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Suspect arrested in brutal murders of 4 University of Idaho students

Police announce arrest in Idaho murders
Police announce arrest in murders of 4 University of Idaho students 24:38

A suspect has been arrested for the brutal murders of four University of Idaho students, authorities said Friday. Word of the arrest came more than six weeks after roommates Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen and Xana Kernodle were found stabbed to death in their home in Moscow, Idaho, along with fellow student Ethan Chapin.

The suspect, Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, Moscow Police said during a news conference Friday. He is facing four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary, said Bill Thompson, Latah County prosecutor.

Pennsylvania State Police said Kohberger was arrested on a fugitive from justice warrant. He is being held in Monroe County Correctional Facility pending extradition to Idaho, authorities said. 

Officials said they are limited in what information they can release, as the probable cause statement with details of the investigation is sealed under state law until Kohberger has appeared in an Idaho court. He was expected to be back in court in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Thompson said.

Law enforcement sources told CBS News that FBI agents conducted surveillance on Kohberger in Pennsylvania in the days prior to his arrest.

"For a lot of law enforcement, it was a fairly sleepless couple days ... leading up to everything we were doing," Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Friday. "I have faith in those agencies across the nation, I have faith in our officers, I have faith in the FBI, and they did a great job. There was some times, even throughout the day, that we were always concerned."

Kohberger is a graduate student at Washington State University, the prosecutor said. Kohberger was listed earlier Friday on Washington State University's website as a Ph.D. student in the department of criminal justice and criminology at the school's campus in Pullman, Washington, although his name was later taken down. Pullman is about 15 minutes from Moscow, Idaho. 

Bryan Christopher Kohberger
Bryan Christopher Kohberger was taken into custody in Monroe County, Pennsylvania Friday in connection with the investigation into the November murders of four University of Idaho students. Monroe County Correctional Facility

DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, confirmed that Kohberger received a bachelor's degree there in 2020 and completed graduate studies in June 2022. 

The four victims were found around noon on Sunday, Nov. 13, after a 911 call to police reported an unconscious person. Officials had earlier described the murder weapon as a large fixed-blade knife. Police are still looking for the knife, authorities said Friday.

Investigators allegedly used forensic analysis to link Kohberger to the crime scene, law enforcement sources told CBS News.

Mogen and Goncalves were both 21-year-old seniors at the university, and were best friends. The two had been at a downtown bar called The Corner Club that night and stopped at a food truck.

Kernodle, 20, was a junior and dating 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, a freshman. The two had attended a party earlier at the campus house of Sigma Chi, where Chapin was a member.

"Today we are commemorating our Maddie's and her friend Kaylee with relief knowing that she can now be properly laid to rest," read a statement from the Mogen family. Earlier this month, Goncalves' family had announced on Facebook they would hold a "celebration of life" for Goncalves and Mogen at 3 p.m. local time Friday in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.

A flyer seeking information on the murders of four students in Moscow, Idaho
A flyer asks the public for information as police investigate the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students in Moscow, Idaho. LINDSEY WASSON / REUTERS

"This is the news we have been waiting for and a relief for our community and most importantly, the families of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin," University of Idaho president Scott Green said in an email to students and staff following the arrest. "We are grateful for the hard work of law enforcement to protect our community and bring justice."

He said the university does not appear to have any record of Kohberger.

During the course of the investigation, police said they have fielded 19,000 tips related to the slayings, as well as reviewed more than 113 pieces of physical evidence from the home, "approximately 4,000 photographs" and "multiple" 3-D scans that crime scene investigators took, and had conducted more than 300 interviews. They had initially seized three dumpsters and five cars from the crime scene, but had announced earlier this month they would start returning some of the victims' belongings to their families. 

Remediation at the house, set to begin Friday, was halted by the court, said Moscow Police Chief James Fry.

"Since November, investigators have been laser-focused on pursuing every lead in our pursuit of justice. This complex case took extensive work to develop a clear picture of what occurred," he said. Police would not say if any motive had been determined and would not say if they were looking at any other suspects.

Fry said Friday that authorities had located a white Hyundai Elantra. Earlier this month, police had announced they were looking for a white 2011-2013 Elantra in connection with the investigation.

Early on, police had said they did not believe two surviving roommates or the friends who had called 911 had been involved in the killings. They also said they cleared another person, a former sixth roommate who had moved out of the house at the beginning of the school year, and a few other people who had encountered some of the students the prior evening, such as the person who drove Goncalves and Mogen home at the end of the evening. 

Rumors and speculation have swirled about the case, circulating online via social media and TikTok, which law enforcement called "a huge distraction." 

"Tracking down rumors and quelling rumors about specific individuals or specific events that may or may not have happened is a huge distraction for investigators and oftentimes is the result of social media propagation. And it is very, very frustrating to investigators and hard to stay on track," Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier said last week.

CBS News' Pat Milton contributed to this report. 

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