Former FBI agent shares theory on why roommates were spared in Idaho murders

In the November killing of four college students in Moscow, Idaho, the surviving roommates may have been spared because the attacker ran out of “energy,” according to a former federal agent.

Tracy Walder, who worked as a staff operations officer at the CIA and as an agent at the FBI’s Los Angeles office, helped dissect the murders NewsNation on Thursday after the Idaho Police Department released the probable cause affidavit that led to the arrest of Bryan Kohberger.

Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. Student in the Washington State University Department of Criminology, was arrested December 30 in the November 13 deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Ethan Chapin, 20, and Xana Kernodle, 20. The four were murdered outside of the campus home near the University of Idaho. Kohberger is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one burglary.

Kohberger is said to have met surviving roommates
Police tape Tuesday surrounds a home in Moscow, Idaho, that was the scene of a quadruple homicide in November. Suspect Bryan Kohberger ran into one of the surviving housemates on the night of the murders, police said.
David Ryder/Getty Images

According to a police affidavit, one of the two surviving roommates, Dylan Mortensen, encountered the attacker on the night of the murder. Mortensen reportedly told investigators that she opened her bedroom door multiple times after hearing crying from the other rooms.

After Mortensen opened her bedroom door for the third time, she saw a “black-robed figure” walk past her and out the rear sliding glass doors of the home, police said.

Walder told NewsNation that the killer could have kept Mortensen and another roommate alive because so much energy was expended fatally stabbing four people.

“When you stab four people, it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort,” Walder said, adding that she believes fatigue played a role in the attacker’s escape from the home.

“Personally, I’m not sure based on the evidence released in this probable cause affidavit [the assailant] planned to kill all four, or expected all four to be there,” Walder continued. “That’s what I think [the assailant] might have been in such a daze and state that [they] I just walked right by this roommate and didn’t necessarily see her.”

Police said the suspect also spared one of the victim’s dogs after encountering him in the home. Mortensen told investigators she heard the dog barking on the night of the murders.

Walder also spoke about Mortensen’s “state of shock,” which she described, a feeling the former federal agent said can take hours to “wear off.” According to the police affidavit, the Idaho police were called several hours after Mortensen saw the assailant in the home.

“I know a lot of people are angry with her for not calling the police,” Walder added. “But it’s really hard to put yourself in a situation like that and I’m not sure if she thought in her head that four of her roommates were murdered.”

Kohberger appeared in the Latah County, Idaho District Court Thursday morning and is scheduled to appear in court again on January 12.

news week has reached out to Walder for comment. Former FBI agent shares theory on why roommates were spared in Idaho murders

Rick Schindler

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