Male DNA left behind in a knife sheath was used to link a then-PhD student in Washington state to the November murders of four University of Idaho students, and a surviving roommate found himself basically face face to face with him the night of the murders. according to court documents unsealed Thursday.
A affidavit of probable cause Prepared by Moscow, Idaho, Police Officer Brett Payne explains how investigators used video surveillance in the area to connect the quadruple homicide to a white Hyundai Elantra driven by 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger.
Kohberger was ordered held without bail at his first court appearance Thursday morning in Idaho following his arrest Dec. 30 at his family home in northeastern Pennsylvania. He faces four counts of first-degree murder and robbery, accused of breaking into the student’s rental house with the intent to commit a felony.
The arrest of a suspect about seven weeks after the murders of the students: Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, capped a period of fear and frustration in Moscow’s largely rural university community.
But Kohberger, who was a doctoral student in the department of criminal justice and criminology at nearby Washington State University at the time of his arrest, was not immediately known to have an association with any of the victims.
The murder weapon, believed to be a large fixed-blade knife, has yet to be recovered, Moscow police said.
The newly released court documents also do not suggest a motive for the attack, which Moscow police have said from the outset appeared to be «targeted», though they did not know whether it was a particular occupant or the house itself. killer approach.
Kohberger’s Pennsylvania public defender said last week that the suspect’s family does not believe he was involved and that he was «eager to be cleared of these charges and hopes to resolve these matters as soon as possible.»
Discovery of the knife sheath.
Payne said he arrived at the off-campus apartment building on King Road around 4 p.m. Nov. 13 to help an Idaho State Police forensics team process the crime scene.
As he and another officer moved through the three-story home, Payne said he walked into a second-floor room and saw Kernodle’s body on the floor. She «died from injuries that appeared to have been caused by a sharp weapon,» he wrote. Another person, later identified as his boyfriend, Chapin, was also found stabbed to death in the room.
The agents went up to the third floor and saw a Goncalves dog in a bedroom. Payne said they went to another room where they found the bodies of Goncalves and Mogen in the same bed with «visible stab wounds.»
Then he saw an object, a brown leather knife sheath, on the bed next to Mogen.
«The scabbard was later processed and had ‘Ka-Bar’ ‘USMC’ and the United States Marine Corps eagle globe and anchor insignia stamped on the outside,» Payne wrote. «The Idaho State Laboratory then located a single source of male DNA (suspicious profile) that was left on the press stud on the knife sheath.»
One of the housemates meets the suspect.
When Moscow police asked for the public’s help in the early stages of the investigation, they also said that two other housemates were home at the time of the murders, but were uninjured and not believed to be involved in the crime.
Roommates Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke had come forward in letters shared publicly in early December to say they were struggling to come to terms with why the lives of «four beautiful people» were taken so brutally.
Initial reports from investigators said the two were asleep during the stabbings and that one of their cell phones was used to call 911 just before noon on November 13.
According to the affidavit, Mortensen, identified as «DM,» gave police the most detailed eyewitness account of the hours leading up to the murders.
She heard Goncalves playing with her dog around 4 a.m., and a short time later, she heard her housemate say, «There’s someone here,» according to court documents.
Then, she said, she heard crying in Kernodle’s room and a male voice saying «something to the effect of ‘okay, I’ll help you,'» according to the affidavit.
Kernodle was alive until at least 4:12 a.m. when her cell phone showed she was using TikTok, police said.
At 4:17 a.m., a nearby security camera caught «distorted audio of what sounded like voices or a whimper followed by a thud» while «a dog can be heard barking numerous times,» the statement said. sworn.
«DM stated that she opened her door a third time after hearing crying and saw a figure dressed in black clothing and a mask covering the person’s mouth and nose walking toward her,» according to court documents.
She «described the figure as 5’10» or taller, masculine, not heavily muscled, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows. The man walked past DM while she was in a ‘frozen shock phase’. The man walked to the rear sliding glass door. DM locked himself in her room after seeing the man.»
