Suspect arrested in connection with U of I slayings

This photo provided by Monroe County (Pa.) Correctional Facility to the Associated Press shows Bryan Kohberger. Arrest paperwork filed by Pennsylvania State Police in Monroe County Court Friday said Kohberger was being held for extradition in a criminal homicide investigation in the killings of four University of Idaho students, based on an active arrest warrant for first-degree murder issued by the Moscow Police Department and Latah County Prosecutor’s Office.

(UPDATED, 3:36 p.m., with details from Friday’s news conference.)

A Washington State University student has been arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with the Nov. 13 slayings of four University of Idaho students.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountain region; according to ABC News, he was arrested at a location where he’d been staying. Kohberger appeared in a Pennsylvania court Friday morning, and faces four first-degree murder charges and a charge of felony burglary, stemming from the break-in and stabbing spree at a house near the U of I campus.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson

According to a Monroe County, Pa., court document, Kohberger was being held for extradition to Idaho on the murder warrant. He is being held without bond in Pennsylvania, and has been appointed a public defender, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said during a news conference Friday.

An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. If Kohberger does not waive extradition, Idaho authorities will begin the extradition process through the governor’s office, Thompson said.

About the suspect

Kohberger lives in Pullman, Wash. — the home to Washington State University, located about eight miles from the U of I’s Moscow campus.

The Associated Press reported Friday morning on Kohberger’s connection to Washington State, where he was a doctoral student in the department of criminal justice and criminology. Kohberger is also identified as a teaching assistant in the criminal justice and criminology graduate program, according to Washington State’s website, found through an Idaho Education News online search.

The U of I has no records linking Kohberger to the university, President C. Scott Green said in a memo to students and employees Friday.

While Kohberger lived in Pullman, the Monroe County, Pa., court document lists Kohberger’s place of residence as Albrightsville, Pa.

Kohberger received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 from DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., completing graduate studies at the university in June. “As a Catholic, Salesian community, we are devastated by this senseless tragedy,” the university said in a statement Friday.

According to the Times News in Lehighton, Pa., Kohberger was employed as a security guard at Pennsylvania’s Pleasant Valley School District from 2018 to 2021.

About Friday’s arrest

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Thompson, Moscow Police Chief James Fry and Idaho State Police director Kedrick Wills released only a few details about the arrest, saying the court proceedings will dictate what they can and cannot say publicly.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t get out ahead of that process,” Wills said.

Madison Mogen and Xana Kernodle

Many factual details about the arrest — and the evidence against Kohberger — are contained in a probable cause affidavit. That document will remain sealed until Kohberger is served with an Idaho arrest warrant, Thompson said. “Please have patience with us on that.”

Fry declined to discuss a possible motive for the slayings. He said police are continuing to search for the weapon used in the fatal stabbing. He also said police have recovered “an Elantra” — a reference to a 2011-2013 white Hyundai Elantra, which has been linked to the crime scene in the early morning hours of Nov. 13. Fry did not elaborate on where the car was recovered.

But Fry indicated that police believe Kohberger acted alone.

“We have an individual in custody,” Fry said. “I do believe our community is safe.”

‘We never lost faith that this crime would be solved’

Friday’s arrest comes 47 days after the four U of I students were found dead in an off-campus house. The victims — Ethan Chapin, 20, a freshman from Mount Vernon, Wash.; Kaylee Goncalves, 21, a senior from Rathdrum; Xana Kernodle, 20, a junior from Post Falls; and Madison Mogen, 21, a senior from Coeur d’Alene — died from multiple stab wounds.

Kaylee Goncalves

Two of the victims were found dead in the second floor of the house. Two other victims were found dead on the third floor. Two other residents of the house were present during the attack, but were unhurt.

The slayings drew international media scrutiny — and shook the close-knit U of I campus community. An unknown number of students stayed home for the end of fall semester, as police shared few details about their investigation, and walked back initial comments suggesting the community was not at risk.

“We never lost faith that this crime would be solved,” U of I President Scott Green said Friday. “Our students come first, and this was proven each and every day of this investigation.”

The U of I will reopen for spring classes on Jan. 11. When classes resume, Moscow police and ISP will have a continued presence on campus, Fry said.

“As we prepare to begin a new semester, I hope that a new sense of confidence takes hold among students, parents, faculty and the entire University of Idaho and Moscow communities,” State Board of Education Vice President Linda Clark said in a statement Friday.

An abrupt development

For nearly seven weeks, the murder investigation drew considerable criticism — with few breakthroughs released publicly.

Ethan Chapin

Even on Thursday, Moscow police reiterated that no suspect had been identified in the case. “Updates will be provided when new information is available for release,” police said in a statement.

And before news broke of the arrest, police began working with a private company for cleanup at the rental house — although police said the residence remained an active crime scene.

“Remediation activities include removing potential biohazards and other harmful substances used to collect evidence,” police said Thursday. “There is no timeline for completion, but the property will be returned to the property management company when finished.”

The cleanup was suspended at the court’s request, Fry said Friday.

The arrest comes after police processed more than 9,025 emailed tips, 4,575 phone tips and 6,050 digital media submissions, and conducted more than 300 interviews. Authorities urged the public to continue to provide tips about the case and about Kohberger, emphasizing that their investigation is not over. “This is a new beginning,” Thompson said.

Asked to reflect on the investigation so far, Fry defended the decision to release only limited information about the case.

“I’ll 100 percent stand behind the way we handled this investigation,” he said.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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