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What We’ve Learned About The University Of Idaho Murders From Suspect Bryan Kohberger's Arrest Affidavit
A newly released affidavit reveals chilling details about the murders of University of Idaho students Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin, and Xana Kernodle.
It’s been nearly two months since four University of Idaho students were savagely murdered in their off-campus home, terrorizing the small Moscow community where the killings took place.
Speculation ran rampant as investigators kept many details of the violent crime to themselves as they searched for the killer of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; and Xana Kernodle, 20.
The investigation ultimately led to the arrest of 28-year-old Washington State University PhD student Bryan Kohberger last week at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, where he’d gone to spend winter break.
With his return to Idaho this week to face four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary, authorities released a detailed affidavit that gives chilling details about what one survivor saw the night of the murders, evidence suggesting the victims may have been targeted and what finally led investigators to identify the alleged culprit who cut short the lives of four promising college students.
Here are some of the most shocking details revealed in the document:
One surviving roommate saw the killer the night of the murders
The five roommates who lived at 1122 King Rd., along with Xana Kernodle’s boyfriend Ethan Chapin, returned their off-campus rental home by 2 a.m. in the early morning hours of Nov. 13 after what appeared to be a regular night out.
Two hours later, around 4 a.m., one of the surviving roommates referred to in court documents as D.M. was woken up by what she believed sounded like fellow roommate Kaylee Goncalves playing with her dog in an upstairs bedroom on the third floor.
The roommate would later tell police she thought she heard Goncalves say “there’s someone here.” Investigators believe it’s also possible that D.M. heard Kernodle—who lived on the second floor along with D.M.—make the comment.
The roommate told investigators that after hearing the unnerving statement she looked out her bedroom but did not see anything.
She opened the door again when she heard what she thought was “crying” coming from Kernodle’s room.
“D.M. then said she heard a male voice say something to the effect of ‘it’s ok, I’m going to help you,’” states the affidavit.
The roommate told investigators after hearing the crying sounds she opened her door a third time and saw a figure “clad in black clothing” and wearing a “mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking toward her.” She described the man as being at least 5’10” tall, with “bushy eyebrows” and a slender build.
As she stood in a “frozen shock phase,” the roommate would later tell investigators that the man walked past her and over to a sliding back door, where he slipped out and left the home. She closed her bedroom door and locked it.
Investigators later found a shoe print outside her room that they believe belonged to the killer, authorities said.
The bodies of Goncalves, Chapin, Kernodle and fellow roommate Madison Mogen were not discovered until around noon that day after police said the two surviving roommates woke up and discovered one of the victims “passed out and not waking up” on the second-floor of the home.
Xana Kernodle got a food delivery just minutes before she was killed
Around 4 a.m., Kernodle received a DoorDash order at the house. According to photos obtained by The New York Post, a Jack in the Box bag with Xana’s name scrawled on the front was found inside the house.
The DoorDash delivery driver also confirmed to law enforcement officers that the order had been delivered, according to the affidavit.
A forensic download of her phone showed that she had been using the TikTok app at 4:12 a.m., suggesting that she was “likely awake” at the time, authorities said.
Investigators concluded after reviewing phone records, interviews and surveillance footage near the crime scene that the killings took place sometime between 4:00 a.m. and 4:25 a.m.
Kernodle and Chapin, who had been spending the night with his girlfriend, were both found dead in the same second-floor room later that day. Kernodle’s wounds appeared to have been caused by an “edged weapon,” authorities said.
A finger print found on a knife sheath helped lead investigators to their suspect
Goncalves and Mogen were found dead in a “single bed” in Mogen’s bedroom on the third floor. Both had “visible stab wounds,” authorities said.
Investigators also discovered that a “tan leather knife sheath” was lying on the bed next to the right side of Mogen’s body. The sheath had the words “Ka-Bar” and “USMC” printed on it along with the United States Marine Corps eagle globe and anchor insignia.
The Idaho state crime lab later found a “single source of male DNA” on the left button snap of the sheath, according to the report.
Officers confiscated the Kohberger family’s trash to match DNA to the crime scene
Investigators believe that after allegedly carrying out the brutal murders, Kohberger remained in the area to complete his first semester as a teaching assistant and PhD criminal justice student at nearby Washington State University, before driving with his father to his home state of Pennsylvania in mid-December to spend winter break with his family.
On Dec. 27, Pennsylvania law enforcement agents secretly recovered the family’s trash from their home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania. They sent the items to the Idaho State crime lab for testing.
The next day, the lab reported DNA gathered from items left in the trash identified a male who could not be excluded as the “biological father” of the suspect who left behind DNA on the knife sheath found at the murder scene, according to the affidavit. According to authorities, at least 99.9998% of the population would have been excluded from the possibility of being the biological father of the DNA source.
Investigators also used surveillance footage to link Kohberger to the crime
Authorities also uncovered surveillance footage of a white Hyundai Elantra, that appeared to match the description of Kohberger’s vehicle, circling the King Road home several times in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, beginning at 3:29 a.m. After the fourth time around the neighborhood, investigators said the suspect attempted to park in front of the home at 4:04 a.m. before driving eastbound down Queen Road.
The same vehicle is spotted leaving the area “at a high rate of speed” at approximately 4:20 a.m. and heading toward Pullman, Washington, according to the court document.
Authorities were able to trace the vehicle’s travel back to the Washington State University campus. A sedan matching the vehicle’s description was spotted on the WSU campus at around 5:25 a.m. that morning.
Just five days after the murders, Kohberger allegedly changed the vehicle’s license plate from a Pennsylvania plate to a Washington plate, investigators said. The Pennsylvania plate had been set to expire at the end of November.
He allegedly returned to the murder scene hours after the killings
While Kohberger’s cell phone appeared to be turned off at the time of the murders, investigators said the phone records did place him near the Moscow home just hours after the murder.
According to the affidavit, records showed he had been near the crime scene between 9:12 a.m. and 9:21 a.m., authorities said. The phone then appears to travel back toward his residence in Pullman, Washington.
Kohberger allegedly stalked the victims before their deaths
The cell phone records also revealed that Kohberger may have been stalking the victims months before their death, according to the affidavit.
Between June and the day of the murders, a phone number linked to Kohberger was in the area near the 1122 King Road home “on at least twelve” prior occasions, according to the affidavit.
“All of these occasions, except for one, occurred in the late evening and early morning hours of their respective days,” authorities said.
One on occasion months earlier on Aug. 21, investigators said the phone was near the King Road home from about 10:34 p.m. to 11:35 p.m.
A law enforcement source also told People that Kohberger had been following at least two of the victims on Instagram before their deaths.
Kohberger tried to get an internship at the Pullman Police Department
Months before the murders, Kohberger had applied to be an intern at the Pullman Police Department. He wrote in his application, submitted in the fall of 2022, that he hoped to “assist rural law enforcement agencies with how to better collect and analyze technological data in public safety operations.”
Kohberger, who also holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and cloud-based forensics, also once posted a Redditt survey asking for participants to provide information “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision making when committing a crime.”