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Crime News University of Idaho Murders

University of Idaho Suspect Reportedly Sent Series Of Messages To Victim On Instagram Before Killings

“He slid into one of the girls’ DMs several times but she didn’t respond,” a source close the investigation told People Magazine. “Basically, it was just him saying, ‘Hey how are you?’ But he did it again and again.”

By Jill Sederstrom
Suspect In University Of Idaho Students' Killings Arrested

The man accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students to death allegedly reached out to one of the victims repeatedly on Instagram before the killings, according to a new report.

An unnamed source familiar with the investigation told People that Bryan Kohberger, who was arrested last month in connection to the murders, had repeatedly sent a series of messages on Instagram to one of the victims just two weeks before the Nov. 13 murders.

“He slid into one of the girls’ DMs several times but she didn’t respond,” the source said. “Basically, it was just him saying, ‘Hey how are you?’ But he did it again and again.”

It’s not clear, however, whether the victim had ever received the messages because they likely went into a separate “message requests” folder, the report stated. Instagram does not notify users when they receive a message request from someone they don’t follow back.

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“We’re still trying to determine how aware the victims were of his existence,” the source said.

Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen

A spokesperson for the Idaho State Police told Oxygen.com they were unable to comment on the report or the case due to a gag order put into place earlier this month that prevents investigators, attorneys and others connected to the investigation from publicly commenting on the case.

A message to Moscow Police was not immediately returned.

Kohberger, a PhD student in criminal justice at the nearby Washington State University, is accused of crossing into Idaho and breaking into an off-campus Moscow residence in the early morning hours of Nov. 13 and killing four of the occupants inside – Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20.

Two surviving roommates, including one who later told police she had a chilling face-to-face encounter with the killer, were not physically harmed in the attack.

Investigators have not released a motive in the attack, but evidence suggests that Kohberger may have been stalking the victims for months before the deadly stabbings.

Bryan Kohberger

Cell phone records indicated that Kohberger had been near the 1122 King Road home where the homicides took place “on at least twelve occasions prior to November 13, 2022,” according to an affidavit in the case previously obtained by Oxygen.com.

He also allegedly followed three of the victims—Kernodle, Goncalves and Mogen—on Instagram using a now-deleted account, People reports.

It’s not clear which of the victims he directly messaged.

“There’s no indication that he was getting frustrated with her lack of response,” the unnamed source told People, “but he was definitely persistent.”

The Goncalves’ family attorney Shanon Gray told Insider earlier this month that “no one” had known Kohberger.

The sentiment was echoed by Goncalves’ sister Alivea Goncalves, who spoke to NewsNation after Kohberger’s arrest and said her sister had not been aware that anyone may have been watching the rental home.

“We had no idea. She had no idea. I had no idea that true evil was genuinely watching,” she said.

Alivea and others are now trying to determine what digital connections Kohberger may have had to the victims.

"I've had a lot of people reach out with Instagram posts or even Spotify or lots of connections that they've been able to find and those are super valuable, all of those go over to the Moscow Police Department as well as the Idaho State Police and the FBI because nothing is insignificant at this point and everything is being looked through," she said.

Kohberger was arrested last month at his parents home in Pennsylvania, where he had gone for winter break, after authorities allegedly linked him to DNA found a leather knife sheath left behind at the crime scene, according to the affidavit.

Investigators were also able to find surveillance footage showing a car matching the description of his vehicle circling the home the night of the murders before trying to park in front of the property, authorities said. The same vehicle was spotted fleeing the area “at a high rate of speed” around 4:20 a.m., according to the affidavit.

Kohberger is currently facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. He has yet to enter a plea.