Idaho Murders Update: The NorthEasternPost.com has maintained in-depth coverage of the case since Bryan Kohberger, the suspect charged in the fatal stabbings of four University of Idaho students, was arrested nearly two months ago.
On December 30, Kohberger was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania.
In the Nov. 13 attack that killed the University of Idaho seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, he faces four counts of felony first-degree murder and a felony burglary charge.
Here’s what we know and what has happened since November 12-13, 2022.
WHAT ARE THE MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS?
On Feb. 28, the Pennsylvania police and FBI unveiled a search warrant revealing that more than 70 items were taken from Kohberger’s parent’s home in the Poconos. Black clothing and Kohberger’s size 13 Nike shoes, four medical-style gloves, a large white T-shirt, and a silver flashlight were among the items seized.
A Glock 22 handgun with three empty magazines and its sales record, a Smith & Wesson pocket knife, a Taylor cutlery knife with leather sheath, and an unlabeled knife were also seized. Kohberger’s white 2015 Hyundai Elantra was seized, and officers discovered a shovel, goggles and gloves, a reflective vest, a Band-Aid, maps, receipts, a pair of hiking boots, and $7.03 in change.
According to court records, Kohberger expressed his support for Anne Taylor, a court-appointed public defender who previously represented a parent of one of the four victims. Taylor‘s previous representation of the parent raised potential conflict-of-interest concerns, according to The IdahoStatesman.com.
In addition to ongoing coverage, the IdahoStatesman has compiled a timeline of events from the hours preceding the stabbings to Kohberger’s return to Idaho. That timeline can be found here.
WHAT ELSE HAS HAPPENED SINCE THE ARREST OF KOHBERGER?
The house at 1122 King Road, where the four victims were killed, was donated to the University of Illinois. According to a university spokesperson, the house will be demolished by the end of the spring semester. There are no plans for what will replace the house on that property, but the school is collaborating with students and others to develop a future development plan to honor the four students.
The University of Illinois also announced plans to build a memorial and garden for the victims. The university has not yet determined a location but has confirmed that it will be on Moscow campus grounds.
A gag order issued in early January by Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall prohibiting communication about the case from “investigators, law enforcement personnel, attorneys, and agents of the prosecuting or defense attorney” was updated on Jan. 19.
In addition to the previously prohibited parties, the updated order prohibits attorneys representing a witness, victim, or victim’s family from discussing the case. More than two dozen news organizations, including the Statesman, have petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court to have the order lifted.
Kohberger filed an objection on Feb. 9 to another motion to vacate the order in his case. Shanon Gray, the attorney representing Goncalves’ family, filed the motion, claiming that the gag order was too broad.
Kohberger’s defense team argued that “pretrial expression” could jeopardize his right to a “speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.”
Kevin Fixler of The Statesman visited Kohberger’s hometown in Pennsylvania and spoke with several old-school friends and acquaintances. The full story is available here; some of the topics discussed include Kohberger’s alleged drug use, his “desire to be an alpha” among peers, and how his arrest has affected that area of eastern Pennsylvania.
BRYAN KOHBERGER IS WHO?
He is a 28-year-old Ph.D. student at Washington State University studying criminal justice and criminology. In December, he completed his first semester. According to police, Kohberger lived near the university in Pullman, about a 9-mile drive from Moscow and the University of Idaho.
Kohberger was listed as an assistant instructor for three undergraduate criminal justice courses in Washington State University’s fall course catalog. According to the catalog, all three courses ended on December 9, nearly a month after the killings.
According to court records, Kohberger was born in Albrightsville, a hamlet in the Pocono Mountains near Chestnuthill Township in northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2018, he earned an associate degree in psychology from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania.
Following that, Kohberger attended DeSales University in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and a master’s degree in criminal justice in May 2022. He surveyed DeSales as part of a research project aimed at gathering information from people who had committed crimes.
Among the survey’s questions was, “Did you prepare for the crime before leaving your home?” “How did you flee the scene?”
A search of court records in Washington, Idaho, and Pennsylvania turned up nothing but an August 2022 infraction for failing to wear a seat belt in Latah County, where the University of Idaho is located.
