Former friends of a criminology doctoral student accused of killing four University of Idaho students have described him as a socially awkward, bullied and academically gifted young man who had a personality change in high school.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was taken into custody in Pennsylvania early Friday in connection with the quadruple murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin following an investigation by the Moscow Police Department, FBI and State Police of Idaho State.
According to Washington State University’s website, Mr. Kohberger is a graduate student in the department of criminal justice and criminology in Pullman, Washington, about nine miles west of Moscow, where the students lived and were killed.
In the wake of the shocking arrest almost seven weeks after the brutal stabbings, former friends and acquaintances of Mr Kohberger have come forward with details about his personality and troubled past, which is said to have been marked by heroin addiction and weight struggles.
“It was bad,” Mr. Kohberger’s former high school classmate Sara Healey told Fox News Digital on Friday. “There was definitely something fishy about him, as we couldn’t tell exactly what it was. “I remember one time I was walking down the hall, and he stopped me and said, ‘Do you want to hang out?'”
She added: “But Brian was bullied a lot and I never got a chance to say anything to defend him because he always walked away.”
Despite his struggles, Mr. Kohberger was very bright and always got good grades, Ms. Healey said. He added that Mr Kohberger was often rejected and bullied by women, leading him to believe it was this inner frustration that ultimately led to his alleged involvement in the Moscow attack.
Another high school friend of Mr. Kohberger’s said the accused killer became a “bully” during his senior year as a way to deal with his own insecurities.
“He always wanted to fight somebody, he bullies people. We started cutting him out of our group of friends because he was 100 percent a different person,” Nick McLoughlin said. The Daily Beast.
Mr Mcloughlin said Mr Kohberger also had a dramatic weight loss that year.
Thomas Arntz, another high school classmate, echoed Mr. Mcloughlin’s portrayal of Mr. Kohberger as a bully.
“He did this to me all the time,” Mr Arntz told the publication. “He would hunt my intelligence. Basically it will imply that I’m kind of slow minded and forgetful and [that] I lack the intelligence to be his friend.’
A classmate of Mr. Kohberger’s at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania, who asked not to be named, told Fox News Digital that she last spoke with him about two years ago to discuss what they envisioned for their academic futures.
He claimed Mr Kohberger was confident he would pursue his doctorate and would spend hours talking to him about his heroin addiction.
“He’s really, really smart. A bright kid .. someone who stood out even in honors and high-level classes,” he told the network. “I want to talk to him now and ask him what happened? What went wrong? What was going through your head? What did you feel? What was happening? Do you know why this happened?’
Mr. Kohberger graduated from DeSales University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in criminal justice in May 2022.
A classmate of Mr. Kohberger’s at DeSales told the The dailyBeast incident in which he had a disagreement with the arrested.
“He was very level-headed and kind of imposing. He didn’t show much emotion,” they said. “He was careful how he spoke.”
In a statement issued to the media, the college said: “On Friday, December 30, DeSales University learned of the arrest of Bryan Kohberger in connection with the murders of four University of Idaho students. Kohberger received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed his master’s studies in June 2022. As a Catholic, Salesian community, we are devastated by this senseless tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims at this difficult time.”
According to the school’s online records, Mr. Kohberger went on to receive a bachelor of arts degree in 2018 from Northampton Community College in Albrightsville and then a master’s degree in criminal justice this year from DeSales University.
He was working part-time as a custodian until August 2021 at the Pleasant Valley School District, where his mother was listed as a paraprofessional.
Six months ago, Mr Kohberger conducted a study asking criminals how they chose their targets – and how they felt as they committed the crimes.
“Hi, my name is Brian and I’m inviting you to participate in a research project that seeks to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime,” he wrote in May in a since-deleted Reddit post. “Specifically, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings during your experience.”
The survey was anonymous and according to the Daily Mailquestions included – “Did you prepare for the crime before you left your home?”, “Why did you choose this victim or target over others?” and “What was the first move you made to achieve your goal?”
He also asked: “After the crime was committed, what were you thinking and feeling?”
While Mr. Kohberger studied criminology, where such questions may seem an integral part of any program, many may see them in a different light after his arrest in connection with the murders of Mogen, Goncalves, Kernodle and Chapin.
The four were stabbed to death in a rental home near the University of Idaho campus in Moscow in the early morning hours of November 13. Investigators were unable to name a suspect or locate a murder weapon for weeks.
Mr. Kohberger was charged with four counts of murder in connection with the killings.