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Father Of University Of Idaho Victim Says Suspect's Arrest Has Brought 'First Sense Of Joy In Seven Weeks'
Steve Goncalves, who became an outspoken advocate for justice for his daughter, gave a series of media interviews emphasizing how much more there is to learn following the arrest of Bryan Kohberger.
The outspoken father of one of the murdered University of Idaho students has expressed his relief that a suspect has been taken into custody.
Steve Goncalves — whose daughter, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, was murdered alongside her friends Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20 on Nov. 13 — told Fox News that his "first sense of joy in seven weeks" came at hearing Pennsylvania State Police had arrested Washington State University Ph.D. student Bryan Kohberger, 28, in the deaths.
He told ABC News "we are on the path to justice" in the wake of the arrest, referring to Kohberger as "broken soul, pitiful human being."
"The little coward that had finally got caught running," Goncalves added of Kohberger. "I still think everyone's innocent until proven guilty, so I put that in the back of my mind."
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In an interview with NBC News, Goncalves said no one in any of the four victims families knew of Kohberger.
He said he plans to be in court in Idaho for Kohberger's first hearing after his is extradited. (Kohberger is not contesting his extradition from Pennsylvania and could be flown back to Idaho as soon as Tuesday night, NBC reported.)
"This guy's gonna have to look me in my eyes multiples times, and I'm going to be looking for the truth. That's really what I'm going to be looking for," Steve Goncalves told ABC.
"I want him to be sick of seeing us and sick of knowing that these people won't let it go," he told NBC. "You know, it's a battle of wills, and we'll see who wins."
Chapin's family also offered thoughts on the arrest in a statement on Friday, published by ABC.
"We are relieved this chapter is over because it provides a form of closure. However, it doesn't alter the outcome or alleviate the pain," the family wrote. "We miss Ethan, and our family is forever changed."
Kernodle's mother, Cara Northington, also spoke to NBC.
“A lot of the grief was not knowing who this was, knowing whoever was responsible for that is still out there,” Northington told the outlet. “So yeah, this definitely takes a lot of the grief that we were experiencing off our shoulders.”
Kohberger's Pennsylvania lawyer, Monroe County chief public defender Jason LaBar, said the suspect's family is "obviously shocked," NBC News reported.
His father, mother and sister gave a separate statement to media, Oxygen.com previously reported.
"First and foremost, we care deeply for the four families who have lost their precious children,” Michael, Marianne and Amanda Kohberger wrote. “There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray each day for them. We will continue to let the legal process unfold and as a family we will love and support our son and brother.”
Kohberger is facing four counts of first-degree murder, plus one count of burglary in Idaho for allegedly breaking into the young women's Moscow, Idaho rental home and stabbing them and Chapin to death on Nov. 13.
Police believe that the murders happened after sorority sisters Mogen and Goncalves returned to their group home at the edge of campus from a night out and fell asleep together on the third flood. Chapin was sleeping over at the home on the second floor with his girlfriend, Kernodle, after they had attended a party together. Two other housemates asleep on the first floor, Bethany Funke and Dylan Mortensen, were not attacked.
Funke and Mortensen became concerned the following morning after friends arrived and multiple efforts to contact one of the murdered women had been unsuccessful. One of housemates' phones was used to call 911 just before noon to report an unconscious woman. Police entered two of the bedrooms and found the four students dead.
The surviving roommates were quickly ruled out as suspects. They gave emotional statements about their friends at a vigil in early December.
Goncalves was particularly outspoken about what he considered the slow pace of the investigation into the brutal murders, prompting the Moscow Police Chief to detail the level of contact the department had with the victims' families. He has since expressed his regret about the lack of transparency in the investigation to NBC News and apologized to the families.
"I took the responsibility at the very beginning for not getting out into the press and talking about it," he told the network. "That would be a thing I would change in the future."
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