According to Jason LaBar, the attorney who represented Kohberger in Pennsylvania for his extradition, Kohberger’s father flew to Washington state and accompanied his son on a drive back to Pennsylvania for the holidays, which had been planned all along.
During the cross-country trip, the couple was stopped twice by police in Indiana, each time for following too closely. According to Indiana State Police and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, they were issued warnings during both traffic stops.
The body-camera footage from both stops, which show Bryan Kohberger driving a white Hyundai Elantra with Washington plates, has been released by police.
WHAT DO KOHBERGER’S FRIENDS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HIM?
Kohberger was “gregarious and outgoing,” according to one of his classmates at Washington State. Ben Roberts, a classmate, stated that Kohberger was “a little more eager” than others to present himself to people.
Kohberger, according to Roberts, would sit front and center in class and participate in every discussion — until the one about the Moscow homicides.
“He was completely silent,” said Roberts.
Other students told the Statesman that Kohberger “talked down to LGBTQ+ people, people from marginalized communities, people with disabilities, and women.” They also mentioned that Kohberger “believed in traditional marriage” and became visibly upset when a colleague hung a pride ally flag on their office door.
An ex-high school classmate told NBC’s “Dateline” and ABC’s “20/20” that Kohberger was overweight as a teen and that girls bullied him. Casey Arntz, a classmate, said she kept in touch with Kohberger after high school.
Hayden Stinchfield, a student of Kohberger’s at Washington State, told “Dateline” and “20/20” that Kohberger was unapproachable as a teaching assistant and would grade students harshly. Kohberger’s grading style became much more lenient in the final weeks of the semester, after Nov. 13, according to Stinchfield.
According to The New York Times, Washington State faculty ultimately decided to remove Kohberger from his position and remove his funding from the Ph.D. program.
Old friends of Kohberger’s from Pennsylvania also told the Statesman about his alleged heroin use in high school and after.
“I believe drugs did a lot of damage to him. “He was having a good time,” Jack Baylis, a high school friend of Kohberger’s, told the Statesman.
Among his friends, Baylis recalls Kohberger losing a lot of weight between his junior and senior years of high school. They claimed that Kohberger became so preoccupied with what he ate that he developed an eating disorder and had to be hospitalized.
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE KILLINGS WEEKEND?
On Sunday, Nov. 13, shortly before noon Pacific time, Moscow police officers responded to a 911 call about an unconscious person at a house near campus. They entered to discover the bodies of the four victims.
According to Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt, the students were stabbed to death in the early morning hours with a large, fixed-blade knife.
Kernodle, Mogen, and Goncalves were three female victims who lived at the King Road house during the fall semester with at least two other roommates, both of whom were unharmed.
The Statesman previously reported that all three female victims were current residents, but Kaylee’s mother, Kristi Goncalves, told NBC that her daughter had recently moved out and was returning for the weekend to see Mogen.
According to the family, Chapin was spending the night with Kernodle, whom he was dating.
According to the probable cause affidavit written by Moscow Police Cpl. Brett Payne, the stabbings most likely occurred between 4 and 4:25 a.m. Following interviews with the two surviving roommates, Moscow police arrived at this conclusion.
Autopsies revealed that all four students died as a result of multiple stab wounds. The autopsy also indicated that the victims were most likely asleep when the attacks began; according to Payne’s account, he discovered Kernodle and Chapin’s bodies on the second floor. The location is not specified in the affidavit. Kernodle had fallen to the ground.
Mogen and Goncalves were discovered sharing a bed in Mogen’s third-floor bedroom.
Some victims had defensive wounds, indicating that they had fought back against the attacker. According to the coroner, none of the victims displayed any signs of sexual assault.
Kristi Goncalves told NBC that she first heard about “something bad happening to Kaylee” from a relative with connections in Moscow. Goncalves stated that she remained calm until a deputy from the Sheriff’s Office arrived at her home and informed her of what had occurred.
WHAT DID THE SUSPECT DO BEFORE AND FOLLOWING THE STABBINGS?
Moscow police tracked Kohberger’s suspected activities before and after the stabbings using cellphone service data and security cameras installed throughout Moscow and Pullman.
Kohberger had visited the King Road area 12 times before the weekend of the killings, according to cellphone pings at nearby cellular towers, police say.