It was unclear if the witness said she made eye contact with the black-robed figure.
Based on forensic evidence and interviews, investigators believe all four victims were killed sometime between 4 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. All occupants of the home were in their bedrooms at 4 a.m. time, according to the affidavit.
Police identify a white car
The link to Kohberger began when investigators reviewed security video of the streets around the crime scene and noticed a white Hyundai Elantra drive past the home multiple times just before the murders, then sped out of the area shortly after. heading to Pullman, Washington, home of Washington State University.
Investigators reviewed security video footage on the university campus and noted that the same car was leaving campus before the attack and returning afterward, according to the affidavit.
On November 25, Moscow police alerted law enforcement agencies in the area to be on the lookout for white Hyundai Elantras. Four days later, WSU campus officials noticed an Elantra registered to Kohberger. Armed with a name, investigators consulted Kohberger’s driving record and found that he had been pulled over in Moscow in August. During that stop for a traffic violation, Kohberger provided his cell phone number.
That number allowed investigators to examine where her cell phone had been at the time of the murders.
Additionally, «Kohberger’s photograph shows that he has bushy eyebrows. Kohberger’s physical description is consistent with the description of the male DM he saw inside the King Road Residence on November 13,» according to the affidavit.
The use of the suspect’s cell phone is being investigated
Authorities had obtained a search warrant for used cell phones near the crime scene at the time of the murders, according to the affidavit.
But Kohberger’s phone didn’t turn up in that search. Investigators suspected that he had turned off his phone before the murders.
Another search warrant, issued on December 23, gave investigators the location of Kohberger’s cell phone for the 24 hours before the murders and for 24 hours after. That information showed that Kohberger left his Pullman home a couple of hours before the victims were killed before deactivating or turning off his phone, according to the affidavit. The phone didn’t come back on until after her death, when he traveled from Idaho to Pullman.
A few hours later, after 9 a.m. on November 13, Kohberger traveled from Pullman to an area close to the crime scene and quickly returned home.
Investigators obtained another search warrant, this time to trace Kohberger’s phone further back in time to see if he had stalked any of the victims, contacted them or monitored the King Road home. Those records revealed that Kohberger had been near the King Road home at least 12 times between June and the day of the murders, according to the affidavit. One of those times was just before he was pulled over for the traffic violation in August.
While reviewing his cell phone history, investigators also tracked his car as he drove home for winter vacation. An automatic license plate reader in western Colorado picked up the Elantra on December 13. Indiana police stopped the car on December 15.
The next day, surveillance video showed the Elantra at Kohberger’s family home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, according to court documents.
Researchers look for DNA in the trash
On December 27, police collected trash outside Kohberger’s home.
The evidence was sent to the Idaho State Laboratory for analysis and a DNA profile was compared to the DNA discovered on the knife’s sheath.
According to the affidavit, the DNA recovered from the trash indicates a high probability that it is from the biological father of the person who left the DNA on the knife sheath at the Moscow crime scene.
The researchers did not specify what type of DNA was analyzed. Experts, however, say the evidence made public Tuesday is likely just a small sample of what led them to believe Kohberger is the perpetrator.
Todd Martin, a retired lieutenant with the Texas Rangers, for whom he investigated all kinds of violent crimes, said police never want to reveal more than necessary in their arrest affidavits because they want to maintain a strategic advantage over defendants.
The Moscow Police Department affidavit did just that by connecting enough dots to show probable cause that Kohberger committed the murders, said Martin, who is not connected to the investigation.
There’s likely a lot more evidence — more Elantra sightings, more information about where Kohberger’s phone traveled — that wasn’t included, Martin said.
Howard Ryan, a retired New Jersey State Police investigator and law enforcement forensic consultant, said: «This is to stick it in your pocket and not show your whole hand. They gave him about 10%, enough for a arrest».