Twenty-eight-year-old Washington State University grad student arrested near Scranton, Pennsylvania, suspected of killing four University of Idaho students
Law enforcement say — they tracked down an Elantra car, but are giving few details citing Idaho laws that limit comment or affidavit information before the suspect is seen in Idaho courts.
A suspect in the Moscow, Idaho, stabbing homicides of four students has been apprehended south of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Moscow Police Department said in a press conference today.
Twenty-eight-year-old Bryan Kohberger is a Washington State University grad student in nearby Pullman, Wash., Moscow Police Department officials said. WSU officials confirm Kohberger completed his first semester as a PhD student in the university’s criminal justice program earlier this month. Most web pages leading to the university’s criminal justice department are broken or taken down.
“On behalf of the WSU Pullman community, I want to offer my sincere thanks to all of the law enforcement agencies that have been working tirelessly to solve this crime,” said Elizabeth Chilton, chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus and WSU provost. “This horrific act has shaken everyone in the Palouse region.”
Kohberger has been charged in Latah County with four counts of first degree homicide and with felony burglary for allegedly entering the students’ house, with the intent to commit murder. The young people were killed where they slept in an off-campus home on the night of November 13th.
Many details were withheld by police during their press conference in Moscow. They repeatedly said Idaho law requires the suspect to have an initial appearance in court there before more information can be released.
One lingering unanswered question has been if the suspect knew the victims. In a recent interview, Melanie-Angela Neuilly, associate professor and chair of the criminology department at WSU said, “We know that stabbings are much more likely to involve people who know their victims, because it is an act that requires more physical closeness.”
Killing someone, she said, is an intimate act.
“When you're doing it from a distance with a gun, it kind of separates you from the victim, as well as from the act of killing, when you're stabbing people, there is no separation, like you're physically touching the person that you're killing.”
Suspect Kohberger was found in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, ABC News reported. Police said during the presser, they were able to track a car.
“We have found an Elantra,” said Moscow Police Chief Fry. “We’re still looking for all pieces of evidence – we’re still looking for a weapon.”
Bill Thompson, the Latah County prosecutor, said Kohberger has a residence in Pullman. Chief Fry said police were there this morning until a court order halted them.
The case of the four brutal homicides of University of Idaho students in Moscow, has been tough on the small university and wheat-farming towns of Moscow and Pullman. The rural cities are not quite 10 miles apart, connected by Pullman Moscow Highway, which is flanked by grain silos. The twin college towns have been filled with national news satellite trucks for weeks. The University of Idaho – where the slain students were enrolled – is known as the home of the Vandals. For weeks, local businesses have displayed signs that say, “Vandal Strong.”
Wild speculation and misinformation has defined the case – with a Reddit group that’s reached about 100,000 followers. A U of I professor is suing a TikTok influencer for claiming she was involved in the killings.
The students: Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were stabbed in their home off campus. The investigation has been in touch with the victims' families, Chief Fry said, updating them daily.
Police officials said a trial for Kohberger would be upcoming, but his arraignment wouldn’t be until he’s in custody back in Idaho.
“He has had an initial appearance in front of a judge in Pennsylvania,” said Thompson. “He's being held without bond. And the warrant from our magistrate judge here also provides for no bond. We understand that he's scheduled to be back in court in Pennsylvania next Tuesday afternoon.”
Police officials also said since this suspect has been apprehended, they feel better about the case, but that the community should remain vigilant and send in any tips and information. Moscow police said something similar months ago, but later acknowledged they had no suspects at the time.
Vanessa Lopez, a recent U of I graduate who lives near the house in Moscow where the students were killed, said she is feeling a huge relief that there is a suspect in custody.
“The fact that he was still on the run was very anxiety inducing,” she says. “It was nice to finally see that they had a suspect because all of this has been so scary, especially during the holidays because Moscow is pretty empty. Almost nobody's here. So that means being alone in my apartment or in the Moscow area.”
NOTE: Anna King contributed to this report.