Suspect Arrested in Idaho Student Murders Staked Out Their Home, Police Affidavit Says - DMT NEWS

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Suspect Arrested in Idaho Student Murders Staked Out Their Home, Police Affidavit Says

The man accused of brutally murdering four students from the University of Idaho visited the area surrounding his victims’ home at least a dozen times in the months prior to the attack, according to a police affidavit made public Thursday. 

Moscow, Idaho Police Officer Brett Payne says he obtained cell phone tower data for the area surrounding the off-campus housing where Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Megan Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, were found stabbed to death on Nov. 13. 

A cellphone belonging to 28-year-old PhD student Bryan Kohberger pinged towers in the vicinity of that residence at least twelve times between August and November, typically in the middle of the night, said Payne. 

Kohberger, who began studying criminology at Washington State University in August — about nine miles from Moscow, Idaho — was arrested in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 30, following a seven week-long investigation that many had feared was going cold. 

On Thursday, Kohberger appeared in court for an initial hearing, having been extradited from his home state of Pennsylvania. 

Law enforcement had been criticized repeatedly, including by some of the victims’ parents, for being so tight-lipped about the status of the investigation. Investigators initially characterized the nature of the attack as “isolated” and “targeted,” and assured the community of Moscow, Idaho, that there was no risk to the public—despite not having a suspect in custody, nor having recovered the murder weapon. Moscow’s mayor, in an interview with the New York Times, described the murders as a “crime of passion,” an assessment that police later downplayed. (Moscow Police Chief James Fry recently gave an emotional interview to NBC News, where he teared up and expressed regret over his lack of transparency during the investigation, and acknowledged he could have done more to quell anxieties.) 

In the absence of tangible publicly available information, questions and conspiracy theories swirled. Some members of the vociferous online sleuth community even pointed fingers at two surviving roommates, questioning how they could have possibly “slept through” the sounds of a grisly quadruple murder. 

But one of the biggest revelations from the affidavit is that one of the surviving roommates actually saw the suspect in the house that night. 

All four victims had been out partying earlier. Mogen and Goncalves had gone out to a bar and then stopped for late night food on the way home. They got home at around 2 a.m. Chapin (who lived elsewhere) and Kernodle had been at a frat party on campus, and came home around 1:45 a.m. Everyone was in their rooms or asleep by 4 a.m., the roommates told investigators, with the exception of Kernodle, who received a DoorDash food delivery at that time. 

One of the roommates, identified as D.M., told investigators that she woke up at around 4 a.m. to what sounded like Goncalves playing with her dog in one of the upstairs bedrooms. 

Shortly after, she thought she heard Goncalves say something along the lines of “there’s someone here.” (Investigators noted that Kernodle was also watching TikToksat 4:12 a.m., and that could have been what D.M. was hearing — previous residents of that home have described it as “old” and” creaky.”) D.M. said she opened her bedroom door, but couldn’t see or hear anything. 

A short while after, she heard what sounded like crying coming from Kernodle’s room, and then a male voice saying something like, “it’s OK, I’m going to help you.” She opened her door again. 

At around 4:17 a.m., a security camera located at a residence fifty feet from Kernodle’s bedroom, picked up “distorted audio” of what sounded like “voices or a whimper followed by a loud thud.” It also picked up the sounds of a dog barking several times. D.M. said she opened her door for a third time, and saw “a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her.” She described that figure as athletically built, around 5”10, with “bushy eyebrows,” and did not recognize him. She said she stood in a “frozen shock phase,” and the man walked toward the back sliding glass door of the house. She locked the door to her bedroom. 

Police think the murders took place between 4:00 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. At the crime scene, Payne said he recovered what appeared to be a “tan leather knife sheath” lying on the bed next to victim Mogen’s right side. The sheath featured insignia from the U.S. Marine corps. The state lab determined that there was a single source of male DNA left on the button snap of the sheath. 

According to the affidavit, Kohberger was on investigators’ radar as early as Nov. 29, after an FBI forensic expert identified a car spotted on surveillance footage near the crime scene as a 2011-2016 white Hyundai Elantra, and later seen in Pullman, Washington where Kohberger resided in student housing. 

An officer from Washington State University searched all white Elantra’s registered there, and pulled up a vehicle registered in Pennsylvania to Kohberger. He’d been part of two traffic stops, in August and October. Five days after the murders, he registered his car in Washington and received the appropriate plates. 

Officers located that car parked near student housing. They also pulled up Kohberger’s Washington state driver license and photograph, which matched the description of him from one of the surviving roommates. 

They had Kohberger in their sights, and yet two weeks later, he left Washington. His father, Michael, had traveled to Pullman to visit his son, and the plan was for the two of them to drive home to Pennsylvania for Christmas in that same white Elantra. 

His license plate was picked up by a reader in Loma, Colorado, on Dec. 13, 2022, and two days later, he was pulled over twice by police in Hancock County, Indiana, in a 10-minute stretch for tailgating. 

On Dec. 27, agents in Pennsylvania recovered trash from the Kohberger residence in Albrightsville and sent it to the Idaho State Lab for testing. The DNA in the trash suggested that whoever lived there was the biological father of whoever had left DNA on the knife sheath discovered at the crime scene. 

Payne put out the arrest warrant on Dec. 29.  Kohberger was taken into custody the following day and charged with the murders of Mogen, Kernodle, Goncalves, and Chapin. When he appeared in court in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, he asserted that he did not suffer from mental health issues and waived extradition, meaning he consented to be tried in Idaho. He arrived at Pullman-Moscow regional airport on Wednesday. 

Authorities have not yet released a motive in the killings, and in his interview with NBC, Chief Fry said he was shielded by law for what he could disclose publicly to that end. It’s unclear why Kohberger allegedly targeted that particular residence or those students. As yet police had been unable to verify reports that Goncalves had a stalker. The owner of a local vape store recently told NewsNation that Goncalves’ stalker followed her in person, and that she was “terrified” of him. 

Since Kohberger’s arrest, reports have trickled out indicating that he had a history of being “creepy.” The owner of a brewery he used to frequent in Pennsylvania said that he’d often ask very personal questions of women, including where they live, and “would get upset with them a little bit” if they blew him off. The owner told NBC that he had to warn Kohberger about his conduct following complaints from some of his employees.



via https://www.DMT.NEWS

Tess Owen, Khareem Sudlow