety. We realized that evil can visit our town and we lost four bright souls from our Vandal Family.”
“There is no legal requirement for leaving the house standing — both the prosecution and defense have released any interest in the house for their cases,” Green added, stating that the university still fully plans to tear the house down, but that “we believe leaving the house standing, for now, is the right course to take.”
Green said the university is aware of the different viewpoints on whether the house should remain standing or be torn down, and has taken them all into consideration. “On the one hand, some people want it taken down," he wrote. "It is a constant reminder of the heinous acts that went on inside it. It is also a place that continues to draw unwanted attention from media, YouTubers and others.
"On the other hand, it elicits deep emotional responses from those who are working through grief and who fear that its destruction could impact the court case,” he added.
All personal items of the victims have been removed from the house and their families will be able to retrieve the belongings soon, according to the memo.
What will the University of Idaho do with the space?
The university has also shared plans to construct a memorial and "healing garden" that can be accessed by students.
“The space will include a permanent reminder of Xana, Ethan, Madison and Kaylee, as well as a garden space for quiet reflection, remembrance and honor for all,” the University of Idaho stated.
The project will be handled by students in the University of Idaho’s College of Art and Architecture, who will “develop plans for this shared healing space” this coming fall semester.
Green expressed appreciation toward the community for responding to the tragedy “with empathy and patience.”