Suspect in Idaho student killings arrested, police ‘still looking for the weapon’

Authorities in Pennsylvania have arrested a suspect in the murder of four University of Idaho students, local police chief James Fry said Friday.

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The murders initially stunned law enforcement and rocked the small town of Moscow, Idaho, a farming community of about 25,000 people, who had not had a murder for five years. Fears of re-attack prompted nearly half of the University of Idaho’s more than 11,000 students to leave the city and switch to online classes.

Authorities said 28-year-old Brian Christopher Kohberger was arrested Friday morning at a home in Chesterhill Township by Pennsylvania State Police. Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said investigators believe Kohberger “entered the students’ home with intent to commit murder.”


Kohberger is being held without bond in Pennsylvania and will be held without bond in Idaho, Thompson said, and will be sealed until he returns to the affidavit on the four charges of first-degree murder in Idaho. . Thompson said he also faces a felony charge in Idaho. The extradition hearing is to be held on Tuesday.

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Kohberger is a PhD student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. University police assisted Idaho law enforcement in executing a search warrant at Kohberger’s home and office on campus, the university said.

WSU is a short drive across the state line from the University of Idaho. The two universities partner in several academic programs, and students sometimes attend classes and seminars or work at neighboring schools. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Kohberger: Scott Green, the president of the University of Idaho, wrote in a memo to students and staff on Friday evening that the Idaho school had no record of him.

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Kohberger graduated from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 2018, said college spokeswoman Mia Rossi-Marino. DeSales University in Pennsylvania said he will receive his bachelor’s degree in 2020 and complete his graduation in June 2022.

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The Idaho students—Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Zana Kurnodl and Ethan Chapin—were found stabbed to death in a rental home near campus in the early morning hours of November 13.

Investigators were unable to name a suspect or locate the murder weapon for weeks.

Fry became emotional as he announced the arrests, calling the victims by their first names. The chief has said in the past that everyone on the force feels strongly about solving the crime, choking at times when discussing the impact on the victims’ families and the close-knit rural community.

Goncalves, 21, Rathdrum, Idaho; Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; And Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington, was a member of the university’s Greek system and a close friend. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in a three-story rental home with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating and he had come home that night.

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The autopsy revealed that all four were asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each had been stabbed multiple times. Police said there was no sign of sexual assault.

Chief Fry said they are still “putting all the pieces together” to determine the motive.

“Obviously they are relieved that someone has been arrested,” Gray said. “You guys know just as much as we do now.”

Ben Roberts, a graduate student in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at WSU, described Kohberger as confident and outgoing, but said it seemed “he was always looking for a way to fit in.”

“It’s pretty out of left field,” he said of Friday’s news. “I honestly judged her as being super weird.”

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Roberts started the program with Kohberger in August, he said _ and has had several courses with him. He described Kohberger as wanting to appear academic.

“One thing he always did, almost without fail, was find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said. “He had to make sure you knew he knew it.”

Ethan Chapin’s family emailed a statement following the press conference. “We are relieved that this chapter is over because it provides a form of closure. However, it does not alter the outcome or ease the pain,” the family wrote. “We miss Ethan, and our family is forever changed.”

The Chapin family also thanked the University of Idaho and the Sigma Chi fraternity, where Ethan was a member, for their support.

The family wrote, “We also appreciate the kind words coming from so many others that we will need as we move into the next chapter of this nightmare.”

The case attracted online sleuths who speculated about possible suspects and motives. Due to security concerns, the university hired an additional security firm to escort students throughout campus, and the Idaho State Police sent troopers to help patrol the city streets.

Kohberger was arrested in the Pocono Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania. No attorney for Kohberger was listed in court documents and phone calls to the county public defender’s office were answered Friday.

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