FBI denies telling police to stop Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger on cross-country road trip


The FBI has denied claims that it instructed Indiana police to perform traffic stops on Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger as he made a cross-country road trip to Pennsylvania last month.

Mr Kohberger was stopped twice minutes apart while traveling through Indiana with his father on 15 December – one time by county police and the other by state police.

After body-camera footage of both stops emerged earlier this week, a law enforcement source told Fox News that the FBI had requested the stops to obtain images of Mr Kohberger’s hands as part of the investigation into the quadruple homicide of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin back in Moscow, Idaho.

However, on Thursday, after Mr Kohberger appeared in an Idaho court to face arraignment on murder charges, the FBI issued a brief statement denying the claims.

“Contrary to reports, the December 15th traffic stops conducted on the vehicle being driven by Bryan Kohberger in Indiana were not requested or directed by the FBI,” the statement read.

Two weeks later on 30 December, the 28-year-old criminology PhD student was arrested in an early-morning raid on his family home in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.

Now, the alleged killer is behind bars in Latah County Jail in Moscow after a judge ordered he be held without bail at his arraignment.

The hearing was coupled with the release of a probable cause affidavit supporting Mr Kohberger’s arrest, which featured a bevy of chilling details about the killings and how investigators pinned down their suspect.

Bryan Kohberger and his father speak to a sheriff’s deputy in Hancock County, Indiana, on the first traffic stop on 15 December (King 5)
Bryan Kohberger and his father speak to a sheriff’s deputy in Hancock County, Indiana, on the first traffic stop on 15 December (King 5)

Pennsylvania officials confirmed that they were alerted by Idaho officials to Mr Kohberger being wanted in the case sometime after he arrived at his home state in mid-December.

The 28-year-old’s father had travelled to meet his son in Washington state – where he had just completed his first semester on the criminal justice graduate at Washington State University – before the pair began the 2,500-mile drive to Pennsylvania together so that they could spend the holidays as a family.

During that journey, the father and son were pulled over twice by police in Indiana on 15 December.

Bodycam footage from the first stop was released by the Hancock County Police Department on Wednesday, showing the Kohbergers being pulled over in the suspect’s white Hyundai Elantra at about 10.44am.

In the footage, Mr Kohberger is seen in the driver’s seat and his father in the passenger seat.

The deputy tells the suspect that he was following too closely to a vehicle in front.

During the stop, Mr Kohberger and his father tell the officer about a “mass shooting” which had recently taken place at WSU.

“Yeah, there was a mass shooting,” one of the men says.

Bryan Kohberger is pictured in his new mugshot after arriving at Latah County Jail (Latah County Jail)
Bryan Kohberger is pictured in his new mugshot after arriving at Latah County Jail (Latah County Jail)

Mr Kohberger then goes on to tell the deputy that he works at WSU, with his father interjecting that he is a PhD student.

One day earlier on 14 December, a man had barricaded himself in an apartment near WSU and threatened to kill his two roommates before being killed in a shootout with police.

The deputy let the Kohberger’s go without a ticket.

Minutes later, at about 10.50am, the pair were pulled over for a second time – this time by an Indiana State Police trooper.

In bodycam footage from that incident, the trooper again tells Mr Kohberger and his father that they were trailing too closely behind a truck.

The conversation is largely unintelligible due to road noise, but Mr Kohberger’s father is once again heard telling the officer that his son attends WSU and that there had been a shooting there recently.

Mr Kohberger’s concern over the shooting at his son’s college indicates his lack of awareness that his son would soon be arrested for a quadruple murder.

The father and son also tell the officer that they have just been pulled over by another trooper.

The Indiana State Trooper told Mr Kohberger and his father that he was not giving them a ticket or warning but urged them to be “giving yourself plenty of room” on the road – letting the suspect go.

Indiana State Police said that, at the time of the stop, the trooper had no information linking Mr Kohberger to the murders in Moscow.

It was sometime during this cross-country journey that investigators began tracking Mr Kohberger’s movements.

After days of surveillance, a team of agents swooped on the Kohberger’s Pennsylvania family home in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, on 30 November and arrested him for the murders.

His white Hyundai Elantra was also seized during his arrest.

Since early December, Moscow Police had been seeking the public’s help in tracking down a white Hyundai Elantra which had been spotted in the “immediate area” of the crime scene at the time of the murders.

This week it emerged that Mr Kohberger was pulled over by police late at night in the vehicle 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, reveals that he was stopped by police on 21 August for failing to wear his seatbelt.

Bryan Kohberger is escorted across the tarmac after landing in Washington state (© Lewiston Tribune)
Bryan Kohberger is escorted across the tarmac after landing in Washington state (© Lewiston Tribune)

The traffic stop took place at around 11.40pm at the intersection of West Pullman Road and Farm Road in Moscow.

It is not clear what Mr Kohberger was doing in the area at the time – just 1.7 miles and a five-minute drive from the home on King Road where the victims were murdered after returning from a night out on 13 November.

Just five days after the murders – on 18 November – Mr Kohberger then changed the licence plates on his white Hyundai Elantra.

Licensing records released on Wednesday show that the 28-year-old criminology student registered his vehicle in Washington state on 18 November. Prior to this, the car had been registered by Mr Kohberger in Pennsylvania, the vehicle history shows.

Officials have so far remained tightlipped about Mr Kohberger’s connections to the four victims and it is not clear if he knew or interacted with them prior to allegedly killing them.

The probable cause affidavit released Thursday revealed that Mr Kohberger was linked to the savage attack when the white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene was traced back to him. His DNA was then also matched through genetic geneology techniques to DNA found on a knife sheath at the crime scene.

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)

As a criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University, he lived just 15 minutes from the victims over the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman.

He had moved there from Pennsylvania in August and has just completed his first semester.

Before this, he 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.

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.

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