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What we know so far about the investigation into the Idaho college student murders

The Idaho Student Murders
The Idaho Student Murders 40:44

Watch "48 Hours: The Idaho Student Murders."

On Dec. 30, 2022, Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in Pennsylvania and charged with four counts of murder in connection with the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students who were found dead on Nov. 13 at a home in Moscow, Idaho. 

An investigator said in an affidavit unsealed on Jan. 5 that Kohberger's DNA was found on a knife sheath at the crime scene. In the court document, Brett Payne, a police corporal in Moscow, Idaho, also said cellphone data shows that in the months before the attack, he was in the area of the victims' home multiple times.

A judge entered pleas of not guilty on Kohberger's behalf at his arraignment on May 22. Prosecutors announced June 26 they would pursue the death penalty in the case.

Here's what we know so far. 

Who was arrested?

Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old graduate student in criminology, was arrested at his parents home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, on a fugitive from justice warrant on Dec. 30, 2022. He faces four counts of first-degree murder and a count of felony burglary, Idaho officials announced.

Kohberger did not fight extradition and was returned  to Idaho on Jan. 4, 2023.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger
Bryan Christopher Kohberger was taken into custody in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Dec. 30, 2022, in connection with November murders of four University of Idaho students. Monroe County Correctional Facility

Kohberger appeared in an Idaho court on Jan. 12 and waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, with his defense team asking the court for time to prepare for the case. A grand jury indicted Kohburger on May 17 on the same four murder charges he was already facing.

At his arraignment on May 22, Kohberger did not respond when the judge asked him in court how he pleaded to the charges, which led the judge to enter not guilty pleas on his behalf. 

Investigators haven't disclosed a possible motive or said whether they think Kohberger knew any of the victims. The four students killed were identified as Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.

Location data from Kohberger's cellphone showed he had traveled to the area of the victims' residence at least a dozen times between late June and the night of the killings, authorities said. 

At the time of his arrest, Kohberger was listed as a Ph.D. criminology student and teaching assistant at Washington State University's Pullman campus, which is a short drive from Moscow, Idaho. He completed a bachelor's degree at DeSales University in 2020, then did further graduate studies at the university until June 2022, a statement from DeSales confirmed. 

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University responded to the news of Kohberger's arrest with a statement saying it was "deeply saddened" by the deaths and "equally shocked by the news that a student in our program is now a suspect in the case. Members of the department are cooperating with law enforcement officials to provide information pertinent to the ongoing criminal investigation." 

It continued, "We look forward to the criminal justice process being carried out as this case progresses. Our hearts remain with the victims' families."

Mother calls for death penalty in Idaho college students murder case 06:04

Monroe County chief public defender Jason LaBar, who represented Kohberger for the extradition, said Kohberger was eager to be exonerated and described him as "an ordinary guy." 

LaBar previously shared a statement on behalf of the suspect's parents and two sisters, on New Year's Day. Acknowledging the arrest and the charges against him, Kohberger's family said they "will continue to let the legal process unfold" and confirmed that they "have fully cooperated with law enforcement agencies in an attempt to seek the truth and promote his presumption of innocence." They also recognized "the families suffering loss." 

"First and foremost we care deeply for the four families who have lost their precious children. There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray each day for them," Kohberger's family said in the statement, which was obtained by CBS News. 

One of Kohberger's neighbors in Pullman, Washington, said the suspect spoke to him about the news of the killings days after they occurred. 

"He brought it up in conversation," the neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told CBS News on Jan. 11. "[He] asked if I had heard about the murders, which I did. And then he said, 'Yeah, seems like they have no leads. Seems like it was a crime of passion.'"

"At the time of our conversation, it was only a few days after it happened so there wasn't much details out," the neighbor said.

In Kohberger's Washington apartment, investigators executing a search warrant found a pillowcase with reddish-brown stains, hair strands and a black nitrile-type glove, among other items.

What happened the night of the crime?

Police responded to a report of an unconscious person that they received around 11:58 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13. There, members of the Moscow Police Department found four University of Idaho students dead on the second and third floors of the home. 

Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves and Xana Kernodle were roommates who lived in the home, while the fourth victim, Ethan Chapin, did not live there but was dating Kernodle. Two other roommates lived in the home, but were not attacked and police said they believe they slept through the killings. 

Idaho student murders: Remembering the victims 04:36

On Saturday night, police said, Chapin and Kernodle were at a party at a Sigma Chi house on the University of Idaho campus. They returned home around 1:45 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13.

Mogen and Goncalves were at a bar called The Corner Club in downtown Moscow that night. They left the bar, stopped at a food truck, and then also returned home at about 1:45 a.m., police said. 

Investigators are confident about the accuracy of Mogen and Goncalves' reported whereabouts throughout the night — witnesses say they saw both women at the club, described as a popular nightlife spot for university students, and video footage from a livestream confirmed their visit to the food truck. Leaked screenshots, allegedly taken from surveillance cameras and shared widely online in December, appeared to show Mogen and Goncalves at the nighttime venue called the Corner Club at around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 13. 

