Ashley Guillard claims she knows who killed four University of Idaho students in a grisly crime that has shocked the country and stumped police. Her source of information? Tarot card readings.
In scores of videos posted to her TikTok account, the self-styled psychic unwinds a bizarre and baseless theory that the chair of the university’s history department orchestrated the killings after a romantic entanglement with one of the students. She shared the professor’s photograph and branded her the killer in TikTok videos that have been viewed 2.5 million times.
Now the historian at the center of Guillard’s allegations, Rebecca Scofield, has filed a defamation lawsuit against her. The lawsuit, which follows two cease-and-desist letters sent to the TikToker, says the claims have upended Scofield’s life, damaged her reputation and put her and her family’s safety at risk.
“Professor Scofield has never met Guillard,” says the complaint filed Wednesday in Idaho District Court. “She does not know her. She does not know why Guillard picked her to repeatedly falsely accuse of ordering the tragic murders and being involved with one of the victims. Professor Scofield does know that she has been harmed by the false TikToks and false statements.”
The Moscow Police Department has not identified any suspects in the killings of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20. The four are believed to have been asleep when someone entered the off-campus house and attacked them in the early morning hours of Nov. 13. Police say they were stabbed to death with a fixed-blade knife; a weapon has not been recovered, and a motivation has not been publicly identified.
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Rampant speculation has surrounded the killings since they became public, with much of it unfolding online. The Moscow Police Department maintains a “rumor control” section on its website and has decried the spread of misinformation.
“There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts,” the Moscow Police Department said in a Dec. 2 news release. A week later, the department warned on Facebook that people harassing or threatening those potentially involved with the case could face criminal charges. Police had received 15,000 tips regarding the case as of Saturday.
Scofield’s lawsuit accuses Guillard of seeking to benefit from the huge interest in the case, with the complaint charging that she has “decided to use the community’s pain for her online self-promotion.”
Guillard, a Texas resident whose TikTok bio reads “Ashley is God,” told The Washington Post that she got into tarot card reading after what she called a “spiritual journey” around 2015. She said that after a follower asked her to look into the Idaho killings, she did a reading that “was alluding to a teacher being involved.”
The cards then led her to the word “history.” She pulled up the University of Idaho’s history department website and saw Scofield at the top of the page. Another reading told her the history chair was involved, Guillard said. That was that — she was convinced. She told a Post reporter not to dismiss card reading as speculation.
“Having my gift or my ability, I know what I know,” she said.
She started posting her claims Nov. 24, using Scofield’s university photo and saying repeatedly — and without any evidence — that she had ordered the students’ killings because she did not want people to find out that she was in a same-sex relationship with one of the victims.
The lawsuit calls that claim “false.”
“As Guillard’s statements involve moral turpitude, a professor being involved with a student, they are per se defamatory in nature,” it says.
The lawsuit requests a jury trial, attorneys’ fees, and compensatory and punitive damages.
Scofield is an Idaho native and Harvard-educated historian who has spent her career highlighting the often overlooked diversity of the American West, creating an audio history of gay rodeo and writing a book called “Outriders: Rodeo at the Fringes of the American West.” She said in the lawsuit that she had never taught the four students and could not recall ever meeting them. On the weekend of the killings, she and her husband were in Portland visiting friends, she said.
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Since finding herself at the center of Guillard’s allegations, she has installed a security system at her home, fearing that someone could harm her or her family members. She worries that her reputation has also been affected; the lawsuit says the TikTok videos led to her name being linked to “murder” in a basic internet search.
“The statements made about Professor Scofield are false, plain and simple,” one of her attorneys, Wendy Olson, said in a statement. “What’s even worse is that these untrue statements create safety issues for the Professor and her family. They also further compound the trauma that the families of the victims are experiencing and undermine law enforcement efforts to find the people responsible in order to provide answers to the families and the public.”
Guillard remained defiant in the face of the lawsuit, returning to TikTok to post more videos about Scofield, at times calling her “Killer Rebecca.” She described the suit as “measly” and said she was excited to “present my ideas in court.”
She told The Post that she isn’t worried about being sued, that “time will tell and I’m willing to take the risk.” She has not hired an attorney.
“I’m going to keep posting. I’m not taking anything down,” she said. “If in the alternate universe, if I was wrong, this is an open and shut case. I did say she ordered the execution of the four University of Idaho students. I’m still posting. I’ve said a lot of things about her. I’m not going to stop. If I’m such a liar, I’m so wrong about it, then in court she will win.”
Idaho killings: Professor Rebecca Scofield sues TikToker Ashley … – The Washington Post