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Bryan Kohberger Suspect in Idaho student’s slaying: Authorities have tracked suspect to Pennsylvania, sources say

Bryan Kohberger Suspect in Idaho student’s slaying: Authorities have tracked suspect to Pennsylvania, sources say

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Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
CNN

The authorities started following the man accused of killing four Idaho students while driving around the country around Christmas and continued to watch him for several days before finally arresting him on Friday, sources told CNN.

Brian Christopher Kochberger, 28, was arrested in his home state of Pennsylvania and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary in connection with the deaths of four University of Idaho students in November, according to Lattach County Prosecutor Bill Thompson .

However, investigators have not publicly confirmed the suspect’s motives or whether he knew the victims. The murder weapon has also not been found, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Friday.

In the nearly seven weeks since the students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home, investigators have conducted more than 300 interviews and fielded approximately 20,000 tips in the search for the suspect. News of the slayings — and the long period of time without a suspect or significant events — shook the University of Idaho community and the surrounding city of Moscow, which hasn’t had a homicide in seven years.

Investigators perfected on Kohberger as a suspect through DNA evidence and by confirming his ownership of a white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene, according to two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.

Koberger, who authorities say lived just minutes from the scene of the murders, is a doctoral student in Washington State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, the school confirmed.

He was driving a white Hyundai Elantra and arrived at his parents’ house in Pennsylvania around Christmas, according to a law enforcement source. Authorities began tracking him at some point during his trip east of Idaho.

“Sometime right before Christmas, we were focused on whether he would be in or go to Pennsylvania,” the source told CNN.

An FBI surveillance team tracked him for four days before his arrest while law enforcement worked with prosecutors to develop enough probable cause to obtain a warrant, two law enforcement sources said.

Genetic genealogy techniques were used to link Kochberger to unidentified DNA evidence, another source familiar with the case told CNN. The DNA was run through a public database to find matches to potential family members, and subsequent investigative work by law enforcement led them to the suspect, the source said.

Kohberger was arraigned Friday morning in Pennsylvania and is being held without bond, records show.

Kohberger intends to waive his extradition hearing to expedite his transport to Idaho, Monroe County Chief Public Defender Jason Labar said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.

“Mr. Kohberger is eager to be exonerated of these allegations and looks forward to resolving these matters as quickly as possible,” LaBar said.

LaBar later told CNN that Kohberger arrived in Pennsylvania around Dec. 17 to celebrate the holidays with his family.

“His dad actually came out (to Idaho) and they came home together,” LaBarre said.

He said Kohberger’s white Hyundai Elantra was found at his parents’ house, where authorities took him into custody early Friday. LaBar said his client’s father, Michael, answered the door for police. Father and son were cooperating, he said.

LaBar said he recommended his client be psychologically tested before trial.

Brian Koberger

Kohberger is in a cell alone, LaBar said, and is “under 24-hour surveillance by security there to ensure his safety.”

LaBar said the extradition hearing is “a formality.” He said all the Commonwealth had to prove was that his client resembled or was the person in the arrest warrant and that he was in the area at the time of the crime.

LaBarre said he spoke with Koberger for about an hour Friday night, discussing where he was at the time of the murders. “Knowing, of course, that they probably had location data from his cell phone that already put him on the Washington-Idaho border,” LaBarre told CNN, “it was obviously an easy decision because he’s not disputing that he’s Brian Koberger.”

Koberger is “a little shocked,” LaBarre said.

LaBar added, “We don’t really know much about the case. I don’t have an affidavit or probable cause. I didn’t want to discuss the case with him because I’m just his representative on this procedural matter of whether or not he wants to be extradited back to Idaho.

Even with the suspect charged, law enforcement’s work is far from over, prosecutors said.

“This is not the end of this investigation. It’s actually a new beginning,” Thompson said Friday night.

Thompson urged people to continue reporting, asking anyone with information about the suspect to “come forward, call the tip line, report anything you know about him to help the investigators.”

After the murders of the four students – Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 some community members have grown frustrated that investigators have yet to offer a thorough account of how the night unfolded. Authorities have released limited details, including the victims’ activities leading up to the attacks and the people they have ruled out as suspects.

Frye told reporters Friday that state law limits the information authorities can release before Koberger makes his first appearance in an Idaho court. The probable cause affidavit — which details the factual basis of Kohberger’s charges — is sealed until the suspect is physically in Latta County, Idaho, and served with the Idaho warrant for his arrest, Thompson said.

Kohberger is a resident of Pullman, Washington, a town only about nine miles from the scene of the murders, authorities said. His apartment and office at Washington State University’s Pullman campus were searched by law enforcement Friday morning, the university confirmed in a statement.

In June 2022, he completed graduate studies at DeSales University, where he was also a student, according to a statement on the school’s website. He also earned an associate degree from Northampton Community College in 2018, the college confirmed to CNN.

LaBar called Kohberger “very intelligent.”

The attorney said he spoke with Koberger’s family Friday night for 15 to 20 minutes.

“They are also very shocked,” he said. “Uncharacteristic of Brian … the FBI, the local police, the Idaho State Police were at their house around 3 a.m. yesterday, knocking on the door and announcing to come in, to their real shock and awe.”

In a Reddit post removed after Kohberger’s arrest was announced, a student researcher named Bryan Kohberger, who was associated with a DeSales University study, requested participation in a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making in committing a crime’.

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

CNN reached out to one of the study’s lead researchers, a professor at DeSales University, but they declined to comment on the matter. The university did not respond to requests for comment.


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