The killings of University of Idaho students may not have been a targeted attack, police say, retracting their earlier statement.

Police investigating the grisly slayings of four University of Idaho students are retracting an earlier statement, now saying it is not known whether the residence or its occupants were “specifically targeted.”

Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, were found fatally stabbed to death in an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, on November 13, and the murders remain a mystery. .

The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office had previously stated that the “suspects specifically looked at this residence” and “one or more of the occupants was undoubtedly attacked.” On Wednesday, the Moscow Police Department said it was a “lack of communication”.

“Detectives do not currently know if the residence or the occupants were targeted specifically, but are continuing to investigate,” police said.

Flowers are laid at a makeshift memorial honoring four slain University of Idaho students in Moscow, Idaho.Tim Stelloh/NBC News

NBC News has reached out to the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office for clarification on his statement.

Two days after the bodies were found, Moscow police in November 15 described the killings as “a targeted attack” carried out with a “blade weapon.” The researchers have not disclosed their basis for that initial conclusion.

Nearly three weeks have passed since the murders, described by a local coroner as one of the most “gruesome” he has ever seen, leaving the families of the victims and the public with many questions.

This is not the first time that Moscow’s police force of 36 officers and staff in the largely rural city of nearly 26,000 residents has issued mixed messages in the case.

Another point that police have backed down on is whether there is a threat to the community.

In the hours after the victims’ bodies were discovered at their private residence half a block from the university, Moscow police told the public that while “no one is in custody,” the department “does not believe there is an ongoing risk to the community.”

Two days later, the officials went on to say that there was “no imminent threat.”

But that changed the next day: “We cannot say that there is no threat to the community,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry said at a Nov. 16 news conference.

These unclear answers may have given whoever fatally stabbed the students more time to flee, law enforcement experts say.