CNN

A timeline of the killings of four University of Idaho students

Nov 13, 2023, 3:51 PM

In June, University of Idaho killings suspect Bryan Kohberger had a hearing at the Latah County Cou...

In June, University of Idaho killings suspect Bryan Kohberger had a hearing at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow, Idaho. (August Frank, Pool/Reuters)

(August Frank, Pool/Reuters)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect developments in the case.

(CNN) — The killings of four University of Idaho students in an off-campus home in Moscow in November 2022 were as brutal as they were perplexing.

The group of friends had gone out in the college town and returned to their shared home late. The next day, police found the four students slaughtered inside, and there were no signs of forced entry or damage.

The slayings led to weeks of investigation from police, frustrations from the victims’ families about the pace of the policework and fear in the local community of a mass killer on the loose.

Nearly two months later, Moscow Police arrested a 28-year-old man in Pennsylvania on a murder warrant in the killings of the four students. The man, Bryan Kohberger, lived in Pullman, Washington, and was a graduate student studying criminal justice. A judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf and he’s now being held in the Latah County Jail without bail. A trial date has yet to be set.

The lurid case has riveted the public, but police have not released a potential motive, and a sweeping gag order has kept the parties from speaking publicly or revealing further details.

CNN put together a timeline showing what we know about the victims’ final hours, how police came to focus on the suspect and the progress of the court case in the year since the killings took place.

Saturday, Nov. 12

Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were students at the University of Idaho who lived at a nearby off-campus residence in Moscow, a college town of about 25,000 people.

They had two other roommates in the three-floor, six-bedroom apartment.

Goncalves posted a series of photos on her Instagram at some point with the caption, “one lucky girl to be surrounded by these ppl everyday.” One of the photos shows Mogen sitting on Goncalves’ shoulders, with Chapin and Kernodle standing next to them.

That night, Chapin and Kernodle went to a party on campus, and Mogen and Goncalves went to a downtown bar, police said.

Sunday, Nov. 13

Mogen and Goncalves ordered at a late-night food truck at about 1:41 a.m., the food truck’s live Twitch stream shows.

They ordered $10 worth of carbonara from the Grub Truckers and waited for about 10 minutes for their food. As they waited, they could be seen chatting with each other and with other people standing by the truck.

The two students did not seem to be in distress or in danger in any way, said Joseph Woodall, 26, who manages the truck.

Chapin and Kernodle are believed to have returned home around 1:45 a.m., and Goncalves and Mogen used a private party for a ride home at about 1:56 a.m., according to police.

One of the surviving roommates, identified in court paperwork as “D.M.,” told investigators she “heard crying” in the house the morning of the killings and heard a voice say “it’s ok, I’m going to help you.”

She then saw a “figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her,” the affidavit said.

“D.M. described the figure as 5’10” or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows. The male walked past D.M. as she stood in a ‘frozen shock phase,’” court documents reveal.

“The male walked towards the back sliding glass door. D.M. locked herself in her room after seeing the male,” the document says, adding the roommate did not recognize the male.

Statements by “the surviving witness and other evidence leads investigators to believe the homicides occurred between 4:00 a.m. and 4:25 a.m.,” according to court documents.

The two roommates at the home who were not injured woke up later in the morning and summoned friends to the home because they believed one of the victims had passed out and was not waking up. A call to 911 was made just before noon about an unconscious person at the residence, police said.

Arriving officers found the door to the residence open and discovered the bodies of four fatally stabbed students.

“It was a pretty traumatic scene to find four dead college students in a residence,” Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt later told CNN affiliate KXLY.

There was no sign of forced entry or damage, police said.

Officers investigate a homicide at an apartment complex south of the University of Idaho campus on November 13.

Phone records indicate Kohberger’s phone was near the students’ home between 9:12 a.m. and 9:21 a.m. – hours after Kohberger allegedly killed the university students, court documents say.

Moscow Police issued a statement saying four people were found dead in a home off campus. University of Idaho President Scott Green announced the four victims were students and canceled classes Monday.

Monday, Nov. 14

Moscow Police issued a statement identifying the four homicide victims as Chapin, Goncalves, Kernodle and Mogen.

Police said details were limited and no one was in custody. They added Moscow police did “not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation.”

