Suspect in killings of 4 Idaho college students arrested in Poconos; he's a graduate of DeSales University, NCC
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A suspect in the killings of four University of Idaho students was arrested in Monroe County early Friday and is a graduate of two Lehigh Valley colleges — DeSales University and Northampton Community College.
Arrest paperwork filed by Pennsylvania State Police in Monroe County Court said Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, of Albrightsville, was being held for extradition in a criminal homicide investigation based on an active arrest warrant for first-degree murder issued by the Moscow Police Department and Latah County Prosecutor’s Office in Idaho.
- Court paperwork identified the suspect as Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28
- He was being held in Pennsylvania on first-degree murder charges
- The four college students were stabbed to death Nov. 13 near the University of Idaho
Pennsylvania State Police said members of Troop N and the Special Emergency Response Team arrested Kohberger early Friday at a home in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County. He was arraigned before District Judge Michael Muth and remanded to the Monroe County Correctional Facility without bond, pending extradition to Idaho.
Kohberger received a bachelor's degree in 2020 from DeSales University in Center Valley and completed his graduate studies this past June, according to the university.
He was awarded a master of arts degree in criminal justice.
"As a Catholic, Salesian community, we are devastated by this senseless tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families during this difficult time," said Carolyn Steigleman, DeSales' associate vice president of marketing and communications.
At DeSales, Kohberger was a student of forensic psychology Professor Katherine Ramsland, a renowned expert in serial killers who has authored dozens of books and served as a television crime commentator.
Ramsland confirmed to LehighValleyNews.com that Kohberger was a student of hers; she declined immediate comment.
Before attending DeSales, Kohberger received an associate's degree in psychology in 2018 at Northampton Community College, said college spokeperson Mia Rossi-Marino.
He currently is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, which is a short drive across the state line from the University of Idaho. Authorities said he has an apartment in Pullman, Washington.
At a news conference Friday afternoon in Moscow, Idaho, officials said details of the case would remain under wraps until Krohberger is returned to Idaho.
Under Idaho law, an affidavit of probable cause must remain sealed until Krohberger is back in the state, said Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson.
“What I can tell you is we have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes and I do believe our community is safe,” Police Chief James Fry told reporters.
Fry said the investigation yielded more than 19,000 tips and authorities have conducted 300 interviews so far. Police have yet to locate a murder weapon, he said.
Thompson said investigators believe Kohberger broke into the University of Idaho students' home “with the intent to commit murder.” He is also charged with felony burglary.
The students — Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin — were stabbed to death at a rental home near campus sometime in the early morning hours of Nov. 13. The slayings initially mystified law enforcement, with investigators unable to name a suspect or locate a murder weapon for weeks.
But the case broke open after law enforcement asked the public for help finding a white sedan seen near the home around the time of the killings. The Moscow Police Department made the request Dec. 7, and by the next day had to direct tips to a special FBI call center because so many were coming in.
The police chief said authorities have found a white Hyundai Elantra but he did not elaborate during Friday afternoon's news conference.
Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, were members of the university's Greek system and close friends. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in the three-story rental home with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating and he was visiting the house that night.
Autopsies showed all four were likely asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault, police said.
“Obviously they’re relieved that someone has been arrested.”Shanon Gray, attorney for one of the victims' family
The stabbing deaths shook the small town of Moscow, a farming community of about 25,000 people — including roughly 11,000 students — tucked in the rolling hills of northern Idaho’s Palouse region.
Shanon Gray, an attorney representing Goncalves's father, Steve Goncalves, said law enforcement officials called the family to let them know about the arrest, but gave no additional information about how or why they believe he might be connected to the murders.
“Obviously they’re relieved that someone has been arrested,” Gray said. “You guys know about as much as we do right now.”
'Looking for a way to fit in'
Ben Roberts, a graduate student in the criminology and criminal justice department at WSU, described Kohberger as confident and outgoing, but said it seemed like “he was always looking for a way to fit in.”
“It’s pretty out of left field,” he said of the news Friday. “I had honestly just pegged him as being super awkward.”
Roberts started the program in August — along with Kohberger, he said — and had several courses with him. He described Kohberger as wanting to appear academic.
“One thing he would always do, almost without fail, was find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said. “He had to make sure you knew that he knew it.”
The case also enticed online sleuths who speculated about potential suspects and motives. In the early days of the investigation, police released relatively few details publicly.
Fears of a repeat attack prompted nearly half of the University of Idaho students to switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester, abandoning dorms and apartments in the normally bucolic town for the perceived safety of their hometowns. Safety concerns also had the university hiring an additional security firm to escort students across campus and the Idaho State Police sending troopers to help patrol the city’s streets.
Monroe County is located in eastern Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains. The county seat, Stroudsburg, is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia.
According to court paperwork, an extradition hearing for Kohberger is set for Tuesday afternoon before Monroe County President Judge Margherita P. Worthington.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.