10 key revelations in the Idaho murder case
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Court filings unsealed this week provided important and disturbing new details about the night four University of Idaho students were killed.
Police investigators on November 15, 2022 at the rented home where four students were found dead near the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, Idaho. After weeks of unease, authorities this week released their most detailed account yet of the investigation that led them to arrest a criminology student at a nearby university. (Rajah Bose/The New York Times)
January 6, 2023
MOSCOW, Idaho – After weeks of unease over the killing of four University of Idaho students at a home near campus, authorities this week released their most detailed account of the investigation, which led them to hand over a criminology student from a nearby university to arrest.
The documents contain a body of evidence about suspect Bryan Kohberger, 28, a graduate student at Washington State University, who said through a lawyer he looks forward to being exonerated. The recordings also provided harrowing new details about the night the four students were killed and raises new questions about a mysterious case in which authorities have not explained a possible motive.
Here are 10 major revelations released on Thursday.
A roommate saw a masked man.
Investigators had previously suspected that two roommates who were in the house the night of the crime and were not attacked were sleeping. But records show that one of them woke up around 4am after hearing noises, a man’s voice and crying. That was around the time authorities believe the murders took place.
According to the recordings, this roommate finally watched from her room as a man dressed in black with a mask on his face walked past her towards the back door of the house. She reported that she had locked her own bedroom door at the time, but the records do not reveal what happened afterward.
Authorities were not called to the scene for more than seven hours.
Investigators found a knife sheath at the scene.
On an upstairs bed where two victims – Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves – were found dead, investigators said they found a tan leather knife sheath.
Police said they were able to obtain a DNA sample from a snap on the vagina and later found a link between that sample and DNA collected from Kohberger’s childhood home in Pennsylvania.
That could prove to be an important piece of evidence as authorities try to connect Kohberger to the crime scene.
The suspect applied to the local police station.
Kohberger had long been interested in criminology and criminal law.
He studied part-time in Pennsylvania with Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist whose books include The Mind of a Murderer and How to Catch a Killer. He researched the psychology of criminals when they committed crimes.
At Washington State University, he completed his PhD on a course on DNA evidence and forensics in the weeks leading up to the murders, while continuing to proofread papers in the weeks that followed.
Authorities also announced that Kohberger had spent the past few months applying for an internship with the Pullman, Washington Police Department, less than 10 miles from the University of Idaho campus in Moscow. As part of the application, he wrote an essay describing his interest in helping rural police departments collect and analyze data.
A car passed the victim’s home several times.
On the night of the killings, investigators said surveillance footage showed a white car repeatedly driving down the cul-de-sac where the victims lived.
The vehicle, which police said was a Hyundai Elantra, emerged at around 3:29 a.m., passed the area three times before returning a fourth time at 4:04 a.m., around the time the surviving housemate and the police were aroused to believe the murders had taken place. The vehicle, police said, was seen driving away from the area at 4:20 a.m
Audio recorded a barking dog.
At 4:17 a.m., a surveillance camera near the victims’ home picked up distorted audio that sounded like a whimper and a loud pop, investigators said. They also said that a dog was heard barking several times.
After the murders were discovered, police officers who arrived at the house found a dog in one of the rooms. The dog belonged to one of the victims, Kaylee Goncalves.
One of the victims may have been awake.
While the coroner said all four victims were likely asleep at the time of the murders, investigators in the new court filing indicated that at least one of them may have been awake.
Xana Kernodle received a DoorDash delivery around 4 a.m., just before the white vehicle arrived, investigators said. A forensic check of her phone also suggested she was using the TikTok app at 4:12 a.m
A campus officer found Kohberger’s car.
With surveillance video in hand, police began scouring the area for white Hyundai Elantras, and a Washington State University campus cop found one registered to Kohberger in November.
Investigators said they reviewed pictures of Kohberger and found that his physical appearance matched a roommate’s recollection of seeing a man in the home, including his height, build and bushy eyebrows.
Police initially said they were looking for a 2011-13 Elantra, but later determined it could also be from a 2016 model year. Kohberger had a 2015 Elantra.
Kohberger’s phone was disconnected during the murders.
By the end of December, investigators managed to obtain records of the location of Kohberger’s cellphone.
Records showed that, according to a police affidavit, he had visited the neighborhood of the crime scene 12 times prior to the night of the murder. On the night of the murders, his phone was in Pullman at 2:47 a.m. but was then disconnected from cell service.
The phone was reconnected to the network at 4:48 a.m. at a location miles south of the University of Idaho. The phone eventually traveled back to Pullman.
Police believe the suspect may have returned to the scene.
Several hours after the killings, at 9:12 a.m., Kohberger’s phone was discovered in Moscow, connecting to the cellular network near the scene of the crime, according to police records, and staying there for nine minutes.
The phone then returned to the area of his Pullman home. At this point in the morning, no one had called 911, so the police hadn’t gotten to the scene.
A DNA sample was taken from garbage in Pennsylvania.
In the days after receiving Kohberger’s phone records, investigators were in Pennsylvania, where Kohberger had vacationed with his father.
Agents there removed trash from Kohberger’s family home and shipped it to Idaho. Investigators said they were working to match a DNA profile found in the trash with a DNA sample taken from the knife sheath found at the crime scene. The analysis, police said, suggested a high probability that the elder Kohberger was the father of whoever left DNA on the knife sheath.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.