Moscow Mayor Art Bettge released a statement calling the deaths “senseless acts of violence.” Bettge said only limited information could be shared without “jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation.”

Green issued a statement offering condolences to the victims’ families and the community.

“Moscow police do not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation, however, we ask our employees to be empathetic, flexible and to work with our students who desire to return home to spend time with their families,” he said.

Tuesday, Nov. 15

Moscow Police issued a statement saying an “edged weapon such as a knife” was used in the killings. No suspects were in custody and no murder weapon had been found, police said.

“Also, based on information from the preliminary investigation, investigators believe this was an isolated, targeted attack and there is no imminent threat to the community at large,” police said.

Later in the day, police released another statement, attempting to calm fears of a killer on the loose.

“We hear you, and we understand your fears,” police said. “We determined early in the investigation that we do not believe there is an ongoing threat for community members. Evidence indicates that this was a targeted attack.”

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Police Chief Fry held a news conference – the department’s first in the case – and reiterated there was no suspect. He also backtracked on the assurances of no one at risk.

“We cannot say there’s no threat to the community,” Fry said. “And as we have stated, please stay vigilant, report any suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.”

Two other roommates were home at the time of the attack and were not injured, Fry said.

“There was other people home at that time, but we’re not just focusing just on them, we’re focusing on everybody that may be coming and going from that residence,” he said.

Friday, Nov. 18

Five days after the students’ deaths, Kohberger received a new license plate for his white Hyundai Elantra, court documents reveal.

The Washington State Department of licensing provided CNN a redacted copy of a vehicle record which included a license plate number matching what is described as the new license plate in the court documents.

Detectives by then had conducted 38 interviews with people “who may have information” about the killings and had taken the contents of three dumpsters near the house in case they held evidence, they said.

Investigators also asked local businesses if there had been any recent purchases of a “fixed-blade knife,” according to the police update.

Investigators released a map depicting the movements of four University of Idaho students the night they were killed.

Hoping for tips from the community, investigators released a map and timeline of the victims’ movements. The map shows the four students spent most of the night separated in pairs.

The victims were “likely asleep” before they were attacked, police said.

The victims were found on the second and third floors of their home, Idaho State Police spokesperson Aaron Snell told CNN.

Mabbutt, the coroner, told CNN she saw “lots of blood on the wall” when she arrived at the scene. She confirmed there were multiple stab wounds on each body – likely from the same weapon – but would not disclose how many wounds nor where most were located.

Sunday, Nov. 20

One week after the bodies of the four students were discovered, authorities still had no suspect or weapon, Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier said.

Police had fielded 646 tips and conducted more than 90 interviews, Police Chief Fry said at a news conference.

Fry declined to identify who placed the 911 call from the home where the students were slain, saying only the call came from the phone of one of the surviving roommates. He wouldn’t confirm which one placed the call.

There were other “friends that had arrived at the location,” Fry said, adding the person who called 911 is not a suspect.

Tuesday, Nov. 22

Moscow Police said they have looked extensively into information suggesting Goncalves had a stalker, but they have not been able to verify or identify one.

Tuesday, Nov. 29

A Washington State University officer located a 2015 white Hyundai Elantra registered to Kohberger in an apartment complex parking lot, and officials were able to zero in on Kohberger because his driver’s license information and photograph were consistent with the roommate’s description.

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Moscow Police release a list of people who they believe are not involved in the crime, including the two surviving roommates, a man in the Grub Truck surveillance video, the private party driver who took Goncalves and Mogen home, the man Goncalves and Mogen called numerous times the night they were killed and any person at the home when 911 was called.

A series of comments from law enforcement officials added further confusion to the investigation.

Thompson, the Latah County prosecutor, said at least one of the victims was “undoubtedly targeted” in the attack.

Soon after, Moscow Police said they spoke with Thompson and affirmed his comments were a miscommunication. “Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate,” police said, appearing to backtrack on earlier statements.

Police then had to further clarify they believe the attack was indeed “targeted,” but investigators have not concluded if the target was the residence or its occupants.

Monday, Dec. 5

Regarding Goncalves’ possibly having a stalker, police said investigators identified an incident in October in which two men were seen at a business and one man appeared to follow Goncalves inside and as she exited to her car. The man did not make contact with her.

