Arrest in student murders in Idaho: Bryan Christopher Kohberger wants to forgo an extradition hearing after being arrested in Pennsylvania

CHESTNUTHILL TWP., Pa. — A suspect arrested in connection with the killing of four University of Idaho students plans to forgo an extradition hearing so he can be quickly taken to Idaho to face charges of murder, his defense attorney said Saturday .

Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. Student and teaching assistant at the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, was taken into custody early Friday morning from the Pennsylvania State Police at his parents’ home in Chestnuthill Township, authorities said.

Bryan Kohberger

Monroe County Correctional Facility

Bill Thompson, a prosecutor in Latah County, Idaho, said during a Friday news conference that investigators believe Kohberger broke into the University of Idaho dorm near campus “with intent to commit murder.” The bodies of the students – Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin – were found on November 13, several hours after investigators believe they died.

The arrest in the troubling case brought a sense of relief to the small college town in north Idaho after weeks of little information being released by police. But it’s also raised questions about whether the suspect knew the victims, what he’s been doing in the weeks since the killings, and how authorities tracked him down in Pennsylvania.

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Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen were killed off campus at the University of Idaho.

Obtained from CNN

Kohberger’s attorney, chief defense attorney Jason LaBar, said Kohberger plans to tell a judge in Monroe County, Pennsylvania Tuesday that he will forego his extradition hearing so that he can be rushed to Idaho to face the charges, and he waiting to be exonerated.

LaBar also warned people not to pass judgment on the case until a fair trial is held. The case has sparked massive speculation on social media, with would-be investigators often attempting to blame the deaths on various friends and acquaintances of the victims.

“Mr. Kohberger has been charged with very serious crimes, but the American justice system shrouds him in a veil of innocence,” LaBar wrote in a prepared statement. “He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise – not tried in the court of public opinion.”

TIED TOGETHER: What we know about the alleged Idaho college murders

Neighbors of the Kohberger family in Chestnuthill Township, Pennsylvania, told The (Scranton) Times-Tribune on Friday that they were shocked to see police vehicles outside the home.

Eileen Cesaretti, who lives across the street, said she loves Kohberger’s parents and their son, who helped her and her husband around the house when he got home from school.

“I don’t think he’s capable of that. I pray to God he’s innocent,” Cesaretti said.

Nephi Duff lives next door to Bryan Kohberger in a Washington State University apartment complex for graduate students and families. He told Spokane, Wash.-based television station KREM2 that recent crimes, such as the Moscow murders, had made him feel insecure.

“I don’t remember ever seeing him around,” Duff said of Kohberger. “I thought I was going to move to a safe, small community, but that hasn’t been the case lately. I’m just thinking, when these things are happening right under my nose, how do I protect (my family)?”

CLOCK | Idaho authorities update public following arrest of college murder suspect

BK Norton, a student in WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, said Friday that they don’t know Kohberger well but don’t like him.

“We exchanged views in class, but personally I wasn’t a fan of Bryan because he made comments about LGBTQ+ people,” they said in an email to The Associated Press. “He was a bit off but I always thought it was because he was awkward and trying to fit in. I don’t know anything about Bryan personally, but I think he was from the PA and was interested in forensic psychology.”

Thompson, the Idaho prosecutor, has asked anyone who knows Kohberger to call the police hotline to share the information.

“Call the hotline, report everything you know about him to help investigators and ultimately our office and the court system to understand everything there is to know not just about the person but what happened and why,” Thompson said.

Federal and state investigators are now combing through Kohberger’s background, financial records and electronic communications while working to identify a motive and build the case, a law enforcement official who has been unable to publicly discuss details of the ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of the Anonymity. Investigators are also interviewing people who knew Kohberger, including those from WSU, the official said.

TIED TOGETHER: A timeline of the murders of 4 University of Idaho students

Kohberger is being held without bail in Pennsylvania and will be held without bail in Idaho upon his return, Thompson said. The affidavit on four counts of first-degree murder in Idaho will remain sealed until his return, the prosecutor said. He is also charged with burglary in Idaho. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Students – Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington—were members of the university’s Greek system and close friends. Mogen, Goncalves, and Kernodle lived in the three-story apartment building with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were together and he visited the house that evening.

Autopsies revealed that all four were probably asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. According to police, there were no signs of sexual assault.

Ben Roberts, a graduate student in WSU’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, described Kohberger as confident and outgoing, but said it seemed like “he was always looking for a way to fit in.”

“I honestly had just rated him as super awkward,” Roberts said.

Roberts started the program in August — along with Kohberger, he said — and has had several classes with him. He described Kohberger as wanting to appear academically.

“One thing he almost always did was find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said.

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Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Balsamo reported from Washington. news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York; reporters Mark Scolforo and Brooke Schultz in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Michael Kunzelman of Silver Spring, Maryland; and Martha Bellisle in Seattle also contributed.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Laura Coffey

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