EXPLAINER: Next steps and new details in Idaho killings

Jan 4, 2023, 1:09 AM | Updated: 8:51 pm
The truck with with paper blocking some of its windows and believed to be transporting Bryan Kohber...

The truck with with paper blocking some of its windows and believed to be transporting Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022, arrives in a police motorcade at the Latah County Courthouse, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho, following Kohberger's extradition from Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — It’s been weeks since four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their beds, and now some of the mystery surrounding the case may soon fall away.

Bryan Kohberger, who was attending a nearby university around the time of the killings, was returned to Idaho on Wednesday to face charges of first-degree murder after his arrest last week. Court documents that could shed light on many unanswered questions are expected to be unsealed soon, even as a magistrate judge issued a sweeping gag order prohibiting anyone from discussing the case with media.

Kohberger was arrested Dec. 30 in connection with the deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. Here’s a look at what is known so far about the killings, the suspect and the latest developments.

WHO IS THE SUSPECT?

Kohberger was arrested at his parents home in Chestnuthill Township, Pennsylvania, on an Idaho warrant. He agreed on Tuesday to be extradited to Idaho, and his Pennsylvania defense attorney Jason LaBar said Kohberger was eager to be exonerated.

Before the arrest, Kohberger was working toward a doctorate in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, located 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) west of the University of Idaho in Moscow. Kohberger was also a teaching assistant at WSU, and lived in a university apartment.

In a memo to students, WSU Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton wrote this week that Kohberger’s arrest was shocking and urged students and staffers to cooperate with the investigative process as much as possible. Chilton called Kohberger “a former WSU Ph.D student,” and said he was no longer enrolled at the school.

Kohberger graduated from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania with an associate degree in psychology in 2018. He received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed graduate studies in June 2022 at DeSales University in Pennsylvania.

WHO WERE THE VICTIMS?

All four were friends and members of the University of Idaho’s Greek system. Kernodle, 20, was a junior studying marketing. She was from Post Falls, Idaho, and joined the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She lived at the rental home with the other two women who were stabbed, and she was dating Chapin, who was visiting the night of the killings.

Chapin, 20, was from Conway, Washington, and was a triplet. His brother and sister also attend UI, and both Chapin and his brother were members of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Goncalves and Mogen were both 21 and friends who grew up together in northern Idaho. Mogen worked with Kernodle at a Greek restaurant in Moscow. She was also a member of Pi Beta Phi.

Goncalves was a senior majoring in general studies, a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.

Police haven’t said whether they think Kohberger knew the victims. Police and the county prosecutor’s office have released confusing — and at times contradictory — statements about whether the victims were targeted.

WHEN DID KOHBERGER BECOME A SUSPECT?

The Moscow Police Department has released few details about the investigation, but in December investigators asked the public for help finding a white sedan seen near the scene of the crime — specifically, a 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra. Tips poured in and soon investigators announced they were working through a pool of around 20,000 potential vehicles.

Meanwhile, Kohberger apparently stayed in Washington through the end of the semester at WSU. Then he began driving across country to Pennsylvania, accompanied by his father, in a white Elantra.

Kohberger was pulled over twice on Dec. 15 while traveling through Indiana, first by a Hancock County Sheriff’s deputy and a few minutes later by an Indiana State Police trooper. During one of the stops he mentioned he was from WSU, and both stops ended with officers giving him a verbal warning for following too closely and sending him on his way.

The Indiana State Police later said there was no information available to the trooper that would have identified Kohberger as a suspect in the killings.

DNA evidence played a key role in identifying Kohberger as a suspect, and officials were able to match his DNA to genetic material recovered during the investigation, a law enforcement official said last week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the ongoing investigation.

In addition to the DNA evidence, authorities also learned Kohberger had a white Elantra, the official who spoke anonymously told The Associated Press.

WHAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT AND MORNING OF THE ATTACK?

