Suspect in deaths of Idaho students was WSU student, police say

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, the man arrested Friday morning as a suspect in the killings of four University of Idaho students last month, was a student at Washington State University, police said.

Kohberger, 28, was a graduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at WSU’s Pullman campus, about 10 miles from where the killings occurred, and lived in an apartment complex in Pullman, the Moscow, Idaho, Police Department confirmed at a Friday newsconference.

Two former classmates said Kohberger, of Pennsylvania, attended classes and finished the semester at WSU after the killings.

BK Norton, also in the criminal justice graduate program at WSU, said they shared four classes last semester and that Kohberger attended through the end.

Ben Roberts, another graduate student in the program, said the same. He said he didn’t notice much change in Kohberger other than he seemed to be late quite often.

“He was starting to show up really tired,” Roberts said. “He’d always have a cup of coffee in his hand, and he kind of looked like he was riding the knife edge between worn out and completely exhausted.”

Kohberger was arrested Thursday night in Albrightsville, a small town in northeast Pennsylvania, Moscow police Chief James Fry said Friday.

WSU did not respond to requests for comment, but said in a statement the Washington State University Police Department assisted Idaho authorities in executing search warrants Friday morning at Kohberger’s apartment and office, both on campus.

“This horrific act has shaken everyone in the Palouse region,” Elizabeth Chilton, chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus and WSU provost, said in a statement.

“We also want to extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and Vandal colleagues who were impacted by these murders,” Chilton said. “We will long feel the loss of these young people in the Moscow-Pullman community and hope the announcement today will be a step toward healing.”

Arrest paperwork filed in Monroe County Court in Pennsylvania said Kohberger was being held for extradition to Idaho on a warrant for first-degree murder.

Bill Thompson, the Latah County, Idaho, prosecutor, said Kohberger was being charged with four counts of first-degree murder, as well as felony burglary.

No motive has been disclosed. Kohberger made an initial appearance Friday and is being held without bond, Thompson said. He is scheduled back in court Tuesday afternoon in Pennsylvania.

Officials at the news conference gave few details about the arrest or the investigation, saying they were limited in what they could say until Kohberger appears in an Idaho court.

Fry declined to answer when asked if Kohberger had been on campus at WSU after the killings.

Thompson asked the public to share any information they have about the suspect to “fully understand everything there is to know, not only about the individual but what happened and why.”

The University of Idaho students—Ethan Chapin, of Conway, Skagit County; Chapin’s girlfriend, Xana Kernodle, of Post Falls, Idaho; and her roommates Kaylee Goncalves, of Rathdrum, Idaho, and Madison Mogen, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — were stabbed to death at a rental home near campus early on Nov. 13. Investigators were unable to name a suspect or find a weapon for weeks.

Chapin’s family said law enforcement called Thursday night to say they’d identified a suspect.

“We congratulated them for their diligent work and service,” the family said in a prepared statement. “We are relieved this chapter is over because it provides a form of closure. However, it doesn’t alter the outcome or alleviate the pain. We miss Ethan, and our family is forever changed.

“Today, we marvel at the continued stories about Ethan and the lives he touched in his short 20 years. If we all lived and loved as Ethan did, the world would be a better place.”

Moscow police said Thursday that cleanup of the house where the students were killed would begin Friday, but that was halted due to a legal request from the court, Fry said.

Fry said authorities are still searching for “all pieces of evidence” and the murder weapon. Law enforcement previously asked the public for help finding a white Hyundai Elantra sedan seen near the home around the time of the killings, and the Hyundai Elantra has been found, he said Friday.

Kohberger graduated from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania with an associate of arts degree in psychology in 2018, said college spokesperson Mia Rossi-Marino. DeSales University in Pennsylvania said that he received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed graduate studies in June 2022, according to The Associated Press.

The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review, citing a research survey posted online through DeSales University, reported that while working on his master’s degree there, Kohberger researched how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime. The post was removed Friday.

The Spokesman-Review also reported he worked as a teacher’s assistant in a WSU criminology course.

Roberts, who started with Kohberger at the university in August, described him as affable and outgoing, but also thought there was something “kind of off about him” socially. Norton, separately, used the same term to describe Kohberger.

“Bryan was incredibly smart and talked about things that impressed him, but there had been something off about him,” Norton said.

materials from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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