Police rule out Idaho professor suing TikToker over student murder allegations

Police investigating the fatal stabbings of four University of Idaho students have denied the professor’s involvement in the cold case after a self-proclaimed internet sleuth and tarot card reader posted accusations on TikTok claiming a connection.

“At this point in the investigation, detectives do not believe that a female assistant professor and chair of history at the University of Idaho, who filed a lawsuit against a TikTok user for defamation, is involved in this crime,” Moscow, Idaho police said Tuesday.

The police statement in defense of Prof. Rebecca Scofield is just the latest attempt by investigators to crack down on baseless accusations and distractions that arose in the absence of an arrest following the discovery of the Nov. 13 murders.

In an effort to clear her name, Scofield last week filed a federal lawsuit against Ashley Gillard, a Texas woman who posted accusations on TikTok that the professor planned the murders with another University of Idaho student.

Gillard’s TikTok account, titled “Ashley Reveals Mysteries,” has over 110,000 followers and includes dozens of videos of her thoughts on the case and the names of Scofield, as well as the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims.

In response to a Moscow police statement that Scofield was not involved in the killings, Gillard told NBC News that she still intends to talk about what she thinks happened.

The police statement “makes it clear to me that I’m needed to help solve this case,” Gillard said in an email. “A lawsuit is necessary because it gives me a legal basis for subpoenaing empirical evidence.”

TikTok videos began appearing on the platform on November 24 and have been viewed millions of times, according to Scofield’s lawsuit, which says Gillard claims to solve high-profile murders with tarot cards and “performing other readings.”

According to the lawsuit, Scofield began working at the university in 2016 and never met the murdered students, nor did any of them ever attend classes with her. She says she was with her husband in Portland, Oregon visiting friends when the students were killed.

After Scofield’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Gillard on November 29, she continued to post videos that the lawsuit calls defamatory. After sending a second such letter on Dec. 8, Gillard showed the document in a TikTok video and said that Scofield would need to “file actual legal documents in federal court” to request that they be removed, the lawsuit says.

The Moscow Police Department said Tuesday in a press release that it would not comment on the trial.

More coverage of the Idaho student murders

  • Murder scene was ‘grim’ as police battled public backlash
  • Investigators investigating student murders in Idaho face ‘challenging challenge’: DNA
  • ‘Four Great Children’: Community remembers murdered University of Idaho students at vigil
  • How an online investigation into unsolved murders at the University of Idaho can be ‘extremely dangerous’

Gillard doubled down on her claims in a video posted on TikTok Sunday, telling followers she had physical evidence to back up “everything I said about her, but I can’t talk about it now because it has to wait for a trial.”

Scofield’s lawyer said in a statement that Gillard’s allegations created “security issues” for her client, who had to install a security system in his home.

“They also exacerbate the trauma experienced by families of victims and undermine law enforcement efforts to find those responsible in order to provide answers to families and the public,” the statement said.

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