Suspect arrested in University of Idaho student killings
A suspect in the slayings of four University of Idaho students has been taken into custody in Pennsylvania, law enforcement sources said Friday.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was apprehended in Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania, law enforcement sources told NBC News.
Court records showed Kohberger was booked into custody on an arrest warrant out of Moscow, Idaho, accusing him of first-degree murder.
A judge ordered his extradition back to Idaho on Friday, court records showed.
Moscow police have scheduled a news conference for 1 pm PT, where it is expected they will reveal more details about the November slayings that stunned the small college town.
A Hyundai Elantra was taken away from the person’s home in Pennsylvania on Friday, law enforcement sources said. Police in Moscow had been looking for a white Hyundai Elantra as a possible piece of evidence.
Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash.; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Ariz.; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, were killed on Nov. 13.
Three of the victims shared the home they were killed in—Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle—while Kernodle’s boyfriend, Chapin, was staying overnight, according to investigators.
The mother of one of the four students told NBC News Friday a huge weight has been lifted because an arrest has been made tied to the slayings.
Cara Northington, the mother of victim Xana Kernodle, said she learned the news of an arrest after waking up and speaking to a friend. All she has been able to think about is who would have killed her daughter and her friends, and she continued to hold out hope that there would be a break in the case.
“It’s been a nightmare. This whole thing has been a nightmare, literally,” Northington said. “But I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
She added that she is unfamiliar with the person who was arrested Friday in Pennsylvania, but is relieved he was apprehended.
“A lot of the grief was not knowing who this was, knowing that whoever was responsible for that is still out there,” she said. “So yeah, this definitely takes a lot of the grief that we were experiencing off our shoulders.”
Northington said she’s also grateful to the support from strangers across the country and to law enforcement. Authorities believe they were killed inside the apartment house while they slept, although some had defensive wounds.
Police were also looking for the weapon, believed to be a large knife.
Two other roommates were home at the time of the slayings in the early morning of Nov. 13, but police said they are not believed to have been involved in the crime.
They were asleep during the stabbings, and one of their cellphones was used to call 911 when they woke up later that morning, detectives said.
The investigation has been led by Moscow police, with dozens of state and federal agents providing forensics analysis of a scene that experts say had been complicated by the nature of the crime—a quadruple homicide—and the fact that the roommates would host parties.
As weeks went by without an arrest or person of interest named, the case drew attention from internet sleuths, leading police to dispel unfounded claims on social media.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry insisted that the case was not cold.
He also declined to speak in detail about the case or investigators’ best leads, telling NBC News last week that police must protect the integrity of the investigation and also don’t want to taint a potential jury pool if there is a trial.
“I know that’s very frustrating,” Fry said. “It’s frustrating to family members and [the] community, but our end goal is to bring somebody to justice for those families and for those victims.”
The case was initially dogged by mixed messaging from authorities, who first told the public that the “targeted attack” posed no lingering threat to the community. But Fry, days later, said he couldn’t say where the killer or killers may be.
An arrest comes as a “celebration of life” was planned later Friday for two of the roommates, Goncalves and Mogen.
david k li, Erik Ortiz and Andrew Blankstein contributed.