Suspect in Idaho killings agrees to extradition
A small memorial formed outside the rental house where the four University of Idaho students were killed in Moscow, Idaho, Dec. 30, 2022.
By DAVID DeKOK and NICHOLAS BOGEL-BURROUGHS
The graduate criminology student accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students agreed in his first public court appearance earlier this week to be extradited from Pennsylvania to Idaho to face murder charges.
The student, Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested in eastern Pennsylvania on Friday and charged in the overnight killings of four students at a home in Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 13.
Kohberger had entered a doctoral program in criminology and criminal justice at Washington State University last summer and moved to Pullman, Washington, a 20-minute drive across the border from the scene of a crime that horrified and confounded the region.
At a news conference on Tuesday, officials provided the first detailed account of the pre-dawn arrest of Kohberger at his parents’ home in suburban Monroe County, Pennsylvania, during which officers broke down the doors and shattered windows to take him into custody.
They said they had executed search warrants to obtain Kohberger’s DNA as well as to search the home and a white Hyundai Elantra that matched the description of a vehicle seen near the crime scene on the night of the killings.
Maj. Christopher Paris of the Pennsylvania State Police said Kohberger, whose parents were home at the time of the arrest, surrendered during the raid.
Police have not outlined any motive, and officials in Pennsylvania declined to say on Tuesday whether the suspect had a previous connection to the victims. But authorities in Idaho were expected to release more details, including in a criminal complaint, once Kohberger was transferred to that state.
At the extradition hearing, Judge Margherita Patti-Worthington said Kohberger had to be extradited within 10 days. Paris said he hoped to send him to Idaho “as soon as possible,” though he said it was unlikely to happen on Tuesday night.
The public defender representing Kohberger in Pennsylvania, Jason LaBar, has said Kohberger looks forward to being exonerated.
Kohberger arrived at the courthouse from jail handcuffed and wearing a red jumpsuit. He did not respond to reporters as they shouted questions, including about whether he had carried out the crime. LaBar said Kohberger had told him that he was shocked to be considered a suspect in the slayings.
In court, Kohberger answered a set of standard questions from the judge and then signed a waiver allowing his extradition. When Patti-Worthington asked him if he was mentally ill or taking any medications that would affect his ability to make a decision, he said that he was not.
A woman in the front row of the courtroom wept as the hearing took place, prompting a sheriff’s deputy to bring her tissues.
Michael Mancuso, an assistant district attorney in Monroe County, said afterward that Kohberger may have agreed to be extradited because of an Idaho law that prohibits the release of an affidavit supporting an arrest warrant until a defendant is in the state.
“I definitely believe that one of the main reasons the defendant chose to waive extradition and hurry his return back to Idaho was to need to know what was in those documents,” Mancuso said. The affidavit was likely to provide more details about what evidence authorities had connecting Kohberger to the crime.
It also emerged on Tuesday that Kohberger had been pulled over twice for traffic infractions by police officers in Indiana on Dec. 15 while he was driving his Elantra with his father from Washington State University back to Pennsylvania for the holidays.
Indiana State Police released body camera footage from the second of the two stops, which was for following too closely behind a truck. It showed that a state trooper had decided to let Kohberger and his father go with a warning after learning that a sheriff’s deputy had also stopped them a few minutes earlier for speeding. There was no reported connection between the stop and the arrest of Kohberger two weeks later.
A week before the traffic stops, police in Moscow, Idaho, had begun urging the public to contact police if they had any information about a white Elantra in the area of the crime scene. The Indiana State Police said they had no “specific information” about a suspect or license plate that could have helped make the connection.
LaBar said Kohberger and his father had decided in August, when the semester began, that they would drive across the country to Pennsylvania together during the winter break.
The four University of Idaho student victims — Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 — were killed in a home near campus where three of them lived. The one male victim, Chapin, was there visiting his girlfriend, Kernodle.
Friends and relatives of at least one victim, Goncalves, have said that they are looking to see if they can find any connections.
“I’m biased, but if he’d got to know my daughter, I think it’d be impossible for you to hurt her,” Goncalves’ father, Steve Goncalves, told NewsNation.
Shanon Gray, a lawyer for the Goncalves family, said family members were planning to attend Kohberger’s initial appearance in Idaho and to have a representative at all subsequent hearings in the prosecution.
“They want to look in his eyes and let him know they are there and are going to be there,” he said.
Katie Blomgren, who is studying psychology at the University of Idaho and knew Goncalves and Mogen since they were all 11, said she was among those struggling to understand the connections, if any, between Kohberger and the victims.
“I’ve never seen him or heard of him,” said Blomgren, 21.