Goncalves and Mogen went to a bar, stopped at a food truck and then caught a ride home around 2 a.m. on Nov. 13, according to a police timeline of the evening.

Chapin and Kernodle were at the Sigma Chi fraternity house a short walk away and returned to Kernodle’s house around 1:45 a.m., police said.

Two other roommates who live in the home were also out that evening, but returned home by 1 a.m., police said. They didn’t wake up until later that morning.

After they woke up, they called friends to come to the house because they believed one of the victims found on the second floor had passed out and wasn’t waking up. At 11:58 a.m., someone inside the home called 911. Multiple people talked with the dispatcher before police arrived.

Police found two of the victims on the second floor of the three-story home, and two on the third floor. A dog was also at the home, unharmed.

Autopsies showed the four were all likely asleep when they were attacked, some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault.

WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE FROM THE COMMUNITY?

The killings left the close-knit community of Moscow frightened, and nearly half of University of Idaho students temporarily switched to remote learning and left the scenic campus for their hometowns.

Meanwhile, the university increased security staff on campus, boosted mental health support for students, reminded students about available self-defense classes and helped distribute personal safety alarm devices.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Now that Kohberger is in Idaho, he will appear in Latah County Magistrate Court to hear the charges against him — four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. Idaho court officials have not said exactly when that first appearance will be scheduled, but it could occur Thursday. Kohberger won’t have an opportunity to enter a plea until a later date.

Documents filed in the criminal case have been sealed so far as required under Idaho’s public record law. Those documents are expected to be unsealed once Kohberger arrives in court if not sooner, potentially providing a basic outline of Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson’s case.

Neither Thompson, the investigators nor Kohberger’s defense attorney will be able to talk about the case, however. That’s because Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall on Tuesday issued a gag order.

The order prohibits any of the parties in the case from talking about anything “reasonably likely to interfere with a fair trial.” That includes details about any evidence, the existence of any confessions or other statements given by the defendant, or the merits of the case.

___

Associated Press writer Mike Balsamo contributed from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A shopper checks out an item in a Target store in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. On Friday, t...
Associated Press

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year […]
14 hours ago
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General, center, Dani Dayan, Chairman of Yad Vashem, lef...
Associated Press

UN: Parts of internet becoming `toxic waste dumps’ for hate

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. chief warned on the day to remember victims of the Holocaust that “many parts of the internet are becoming toxic waste dumps for hate and vicious lies,” and urgently appealed for guardrails against hate speech. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that anti-Semitism is everywhere, and it’s increasing in intensity. […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Bolsonaro’s nephew probed by Brazilian police over uprising

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s federal police searched the home of a nephew of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday in connection with the Jan. 8 storming of government buildings in the capital by far-right protesters. Police said Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, known by Bolsonaro supporters as Leo Índio, was one of the targets of […]
2 days ago
Snow blanketed the Northern Black Hills on Dec. 15, 2022, as a winter storm dumped about 3 feet in ...
Associated Press

S. Dakota tribes seek disaster declaration in storm recovery

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s congressional delegation wrote letters to President Joe Biden in support of the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations’ requests for a major disaster declaration following winter storms that left six people dead. The declaration would assist the tribes’ recovery from destruction that tribal leaders say could have been prevented if […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Friday 1/27/2023

Stocks closed higher on Wall Street, marking the market’s third winning week in the last four. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% Friday, having given up much of its afternoon gain. The Nasdaq composite and the Dow also rose. American Express helped lead the way. It jumped after giving a profit forecast that topped expectations. Next […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Visa, L3Harris rise; Intel, Eastman Chemical fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Friday: Visa Inc., up $6.73 to $231.44. Payment processing giant Visa reported strong fiscal first-quarter earnings and announced a change in leadership. Intel Corp., down $1.93 to $28.16. The chipmaker’s earnings and revenue forecasts fell below Wall Street expectations. KLA Corp., down […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
EXPLAINER: Next steps and new details in Idaho killings