Suspect in University of Idaho killings to appear in court in Pennsylvania

Bryan Kohberger is not expected to resist extradition to Idaho to face murder charges over stabbings of four students

Bryan Kohberger, the criminal psychology graduate accused of murder over the deaths of four University of Idaho students, will appear in a Pennsylvania court on Tuesday ahead of his extradition to Idaho.

Kohberger’s public defender, Jason LaBar, has said his client will not contest his extradition because he is “eager to be exonerated”. LaBar has also said that his client “should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise – not tried in the court of public opinion”.

The murders of four students in the home they shared shocked much of America, especially as investigators appeared to struggle for weeks without developing any substantial clues as to who had carried out the brutal slayings or why. The college town of Moscow, Idaho, had been traumatized by the deaths, with reports of many students fleeing and refusing to return to lessons.

In advance of Kohberger appearing in a Moscow, Idaho, court to be formally charged, prosecutors there have been reluctant to release details of how they identified the 28-year-old as a suspect, insisting they must preserve the integrity of the investigation.

But multiple news reports, often citing anonymous police sources, have begun to construct a picture of how investigators zeroed in on Kohberger who is accused of the murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, on 13 November.

On Sunday, CNN reported that investigators used a public database to match the Kohberger family to DNA recovered at the crime scene.

Cellphone data may also have revealed that Kohberger was frequently in the same vicinity as the murdered students. However, a murder weapon, believed to be a long knife, has not been found.

Investigators, including a team of 60 FBI agents, then homed in on Kohberger after confirming his ownership of a white Hyundai Elantra seen at 3am near the crime scene on the night of the murders.

The car, which was later used by the suspect and his father to drive more than 2,000 miles from Idaho to the family home near the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania, was towed away on Friday after Kohberger was arrested in a dawn raid.

As the pair drove across the country, police tracked them for four days. “Sometime right before Christmas we were zeroing in on him being in or going to Pennsylvania,” an unnamed law enforcement source told CNN.

In a statement on Sunday, Kohberger’s family said they “will love and support our son and brother” and had “fully cooperated with law enforcement agencies in an attempt to seek the truth and promote his presumption of innocence rather than judge unknown facts and make erroneous assumptions”.

The Seattle Times reported that after the fatal stabbings, Kohberger attended classes at Washington State University – nine miles from the University of Idaho. He had earlier completed a master’s degree in criminal justice at Pennsylvania’s DeSales University.

At DeSales, Kohberger was a student of Professor Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist who has interviewed serial killers, including Dennis Rader, AKA the BTK Strangler, has written dozens of books, consults on cases and trains police officers. Ramsland has said she is not making statements to the media at this time.

Hayden Stinchfield, who observed Kohberger when he was working as a teacher’s assistant in one of her criminology classes at WSU, told Spokane’s the Spokesman-Review that he seemed disengaged. “He was definitely kind of a creepy guy,” she said.

After the murders, Stinchfield said she noticed that Kohberger seemed more distracted and disheveled. “We noticed distinctly, like, ‘Oh, he must be going through it. He’s, yeah, he’s looking a lot worse,’” she said.

But until Idaho prosecutors release an affidavit providing details of the killings and supporting criminal charges after Kohberger is back in Idaho much about the case remains unknowable, though Moscow’s police chief, James Fry, told multiple news outlets that law enforcement believes Kohberger to be the sole perpetrator.

“We believe we have our guy, the one that committed these murders,” Fry told ABC News on Saturday.

Over the weekend, Capt Anthony Dahlinger of Moscow police said his department had received more than 400 calls from people with tips following Kohberger’s arrest.

“Now we have got a suspect, we are going to be investigating every aspect of him that we can absolutely find out. We’re trying to build this picture of him, who he is, his history and how we got to this event and why this event occurred,” Dahlinger said.


Edward Helmore

The GuardianTramp

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