However, according to telecommunications expert and former electrical engineer Ben Levitan, who spoke with the Statesman, cellphone records can only provide an estimated location, not an exact location.
According to Levitan, the nearest cell tower to the King Road home covers an area of 27.3 square miles, so while cellphone data can show Kohberger switching between a Moscow and a Pullman tower, it doesn’t show his exact location.
According to police, Kohberger left his Pullman residence at 2:42 a.m. on November 13. A white Hyundai Elantra with no front license plate was spotted driving through Moscow at 3:28 a.m. A similar vehicle was seen driving past 1122 King Road several times between 3:29 a.m. and 4:04 a.m. on security footage.
The vehicle was seen speeding away from the King Road area around 4:20 a.m. According to surveillance footage and cellphone pings, the car traveled south to Genesee before turning west towards Uniontown, Washington, and then north again to Pullman.
According to cellphone data, Kohberger returned to the King Street area around 9:12 a.m. Later that day, he traveled to Clarkston, Washington, which is located just across the Snake River from Lewiston, which is located south of Moscow.
WHAT WERE THE VICTIMS UP TO BEFORE THE ATTACK?
Kernodle and Chapin were at a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house, which is less than a 600-foot walk from the King Road house, and returned home around 1:45 a.m. that Sunday, according to police.
Goncalves and Mogen spent the evening at the Corner Club bar before heading home via a food truck parked downtown. According to police, they used a “private party” to get home from the food truck. According to police, both women returned home around 1:56 a.m.
The ride-share driver who drove Goncalves and Mogen home the morning of the murders also spoke to two news outlets. According to NewsNation and The Daily Mail, the man, referred to by police as a “private party” in transporting the two young women home, agreed to speak with them on the condition of anonymity.
He said that he was familiar with Goncalves and Mogen, as well as Kernodle, from prior ride-share trips, and that he noticed “nothing out of the ordinary about that night,” according to The Daily Mail.
Multiple calls were made between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. from Goncalves’ and Mogen’s cellphones to a male who did not answer. According to The New York Times, Goncalves’ sister, Alivea Goncalves, said the calls were made to her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Her sister was well-known for making late-night phone calls, she claimed.
According to the surviving roommates, all five roommates and Chapin were home by 2 a.m. and in their rooms by 4 a.m., except for Kernodle, who received a DoorDash order around 4 a.m.
According to the police interview of surviving roommate Dylan Mortensen, she was awakened around 4 a.m. in her second-floor bedroom by what sounded like Goncalves playing with her dog in a room on the third floor. Mortensen also claimed to have heard someone say, “There’s someone here.” According to phone records, Kernodle was likely awake and using TikTok at 4:12 a.m.
Soon after, Mortensen reported hearing crying. When she opened her door, she noticed a figure in black walking past her and towards the sliding doors on the second floor. Mortensen described the model as “5-foot-10 or taller, male, not particularly muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows.” According to her, the man was wearing a mask over his mouth and nose.
WHAT ELSE DO THE POLICE HAVE?
A knife sheath was discovered at the crime scene by police. DNA was extracted from the knife sheath and sent to the Idaho State Laboratory, along with trash from Kohberger’s parent’s house in Pennsylvania, where he was arrested, according to the probable cause affidavit.
When the DNA on the sheath was compared to the DNA found in the trash, the test results “identified a male as not being excluded as the biological father” of the suspect. In particular, “at least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father,” according to the affidavit.
According to two unsealed search warrants, police also seized more than a dozen items from Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman. On December 30, police executed the warrant and seized a black rubber glove, a vacuum dust container, red-stained bedding, a desktop computer tower, an Amazon Fire TV Stick cord/plug, a Walmart sales receipt, two Marshalls department store receipts, and 13 possible hair strands.
In a statement seeking the warrant, Moscow Police Sgt. Dustin Blaker stated that blood from the crime scene at the King Road residence “likely transferred to Kohberger’s person, clothing, or shoes.”
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During Kohberger’s arrest in Pennsylvania, police seized dozens of items from his parent’s home and car. The search warrant stated that police were looking for any dark clothing, shoes with a diamond-patterned sole, items that could contain blood or bodily fluids, and any type of weapon.