Investigators contacted both men and learned they were trying to meet women at this business. Detectives said they believe this was an isolated incident and not a pattern of stalking and said there was no evidence to suggest the men were involved in the killings.

Wednesday, Dec. 7

Investigators said they are interested in speaking with the occupant or occupants of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra spotted near the crime scene around the time of the killings.

“Investigators believe the occupant(s) of this vehicle may have critical information to share regarding this case,” the police statement said, noting it had an unknown license plate.

In addition, Moscow police began returning some of the personal belongings of the four victims to the their families, officials said.

“It’s time for us to give those things back that really mean something to those families and hopefully to help with some of their healing,” Police Chief Fry said in a brief video statement.

“I’m a dad, I understand the meaning behind some of those things,” Fry said. The items being removed are “no longer needed for the investigation,” the police department said.

Friday, Dec. 9

Moscow police said they have received an overwhelming number of tips related to their search for a white sedan seen near the crime scene around the time of the killings.

Investigators were working through more than 6,000 tips they have received over the course of the investigation, Idaho State Police spokesperson Aaron Snell told CNN.

Due to the number of tips received, calls were being directed to an FBI call center to help sort leads received, police said.

Monday, Dec. 12

Moscow Police explained why they have not released more details about the case.

“We are still 100% committed to solving this crime,” Moscow Police Capt. Lanier said in a video update on the investigation.

“We’re not releasing specific details because we do not want to compromise this investigation. It’s what we must do. We owe that to the families, and we owe that to the victims. We want more than just an arrest, we want a conviction,” Lanier said.

Lanier’s remarks came as hundreds of University of Idaho students were taking final exams the week before the fall semester ends.

“Our analysts have spent hours sorting through and trying to come up with the most relevant tips first for the investigators to follow up on. They have reinterviewed some of the folks we’ve interviewed earlier in this investigation to clarify information,” Lanier said.

Thursday, Dec. 15

Kristi Goncalves, the mother of 21-year-old victim Kaylee Goncalves, expressed frustration over police communications on the status of the investigation into the killings in an interview aired on NBC’s “Today” show.

“It’s sleepless nights. It’s feeling sick to your stomach. It’s just being left in the dark,” Goncalves said in the interview.

Goncalves also recounted the day she learned something had happened to her daughter.

“We’re running around for hours just not knowing what was going on, what happened,” she said. “… We found out by people calling us. And the sheriff showed up about three hours later.”

Goncalves described learning about the police interest in a white Hyundai sedan seen in the area around the time of the stabbings not from investigators, but from reading about it in a news release sent to her by someone else.

“My first thought just started being like, how long have they had this information? Where do they get this information? Was it on a camera?” Goncalves said.

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Trash recovered from the Kohberger family residence by Pennsylvania law enforcement and sent to the Idaho State Lab for DNA testing was used to help investigators narrow down Bryan Kohberger as the suspect in the Idaho killings, according to court documents released on January 5.

The next day “the Idaho State Lab reported that a DNA profile obtained from the trash” matched a tan leather knife sheath found “laying on the bed” of one of the victims, according to the documents.

“On December 28, 2022, the Idaho State Lab reported that a DNA profile obtained from the trash and the DNA profile obtained from the sheath, identified a male as not being excluded as the biological father of Suspect Profile,” the document says.

“At least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father.”

Thursday, Dec. 29

Police said they have received about 20,000 tips through more than 9,025 emails, 4,575 phone calls, and 6,050 digital media submissions, while having conducted over 300 interviews in the case of the four students slain in an off-campus home.

The home where the killings took place will be cleaned up but remain an active crime scene under police control, authorities said.

Moscow police said they have worked with a property management services company to remove “potential biohazards and other harmful substances used to collect evidence,” the update said. The home will be turned over to the property management company.

Friday, Dec. 30

Kohberger, a 28-year-old graduate student at Washington State University, was arrested for the killings in his home state of Pennsylvania, authorities said.

He was charged in a criminal complaint with four counts of murder in the first degree and felony burglary. He resides in Pullman, Washington, about nine miles from the site of the crime, and was a graduate student in the university’s criminal justice program.

