Suspect faces 4 murder charges in Idaho killings, police say
(NewsNation) — A suspect was arrested Friday morning in connection with the brutal November stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in the early hours of Friday in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, where he is being held while awaiting extradition. His detainment is based on an active arrest warrant from Latah County, Idaho, where he faces four counts of first-degree murder and a felony burglary charge in connection with the November killings.
On Nov. 13, four University of Idaho students — 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and 20-year-old Ethan Chapin — were found dead in a Moscow, Idaho rental home near campus.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said the factual basis for Kohberger’s charges is laid out in the probable cause affidavit, which under state law must remain sealed until Kohberger is extradited to Latah County and officially served the warrant.
Sources confirmed to NewsNation that Kohberger was on suicide watch in the Pennsylvania jail where he was being held and had asked officers at one point whether anyone else was arrested. Sources said Kohberger has had a “quiet, blank stare” throughout the process.
Kohberger has a scheduled extradition hearing for Jan.3 in Monroe County, but plans to waive it to expedite his transport to Idaho, Jason Allen LaBar, the chief public defender in Monroe County, said.
“He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise — not tried in the court of public opinion. One should not pass judgment about the facts of the case unless and until a fair trial in court, at which time all sides may be heard and inferences challenged,” LaBar said. “Mr. Kohberger is eager to be exonerated of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as promptly as possible.”
The mysterious circumstances surrounding the four deaths sparked fear in the small community and nationwide interest from true crime enthusiasts. There were many baseless accusations made and rumors that spread online, which police tried to debunk.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Friday during a news conference that his department had combed through 19,000 tips and interviewed 300 people over the course of their investigation.
While police have not yet found the weapon used in the stabbings, Fry said they located a Hyundai Elantra that had previously been named a vehicle of interest in the case, which led to police examining 22,000 cars with similar descriptions during their investigation.
Officials asked that people continue to use the tipline to provide tips now that a suspect has been named. (Scroll to the bottom for tipline information).
Police said Kohberger had an apartment in Pullman, Washington where he is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. The town is about 10 miles away, across state lines, from Moscow.
On Friday night, NewsNation’s Nancy Loo reported that investigators left the suspect’s apartment after more than 12 hours of searching and processing evidence. Multiple bags, boxes and a computer were removed from the house and loaded into the back of a vehicle. It’s unclear if authorities are looking for digital evidence against the suspect.
Loo also noticed that yellow tape was taken down from the house. NewsNation’s Brian Entin revealed that the Pennsylvania house where the suspect was arrested had a broken window near the door after authorities left.
The university in a statement said Kohberger completed his first semester there “earlier this month.”
“On behalf of the WSU Pullman community, I want to offer my sincere thanks to all of the law enforcement agencies that have been working tirelessly to solve this crime,” said Elizabeth Chilton, chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus and WSU provost. “This horrific act has shaken everyone in the Palouse region.”
Court records revealed Kohberger had received a minor traffic violation in August in Latah County, where Moscow is located. He paid a fine for that violation in September. While there is no known connection between that violation and the November deaths, it indicates Kohberger had visited the county in the past.
Friday, cleaning crews were at the Moscow home where they were scheduled to clean up the home and remove furniture. Crews were in place and a tarp was set up to block the view of crew activities from the public.
However, Friday morning, NewsNation saw that the work was abruptly stopped at the home, soon after news broke of Kohberg’s arrest. Fry said in the news conference that “house cleanup has been halted and that came by a legal request from the court.”
Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle were roommates and Chapin was in a relationship with Kernodle at the time of their deaths. All four died from stab wounds and were likely asleep at the time of the attack, according to preliminary findings by a county coroner.
Police say there were no signs of forced entry when they arrived to find a bloody and gruesome scene.
“It was a pretty traumatic scene to find four dead college students in a residence,” Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told a local TV station.
If you have information that could be helpful to law enforcement, you can contact them at their Tip Line: 208-883-7180, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to fbi.gov/moscowidaho.
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