Everything we know about the Idaho Student Murders


Photo by: Charles Reitcheck

University of Idaho Campus Winter

The horrific homicides of four college students who attended Idaho University proceeds with its investigation as primary suspect Bryan Kohberger is scheduled to appear in court Jan 12, 2023

According to ABC news, around noon on Sunday, Nov. 13, police discovered the bodies of four Idaho students who were fatally stabbed in a violent homicide. After a police investigation, the victims were identified as Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin, and Xana Kernodle. Three of the  students lived in an off-campus residence with two other roommates in Moscow, which is a college town with a population of nearly 25,000 people. Moscow police released their statement explaining that the four victims were found dead in their off campus residence, and University President Scott Green hastily canceled classes for the next day. 

Through a shared Instagram post, the police were able to determine the four victims had spent part of the day together before separating. According to ABC news, Chapin and Kernodle attended a party on campus while Goncaves and Mogen traveled to a bar downtown. Goncaves and Mogen then traveled to a nearby food truck, where they waited about 10 minutes for their food, making conversation with other students as they waited. They all returned to their place of residence sometime during the early morning hours. 

By Nov. 15, the Moscow police department had issued a statement revealing that an “edged weapon such as a knife was used for the killings.” They determined that this was a targeted attack and that nobody else was in immediate danger, but police were quick to insight new security measures. The violent nature of the murder led to a change in the atmosphere of the small college town as students began to more frequently travel in groups and avoid going out after sunset hours. 

According to ABC news, the police had been unable to identify a suspect in the week following the homicides. After dozens of anonymous tips and phone calls to the Moscow city police department, Bryan Christopher Kohberger was taken into custody on Friday, Dec. 30 and appeared before a judge in Pennsylvania. According to the New York Times, Kohberger appeared shocked to be arrested and was represented by a public defender. His family cooperated with the police but was quick to insist on his innocence. 

According to the New York Times, Kohberger grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania and attended Pleasant Valley High School. His longtime friend, Thomas Arntz, described him as having an analytical, but often cruel, mind. He earned a psychology degree from a community college in 2018. He later studied criminology at DeSales University under Katherine Ramsland, author of The Mind of a Murderer and How to Catch a Killer.

Peer Brittany Slaven recounts her experience at DeSales in a New York Times interview, saying that he “showed a particular interest in crime scenes and serial killers.” Another student describes Mr. Kohberger as the “black sheep” of his class due to his support of controversial viewpoints. 

The police have been unable to identify a motive for Kohberger, and it is unclear how he knew the victims. According to CBS News, evidence uncovered leading to his arrest includes a video report of a white Hyundai Elantra spotted in the neighborhood, which is the vehicle driven by Kohberger. According to CNN, Kohberger received a new license plate for his Elantra just five days after the murder occurred in November. In addition, police report that trash recovered from the Kohberger residence matched up with DNA found on the tan leather knife sheath discovered on the bed of one of the victims. One of the surviving roommates recounts a masked figure in all black approaching her the morning of the murder, leading to her locking herself in her bedroom for an extended time. The police included all of these in the 19 page probable cause affidavit, and Mr. Kohberger faces charges for four counts of murder, as well as burglary, and is currently being held without potential for bail. If convicted, Kohberger faces the potential of life in prison or the death penalty – if the prosecution chooses to pursue that option.