Suspect in Idaho murders picked up in Monroe County
Times News Staff Reports
An Albrightsville man is in Monroe County Correctional Facility awaiting extradition in connection with the four Idaho college students who were murdered Nov. 13.
According to court documents, Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was picked up Friday by Pennsylvania State Police out of Hazleton and FBI.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Pennsylvania State Troopers Justin Leri and Brian Noll, the Pennsylvania State Police were assisting the Moscow Police Department (Moscow, Idaho), Idaho State Police, and Federal Bureau of Investigation with a criminal homicide investigation on Thursday.
Kohberger was taken into custody on Friday in Indian Mountain Lakes, Chestnuthill Township, based on the arrest warrant for murder in the first degree, issued through the Moscow Police Department and Latah County Prosecutor’s Office (Idaho), according to the troopers’ affidavit.
According to Times News archives, Kohberger graduated from DeSales University in 2020 with a degree in psychology and earned a master of arts in criminal justice from DeSales in May 2022. He was employed at Pleasant Valley School District as a security guard from 2018 to 2021.
A PhD student by the same name is listed in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, which is a short drive across the state line from the University of Idaho. Messages seeking more information were left for officials at Washington State.
The students, Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20; were likely asleep when they were each stabbed multiple times in the early hours of Nov. 13, authorities have said.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said investigators believe Kohberger broke into the students’ home “with the intent to commit murder.”
Kohberger is being held without bond in Monroe County and will be held without bond in Idaho once he is returned, Thompson said, and the affidavit for four charges of first-degree murder in Idaho will remain sealed until he is returned. He is also charged with felony burglary in Idaho, Thompson said.
An extradition hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Monroe County Court.
The case broke open after law enforcement asked the public for help finding a white Hyundai Elantra sedan seen near the home around the time of the killings. The Moscow Police Department made the request Dec. 7, and by the next day had to direct tips to a special FBI call center because so many were coming in. By mid-December, investigators were working through nearly 12,000 tips and had identified more than 22,000 vehicles matching that make and model.
“We are still looking for the weapon,” Moscow Police Department Police Chief James Fry said Friday at the news conference in Moscow, Idaho. “I will say that we have found an Elantra.”
Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, were members of the university’s Greek system and close friends. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in the three-story rental home with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating and he was visiting the house that night.
Fry was emotional as he announced the arrest, calling the victims by their first names. The chief has said in the past that everyone on the force feels strongly about solving the crime, at times choking up when discussing the impact on the victims’ families and the close-knit rural community.
Autopsies showed all four were likely asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault, police said.
Chief Fry said they’re still “putting all the pieces together” to determine motive.
Police said Thursday the rental home would be cleared of “potential biohazards and other harmful substances” to collect evidence starting Friday morning. It was unclear how long the work would take, but a news release said the house would be returned to the property manager upon completion.
Shanon Gray, an attorney representing Goncalves’s father, Steve Goncalves, said law enforcement officials called the family last night to let them know about the arrest, but gave no additional information about how or why they believe he might be connected to the murders.
“Obviously they’re relieved that someone has been arrested,” Gray said. “You guys know about as much as we do right now.”
Ben Roberts, a graduate student in the criminology and criminal justice department at WSU, described Kohberger as confident and outgoing, but said it seemed like “he was always looking for a way to fit in.”
“It’s pretty out of left field,” he said of the news Friday. “I had honestly just pegged him as being super awkward.”
Roberts started the program in August - along with Kohberger, he said - and had several courses with him. He described Kohberger as wanting to appear academic.
“One thing he would always do, almost without fail, was find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said. “He had to make sure you knew that he knew it.”
The stabbing deaths shook the small town of Moscow, Idaho, a farming community of about 25,000 people - including roughly 11,000 students - tucked in the rolling hills of northern Idaho’s Palouse region.
The case also enticed online sleuths who speculated about potential suspects and motives. In the early days of the investigation, police released relatively few details publicly.
Fears of a repeat attack prompted nearly half of the University of Idaho students to switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester, abandoning dorms and apartments in the normally bucolic town for the perceived safety of their hometowns. Safety concerns also had the university hiring an additional security firm to escort students across campus and the Idaho State Police sending troopers to help patrol the city’s streets.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.