CNN

Idaho student killings suspect ‘eager to be exonerated of these charge,’ police say

Dec 31, 2022, 11:30 AM | Updated: 2:23 pm

Flowers and stuffed animals are lined up outside the University of Idaho to pay tribute to four stu...

Flowers and stuffed animals are lined up outside the University of Idaho to pay tribute to four students who were killed in a gruesome attack Nov. 13, at a house near campus. (Angela Palermo/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service/Gettyimages)

(Angela Palermo/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service/Gettyimages)

(CNN) — Authorities carefully tracked the man charged in the killings of four Idaho college students as he drove across the country around Christmas and continued surveilling him for several days before finally arresting him Friday, sources tell CNN.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in his home state of Pennsylvania and charged with four counts of murder in the first degree, as well as felony burglary in connection with the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students in November, according to Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson.

Still, investigators have not publicly confirmed the suspect’s motive or whether he knew the victims. The murder weapon has also not been located, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Friday.

In the nearly seven weeks since the students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home, investigators have conducted more than 300 interviews and scoured approximately 20,000 tips in their search for the suspect. News of the killings — and the long stretch of time without a suspect or significant developments — have rattled the University of Idaho community and the surrounding town of Moscow, which had not seen a murder in seven years.

Investigators honed in on Kohberger as the suspect through DNA evidence and by confirming his ownership of a white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene, according to two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.

Kohberger, who authorities say lived just minutes from the scene of the killings, is a PhD student in Washington State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, the school confirmed.

He drove cross-country in a white Hyundai Elantra and arrived at his parents’ house in Pennsylvania around Christmas, according to a law enforcement source. Authorities were tracking him as he drove and were also surveilling his parents’ house, the source said.

An FBI surveillance team tracked him for four days before his arrest while law enforcement worked with prosecutors to develop enough probable cause to obtain a warrant, the two law enforcement sources said.

Genetic genealogy techniques were used to connect Kohberger to unidentified DNA evidence, another source with knowledge of the case tells CNN. The DNA was run through a public database to find potential family member matches, and subsequent investigative work by law enforcement led to him as the suspect, the source said.

What happens next

Kohberger was arraigned Friday morning in Pennsylvania and is being held without bail, records show.

Kohberger intends to waive his extradition hearing to expedite his transport to Idaho, Monroe County Chief Public Defender Jason LaBar said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.

“Mr. Kohberger is eager to be exonerated of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as promptly as possible,” LaBar said.

LaBar later told CNN that the extradition hearing is a “formality proceeding.” He said all the Commonwealth needs to prove is that his client resembles or is the person on the arrest warrant and that he was in the area at the time of the crime.

LaBar said he spoke to Kohberger for around an hour Friday evening, discussing where he was at the time of the killings. “Knowing of course that it’s likely they have location data from his cell phone already putting him on the border of Washington and Idaho,” LaBar told CNN, “it was an easy decision obviously, since he doesn’t contest that he is Bryan Kohberger.”

Even with a suspect charged, law enforcement’s work is far from over, prosecutors said.

“This is not the end of this investigation. In fact, this is a new beginning,” Thompson said Friday night.

Thompson urged people to continue submitting tips, asking anyone with information about the suspect “to come forward, call the tip line, report anything you know about him to help the investigators.”

Since the killings of the four students — Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 some community members have grown frustrated as investigators have yet to offer a thorough narrative of how the night unfolded. Authorities have released limited details, including the victims’ activities leading up to the attacks and people they have ruled out as suspects.

Fry told reporters Friday state law limits what information authorities can release before Kohberger makes an initial appearance in Idaho court. The probable cause affidavit — which details the factual basis of Kohberger’s charges — is sealed until the suspect is physically in Latah County, Idaho and has been served with the Idaho arrest warrant, Thompson said.

What we know about the suspect

Kohberger is a resident of Pullman, Washington, a city just about nine miles from the site of the killings, authorities said. His apartment and office on the Washington State University’s Pullman campus were searched by law enforcement Friday morning, the university confirmed in a statement.

In June 2022, he finished graduate studies at DeSales University, where he also was an undergraduate, according to a statement on the school’s website. He also got an associate degree from Northampton Community College in 2018, the college confirmed to CNN.

In a Reddit post removed after Kohberger’s arrest was announced, a student investigator named Bryan Kohberger who was associated with a DeSales University study sought participation in a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime.”

“In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience,” the post said.

CNN reached one of the principal investigators of the study, a professor at DeSales University, but they declined to comment on the matter. The university has not responded to requests for comment.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

CNN

Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry, from Virginia, were spending the winter cruising the Eastern Caribb...

Sharif Paget, Chris Boyette and Polo Sandoval, CNN

2 Americans believed dead after yacht allegedly hijacked in Grenada

The family of two Americans who may have been killed after prison escapees allegedly hijacked their yacht in Granada are clinging to hope the couple might be found alive.

17 hours ago

Placards bearing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza are lifted during a rally calling for t...

Camila DeChalus, Sam Fossum and Alex Marquardt, CNN

US says ‘understanding’ reached at Gaza hostage talks but negotiations continue

Negotiators have come to an “understanding” on the broad contours of a potential deal to release hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN Sunday.

18 hours ago

Migrants walk along the US-Mexico border wall after crossing the Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas, fr...

Priscilla Alvarez, Camila DeChalus and Alison Main, CNN

Migrant crisis looms over governors’ gathering at the White House

The record level of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border loomed over a gathering of governors at the White House this weekend, revealing how the issue has become prominent in states nationwide and across the political spectrum.

21 hours ago

Margot Robbie arrives at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on February 24. (Jordan Stra...

Alex Rees, CNN. Photo editor: Jennifer Arnow, CNN

See the best looks from the 2024 SAG Awards red carpet

Stars from the past year’s biggest movies and TV shows walked the Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet on February 24. See all the best looks here.

21 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event J...

Gregory Krieg, CNN

Trump will win South Carolina primary, CNN projects, as he closes in on the Republican nomination

Former President Donald Trump will win South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, CNN projects, further tightening his grip on the nomination and leaving his last remaining major rival Nikki Haley to consider her dwindling options.

2 days ago

The defendants are accused of stealing software used to train Apache helicopter pilots....

Haley Britzky and Sharif Paget, CNN

2 National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in Mississippi

Two National Guard members died after a helicopter crashed Friday afternoon during a training flight in northeast Mississippi.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Idaho student killings suspect ‘eager to be exonerated of these charge,’ police say