Kohberger is the owner of the white Hyundai Elantra seen in the area of the killings, law enforcement sources told CNN. His DNA was also matched to genetic material recovered at the off-campus house where the killings took place, sources told CNN.

Fry said police will aim to prove as much information they can about the extradition to Idaho and the criminal process, but due to Idaho state law they are limited in the information they can share until the suspect has his initial appearance in an Idaho court.

Tuesday, Jan. 3

In an extradition hearing in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Kohberger agreed to be extradited to Idaho. The judge ordered that he must be handed over to the custody of Latah County District Attorney’s Office in Idaho within 10 days.

Thursday, Jan. 5

Kohberger made his initial appearance in court at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow, Idaho on Jan. 5.

Kohberger smiled at his public defender when he walked into the courtroom and did not appear to made eye contact with anyone else throughout the entire proceeding, including family members of victims who were crying in the first row.

Steve Goncalves, whose daughter Kaylee Goncalves was one of the victims, was with his wife and other relatives in the front row, a CNN team in the courtroom reported, adding family members were seen staring at Kohberger throughout the hearing.

A no contact order for the victims’ family members and the surviving roommates for two years was requested by the prosecutor and upheld by the judge.

After Kohberger’s court appointed attorney Anne Chere Taylor requested a review of bail and prosecutor Bill Thompson argued no bail should be upheld, the magistrate judge presiding over the case upheld no bail for the alleged murderer.

Thursday, March 2

Court documents unsealed in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, revealed a cache of items seized from Kohberger’s parents’ home shortly after he was arrested. The items included “medical style” gloves, a silver flashlight, a black sweatshirt, black socks and a pair of size 13 Nike shoes.

An evidence log also revealed investigators took knives, a cell phone, black gloves, black masks, laptops, dark-colored clothes and dark shoes, brown boots and New Balance shoes. The knives included a Smith and Wesson pocket knife and a knife in a leather sheath.

Criminology books – including one titled, “criminal psychology” – and notebooks also were seized, along with a shop-vac and personal documents, the log shows.

Wednesday, May 17

A grand jury indicted Kohberger on murder and burglary charges. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

Monday, May 22

An Idaho judge entered not guilty pleas on Kohberger’s behalf. He remained silent when the judge asked him for his plea to each of the murder and burglary charges.

Friday, June 16

Prosecutors filed a court document stating Kohberger’s DNA was a “statistical match” with DNA found on the knife used in the stabbings and found at the crime scene. The filing said an “STR” analysis – or short tandem repeat analysis – was used to compare the two samples.

Sunday, June 22

Kohberger’s attorney Jay Logsdon submitted a court filing arguing that “there is no connection between Mr. Kohberger and the victims.”

“There is no explanation for the total lack of DNA evidence from the victims in Mr. Kohberger’s apartment, office, home, or vehicle,” the attorney continued.

Friday, June 23

A judge denied two motions to either remove the gag order or be exempt from it. The judge said the case against Kohberger is high profile and he has a duty to not jeopardize his right to a fair trial.

Monday, June 26

Prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty for Kohberger.

Wednesday, Aug. 2

Kohberger’s attorneys said they would use an alibi defense for their client but that they weren’t able to pin down his specific location on the night of the killings because he was “driving during the late night and early morning hours.”

“Mr. Kohberger is not claiming to be at a specific location at a specific time; at this time there is not a specific witness to say precisely where Mr. Kohberger was at each moment of the hours” of the attacks, said his attorneys in a court filing.

Wednesday, Aug. 23

Judge John Judge agreed to delay Kohberger’s trial, which was initially set to start on Oct. 2. Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial. A new trial date has not yet been set.

Wednesday, Aug. 23

Kohberger’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against him, according to court records. They cited a biased grand jury, inadmissible evidence, lack of sufficient evidence and prosecutorial misconduct by withholding exculpatory evidence.

Thursday, Sept. 28

Prosecutors demanded customer information from Amazon related to the purchase of knives as part of their investigation, according to unsealed court documents.

Thursday, Oct. 26

The judge denied one of two requests to dismiss the indictment against Kohberger. The judge’s decision regarding the other request is yet to be released.

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A timeline of the killings of four University of Idaho students