Police arrested a 28-year-old man in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains Friday morning who is charged with murdering four University of Idaho students who were found stabbed to death over a month ago.
Bill Thompson, Latah County Prosecutor, says a criminal complaint was filed Thursday charging Bryan Christopher Kohberger with four counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, who were found at a home in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 13.
Kohberger is also charged with one count of felony burglary.
Kohberger is being held for extradition, according to arrest paperwork filed by Pennsylvania State Police in Monroe County Court. The warrant was issued in Idaho by the Moscow Police Department and the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office.
Kohberger, from Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, was taken into custody after a SWAT team entered the location, law enforcement told reporters. He is being held without bail.
Thompson said Kohberger appeared before a judge in Pennsylvania on Friday, and has another appearance set for Tuesday, Jan. 3.
During a press conference Friday, Thompson, alongside Moscow Police Chief James Fry, pleaded with the public to keep submitting tips.
“This is not the end of this investigation. In fact, this is a new beginning. You all now know the name of the person who has been charged with these offenses. Please get that information out there. Please ask the public, anyone who knows about this individual, to come forward. Call the tip line, report anything you know about him to help the investigators,” Thompson said.
Despite the arrest, officials remained tight-lipped about Kohberger and his relationship to the victims, citing Idaho state law that requires the affidavit and its details to stay sealed until the suspect is extradited.
Kohberger had just completed his first semester at Washington State University, where he was pursuing a doctorate in the school’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, according to the university. He lived in Pullman, about a 15-minute drive from the University of Idaho.
Officers with the Washington State University Police Department executed a search warrant at Kohberger’s campus apartment Friday morning, the university said in a statement.
Records from DeSales University, a Catholic school in central Pennsylvania, also list a man named Bryan C. Kohberger as a graduate with a master’s degree in criminal justice in 2022, and on the dean’s list in spring 2020.
“These murders have shaken our community, and no arrest will ever bring back these young students. However, we do believe justice will be found through the criminal process,” said Fry, calling the investigation “complex and extensive.”
Cleaning crews descended on the house where the students were killed Friday, remediating the property and removing what Fry said were “biohazards.” But shortly into the process, Fry said the cleanup was halted due to a “legal request from the court.”
“We are still looking for all pieces of evidence,” Fry said, including the murder weapon. But he did say officers found a Hyundai Elantra, which in early December they had solicited the public’s help to locate.
Fry said the increased police presence will remain on campus and around the small, college and farming town of about 25,000. He would not answer reporters’ questions Friday asking if there were other suspects, citing Idaho law, but did offer Moscow residents some reassurance.
“I do believe our community is safe, but we still need to be vigilant, right?” Fry told reporters “We always need to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that we’re aware of what’s going on.”
On Nov. 12, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, who were in a relationship, left a Sigma Chi fraternity house and returned to Kernodle’s home at about 1:45 a.m., police say. About 10 minutes later, Kernodle’s roommates Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen returned after a night out at a local bar and street food vendor, according to Fry.
The two surviving roommates were also in the community that night, police say, although they returned home around 1 a.m.
Then, on Nov. 13, a 911 call was made reporting an unconscious roommate. Police arrived to find two victims on the second floor of the house and two on the third floor. All four were dead.
On Nov. 17, an autopsy confirmed the identity of the victims, and declared their cause of death to be from stabbing. The four victims had defensive wounds, police say, and had all been stabbed multiple times.
For the ensuing months, police remained tight-lipped about a suspect and motive. The city’s mayor, Art Bettge, initially told reporters, “The overall assessment is that it’s a crime of passion.”
The case then captured the national spotlight, resulting in an outpouring of tips submitted to police, Reddit forums where conspiracy theories run wild, and at least one lawsuit, after a TikTok psychic accused a University of Idaho professor of killing the students.
The Moscow Police Department, a small force of about 36 officers and civilian support members, also came under fire, accused by internet sleuths and true crime fans of incompetence.
On Friday, Fry said he stands by how the department conducted the investigation, and its decision to not publicize important information.
“I will 100% stand behind the way that we handled this investigation. And this all started from day one with our patrol officers, arriving on scene, locking down the scene, us calling in the Idaho State Police, us calling in the FBI and keeping information that was pertinent to this case very, very tight. We want to have a situation where when this goes to trial, there’s no doubt that we’ve done everything right,” he said.
Thousands of tips poured in, according to Moscow city press releases, forcing the small, northern Idaho department to seek help from an FBI call center.
On Thursday, Moscow police said they have received just over 19,000 tips, most from emails, phone calls and media submissions. Police have also conducted over 300 interviews.