Bryan Kohberger, the 28-year-old criminology graduate student charged with first-degree murder in the macabre killings of four University of Idaho students, plans to waive an appearance in court in Pennsylvania on Tuesday where Idaho prosecutors will request his extradition, his lawyer indicated on Saturday.
Pennsylvania’s Monroe county chief public defender, Jason LaBar, said on Saturday that he plans to tell a judge there on Tuesday that Kohberger will waive his extradition hearing there so that he can be quickly brought to Idaho to face the charges and is eager to be exonerated.
Kohberger was taken into custody on a “fugitive from justice warrant” at his parents’ home in Effort, Pennsylvania, early on Friday morning. He is accused of murdering four young victims – Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves – on 13 November at a rented house near the university campus in Moscow, Idaho.
“The overall assessment is that it’s a crime of passion,” the mayor of Moscow, Art Bettge, said at the time. But that initial interpretation has been thrown into doubt after it was revealed that the accused man had consulted online forums seeking information from criminals on their “thoughts, emotions and actions from the beginning to end of the crime commission process”.
The Daily Beast reported on Saturday that Kohberger took courses by the famed forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, who has written 68 books including How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and The Mind of a Murderer.
Police have declined to say anything about the suspect’s possible motive. A Hyundai Elantra similar to a car that Idaho police had been seeking was reportedly towed from the suspect’s parents house. Investigators have confirmed that a murder weapon, believed to be a long knife, has not been recovered.
After the suspect was arrested by police in Pennsylvania, Idaho’s Latah county prosecutor, Bill Thompson, said investigators believe Kohberger broke into the students’ home “with the intent to commit murder”.
“This is not the end of this investigation. In fact, it’s a new beginning,” Thompson said. “You all now know the name of the person who has been charged with these offenses.”
Kohberger is a PhD student in the department of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University, about nine miles from the Idaho university campus. He graduated with an associate of arts degree in psychology in 2018.
The arrest has brought a measure of relief to Moscow, where residents have been living in fear that a serial killer was still living in their midst. Before the suspect’s arrest, theories about the killer’s, or killers’, identity had proliferated and authorities have come under sustained criticism for not making swifter progress.
Moscow police requested public help on 7 December. Within a day it was sending tips to a special FBI call center due to the volume.
After Kohberger’s arrest, Stacy Chapin, mother of one of the four victims, said she was thankful. Chapin said she and her family were “relieved this chapter is over, because it provides a form of closure”.
In an interview with Fox News, Goncalves’s father, Steve Goncalves, said “You can’t even smile when you have this over your head. It feels like a little bit of weight has been relieved and things are on the right track, and we’re moving in the right direction.”
In a message to students and employees at the university, the university president, Scott Green, said the arrest was “a relief for our community”. Moscow, a town of 25,000 near the border with Washington state, had not seen a murder in seven years prior to 13 November.
“It has been a stressful time for our university, but we never lost faith that this case would be solved.” But he cautioned about the “tough” months still to come for the victims’ families. “Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” Green said.
Much about the brutal killings remains shrouded in mystery. A police timeline of the evening revealed that two of the victims, Goncalves and Mogen, had stopped at a food truck on the way home from a bar around 2am. Chapin and Kernodle returned to the house around 1.45am.
Two other roommates returned home earlier, around 1am, police said. The next morning, they called friends to come to the house, believing that one of the victims found had passed out and wasn’t waking up. They then called 911.
Police then found two victims on the second floor, and two on the third floor. Autopsies showed that all were probably asleep when they were attacked. Each was stabbed multiple times, some had defensive wounds and there was no sign of sexual assault.
It remains unclear if the suspect had any connection to the victims. Former classmates recalled Kohberger as “very intelligent” but “seemingly detached”. Others said he was a “bully”.
On Saturday, LaBar cautioned people against passing judgment on the case until a fair trial is held. The case has generated huge amounts of speculation on social media, with would-be sleuths frequently 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 cloaks him in a veil of innocence,” LaBar wrote in a prepared statement. “He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise – not tried in the court of public opinion.”