BOISE, Idaho (AP) – A suspect arrested in connection with the murders of four University of Idaho students plans to waive an extradition hearing so he can be quickly brought to Idaho to face murder charges, his defense attorney said. on Saturday.
Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student and assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Washington, was taken into custody early Friday morning by Pennsylvania State Police at his parents’ home in Chestnut Hill Township, authorities said.
Bill Thompson, the district attorney in Latah County, Idaho, said during a news conference Friday that investigators believe Kohberger broke into a University of Idaho student home near the campus “with the intent to commit murder.” The bodies of the students — Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin — were found Nov. 13, several hours after investigators believe they died.
The arrest in the disturbing case brought a sense of relief to the small college town in northern Idaho after weeks with little information released by police. But it has also raised questions about whether the suspect knew the victims, what he did in the weeks after the murders and how authorities tracked him down in Pennsylvania.
Kohberger’s attorney, Solicitor General Jason LaBar, said Kohberger plans to tell a judge in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday that he will waive his extradition hearing so he can be quickly transported to Idaho to face the charges and is looking forward to acquitted.
LaBar also cautioned people not to judge the case until a fair trial is held. The case has sparked massive speculation on social media, with would-be mystery-mongers often trying to pin the blame for the deaths on various friends and acquaintances of the victims.
“Mr. Kohberger has been accused of very serious crimes, but the American justice system covers him with a veil of innocence,” LaBar wrote in a prepared statement. “He should be presumed innocent until proven guilty – not tried in court of public opinion”.
Neighbors of the Kohberger family in Chestnuthill Township, Pennsylvania, told The (Scranton) Times-Tribune on Friday that they were shocked to see law enforcement vehicles outside the home.
Eileen Cesaretti, who lives across the street, said she loves Kohberger’s parents and loves their son, who she said helped her and her husband around their house when he came home from school.
“I don’t think he’s capable of doing that. I pray to God that he is innocent,” Cesaretti said.
Nephi Duff lives next door to Bryan Kohberger in a Washington State University apartment complex for graduate students and families. He told Spokane, Washington-based TV station KREM2 that recent crimes like the murders in Moscow have made him feel unsafe.
“I don’t remember ever seeing him around,” Duff said of Kohberger. “I thought I was moving to a safe, small community, but that hasn’t happened recently. I’m just thinking if this is happening right under my nose, how can I protect (my family)?”
BK Norton, a student in WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, said Friday that they didn’t know Kohberger well, but they didn’t like him.
“We interacted in class, but personally I was not a fan of Brian because of the comments he had made about LGBTQ+ people,” they said in an email to The Associated Press. “He was a little off, but I always thought it was because he was awkward and wanted to fit in. Not knowing anything about Bryan personally I expected him to be from PA and interested in forensic psychology.”
Thompson, the Idaho district attorney, asked anyone who knows Kohberger to call the police tip line to share information.
“Call the tip line, report anything you know about him to help the investigators and ultimately our office and the justice system fully understand everything we need to know not only about the person, but what happened and why,” he said Thompson.
Federal and state investigators are now reviewing Kohberger’s background, financial records and electronic communications as they work to identify a motive and build the case, a law enforcement official who could not publicly discuss details of the ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Investigators are also interviewing people who knew Kohberger, including those at WSU, the official said.
Kohberger is being held without bond in Pennsylvania and will be held without bond in Idaho once he is returned, Thompson said. The affidavit on four counts of first-degree murder in Idaho will remain sealed until it is returned, the prosecutor said. He is also charged with felony burglary in Idaho. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
The students — Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash. — were members of the university’s Greek system and close friends. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in the three-story rental house with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating and he was visiting the house that night.
The autopsy showed that all four were probably asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault, police said.
Ben Roberts, a graduate student in the criminology and criminal justice department at WSU, described Kohberger as confident and outgoing, but said she seemed to be “always looking for a way to fit in.”
“I had honestly pegged him as extremely awkward.” Roberts said.
Roberts started the program in August — along with Kohberger, he said — and has had many classes 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.
Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Balsamo from Washington. News reporter Rhonda Shafner in New York. reporters Mark Scolforo and Brooke Schultz in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Martha Bellisle in Seattle also contributed.