Bryan Kohberger’s Idaho murders arrest affidavit was meant to give answers. Instead it raises these new questions

 (via Reuters)
(via Reuters)

For nearly eight weeks, the families of four slain University of Idaho students have waited in agony for answers about the unspeakable killings.

Hope of finally getting some clarity finally came last week with the arrest of Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University. Days later, the probable cause affidavit outlining what led authorities to charge Mr Kohberger was made public, revealing horrifying details about the 13 November murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin in the college town of Moscow.

Among the revelations in the 18-page document is that Mr Kohberger’s DNA was found on a knife sheath that the killer left behind at the crime scene. The tan leather Kabar knife sheath, which featured the United States Marine Corps symbol, was discovered on Mogen’s bed next to her butchered body.

Mr Kohberger’s DNA was found on the sheath with investigators able to trace it to him by matching it to DNA found on trash recovered from his family home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, the affidavit states.

Mr Kohberger was also linked to the murders through his white Hyundai Elantra and through cellphone data.

But along with all of the new information outlined in the bombshell document came even more questions. Here they are:

Why did the surviving roommate wait eight hours to call 911?

The affidavit raises fresh questions about the 911 call reporting the murders and why there was an eight-hour gap between the time of the killings and police being called to the scene.

At the time of the quadruple homicide, two other female roommates were also inside the home on King Road, Moscow, but were left unharmed by the killer.

Initially, police said that the two survivors slept through the attack in bedrooms on the first floor of the three-storey home.

However, the police report reveals that one of the two surviving roommates actually came face to face with the masked killer inside the home.

The survivor, identified only as D.M. in the documents, told investigators she was actually in her bedroom on the second floor of the home – the same floor where Kernodle and Chapin were killed – and was stood in the doorway as the killer walked right past her.

According to D.M.’s terrifying account, she had gone to sleep in her bedroom on the second floor of the three-floor home and was woken by what sounded like Goncalves playing with her dog in one of the third-floor bedrooms.

A short time later, D.M. said that she heard someone believed to be either Goncalves or Kernodle saying “there’s someone here”.

Minutes later, D.M. said that she looked out of her bedroom for the first time but did not see anything. She then opened her door for a second time when she heard what she thought was crying coming from Kernodle’s room, the documents state.

At that point, she said she heard a man’s voice saying “it’s ok, I’m going to help you”.

When she opened her door for a third time minutes later, she said she saw “a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her”.

As she stood in a “frozen shock phase,” she said the man – who she did not recognise – walked past her and headed toward the back sliding glass door of the home. She then locked herself in her room.

Despite the close encounter, a 911 call wasn’t made until 11.58am – eight hours later. The call, made from one of the surviving roommates’ cellphones – reported an “unconscious individual”.

It is not clear why the D.M. waited eight hours to alert authorities to the scene after seeing an unidentified masked man inside the home and hearing concerning noises.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, took this photo together hours before they died (Instagram/Kaylee Goncalves)
Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, took this photo together hours before they died (Instagram/Kaylee Goncalves)

Why did the killer spare the two surviving roommates?

Questions also remain around why the killer stabbed the four students to death and then spared the two surviving roommates.

The roommate identified as D.M. even saw the killer exiting the crime scene but was left unharmed.

It is unclear if the killer saw her or whether she simply had a lucky escape because he didn’t notice her inside the dark home.

This also raises the question around whether or not he planned to kill all four victims or whether some of the victims were treated as collateral damage in the horrific attack.

Who was the intended target?

From the early days of the investigation, authorities said that the attack was “targeted” – but refused to reveal what led them to that conclusion and who or what the target was.

The 19-page affidavit reveals no details about what connection – if any – Mr Kohberger had to his alleged victims.

The victims were all students at the University of Idaho meanwhile Mr Kohberger was a criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University.

He lived just 15 minutes from the victims over the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman, having moved there to begin the PhD program in August.

Despite the proximity, there is no known connection between the victims and the accused killer. It is not clear if the victims even knew who Mr Kohberger was.

Goncalves’ father Steve Goncalves told ABC News that he had found unnamed connections between the suspect and the daughter – but was not ready to reveal what these potential ties were.

The home where the murders took place in Moscow, Idaho (AP)
The home where the murders took place in Moscow, Idaho (AP)

Is Bryan Kohberger the stalker Kaylee Goncalves complained about?

Prior to the 13 November massacre, investigators believe that Mr Kohberger stalked the victims’ home at least 12 times.

Cellphone records show that his phone pinged in the area of the King Road home on at least twelve occasions between 23 June and 13 November when the murders took place.

The exact dates of these instances were not revealed in the documents but all bar one were in the late evening or early morning hours.

One incident was identified on 21 August, when the suspect was stopped by police just minutes from the home where he allegedly knifed the four students to death three months later.

A citation from Latah County Sheriff’s Office, obtained by The Independent earlier this week, reveals that the traffic stop took place at around 11.40pm at the intersection of West Pullman Road and Farm Road in Moscow.

The record shows he was stopped for failing to wear his seatbelt – just 1.7 miles and a five-minute drive from the victims’ student rental home.

On that occasion, Mr Kohberger’s cellphone pinged in the area of the King Road home from around 10.34pm to 11.35pm, the affidavit shows.

Prior to her death, Goncalves had told friends and family members that she believed she had a stalker.

The details of the stalker were unknown and, throughout the murder investigation, Moscow Police said that they had been unable to confirm or deny the claims.

It remains unclear if Mr Kohberger was the stalker Goncalves was fearful of and how long he may have been surveilling the victim or victims at the home.

What was the motive?

Investigators are yet to reveal a motive for the attack however questions are swirling about the suspect’s interest in crime and criminal justice.

At the time of the murders, Mr Kohberger was studying for his PhD and working as a teaching assistant in criminal justice at WSU.

Prior to this, Mr Kohberger studied criminology at DeSales University first as an undergraduate and then finishing his graduate studies in June 2022.

While there, he studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-wrote the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with him.

Bryan Kohberger in Latah County court
Bryan Kohberger in Latah County court

He also carried out a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime”.

He reached out for participants on Reddit, with the chilling survey resurfacing in the wake of his arrest.

“In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience,” the post said.

His fascination appears to have continued around the time of the murders when he applied for an internship with the local police department.

The affidavit reveals that he applied for an internship in fall 2022 with the Pullman Police Department and wrote in an essay how he had an interest “in assisting rural law enforcement agencies with how to better collect and analyze technological data in public safety operations”.

Why did he spare Kaylee Goncalves’ dog?

Investigators have previously revealed that Goncalves’ pet dog Murphy was found unharmed inside the home.

The affidavit has now revealed that the dog – which she shared with her ex-boyfriend – was found unharmed in Goncalves’ bedroom on the third floor. Goncalves and Madison Mogen were both found dead in Mogen’s bedroom.

A security camera near the home picked up the sound of a dog numerous times starting at 4.17am, the affidavit states.

It is not clear if the suspect encountered the dog and shut it in Goncalves’ room or if it was already in there at the time of the murders.

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