Police tape outside the house where four University of Idaho students were killed
Four University of Idaho students were found murdered at this home in Moscow, Idaho, on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.  Angela Palermo/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The two surviving roommates who lived in the house were out separately in Moscow and returned home by 1 a.m. on Nov. 13, according to police. Neither of the surviving roommates were publicly identified for weeks after the murders took place, until the duo shared a letter at a memorial service in early December. 

The timing of multiple calls to the cellphone of Kaylee Goncalves' ex-boyfriend placed the murders sometime after 3 a.m. The coroner said that the victims were likely asleep. Some had defensive wounds, and each person was stabbed multiple times. There was no evidence of sexual assault, police said. 

An investigator said in court documents, unsealed on Jan. 5, that a woman who lived at the home awoke to the sound of crying that night to find a masked man in black clothing who walked past her and toward a sliding glass door. The unidentified housemate, who wasn't harmed in the attack, told authorities she opened her second-floor door at around 4 a.m. after hearing the crying and then stood in "frozen shock" as the man, whom she didn't recognize, walked past her, the police investigator said. She then went back into her room and locked the door. 

What have investigators said about the evidence?

The investigator named in the affidavit — Moscow, Idaho Police Cpl. Brett Payne — also said that Kohberger's DNA was found on a knife sheath found at the crime scene. According to an affidavit he wrote, agents recovered trash from the Kohberger family residence in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania on Dec. 27 and sent evidence to the Idaho State Lab to be tested. The next day, a DNA profile obtained from the trash was compared to the DNA profile obtained from the sheath.

"At least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect's biological father," the affidavit said.

Investigators said surveillance footage captured near the home showed a white sedan — later identified as a Hyundai Elantra — drove by the home three times in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, returning a fourth time at about 4:04 a.m. The car was next spotted on surveillance cameras leaving King Road 16 minutes later "at a high rate of speed," Payne wrote. The same car was later spotted on a different camera headed toward Pullman.  

Moscow Police Chief James Fry said a 911 call was made using one of the surviving roommates' phones, but he would not confirm the caller's identity. In a later statement, police said the 911 dispatcher spoke to multiple people, including the two roommates and people police identified as "other friends" before Moscow police arrived on the scene. 

Who were the victims?

Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, was a senior at the university, majoring in marketing. Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, was also a senior, with a major in general studies. The two met as sixth graders and were best friends, Kaylee's father, Steve Goncalves, told a crowd of hundreds who attended a vigil for the slain students.

"They went to high school together, then they started looking at colleges, they came here together. They eventually got into the same apartment together," Steve Goncalves said. "And in the end, they died together, in the same room, in the same bed."

Ben Mogen, Madison's father, said at the vigil she was his only child, so "everything she ever did was such a big deal." Talking about "Maddie" was his pride, Mogen said, and the two loved attending music concerts together.

Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho, was a marketing major and a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. Ethan Chapin, a 20-year-old freshman from Mount Vernon, Washington, was a member of Sigma Chi. He majored in recreation, sport and tourism management, according to the school.

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

Ethan Chapin was part of a set of triplets with a brother and sister, said his mother, Stacy Chapin. The family always tried to eat dinner together when time allowed, she said, and described spending countless hours taking the kids to various sporting events when they were younger. The triplets chose the University of Idaho because they wanted a small town and a beautiful campus with a thriving Greek system, she said.

In a letter written by the two surviving roommates and read aloud by their pastor, they called Chapin and Kernodle's relationship "unstoppable" and "perfect" before praising the foursome. 

"You were all gifts to this world in your own special way, and it just won't be the same without you," Funke's letter said.

Scenes in Moscow, Idaho after four students found dead in their residence
A small frame remembering Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves sits in the snow outside of the residence where the four students were killed on November 13 in Moscow, Idaho, U.S., November 30, 2022. LINDSEY WASSON / REUTERS

Numerous people cleared by investigators

In the course of their investigation, police publicly cleared several people. The two surviving roommates and the "other friends" who called 911 are not believed to have been involved in the killings, police said; a sixth person also listed on the home's lease moved out at the beginning of the school year and has also been cleared. 

Several people who the students crossed paths with before their deaths, including a man seen in the background of surveillance footage at a food truck and a "private party" who drove Goncalves and Mogen home, have also been cleared. Police also do not believe Goncalves' ex-boyfriend is a suspect, despite the early-morning phone calls. 

After Rebecca Scofield, an assistant professor at the University of Idaho who chairs the school's history department, filed a defamation lawsuit against TikToker Ashley Guillard for spreading allegedly false and baseless statements claiming the professor was involved in the murders, Moscow Police also seemed to clear Scofield's name in a Dec. 27 news release.

"At this time in the investigation, detectives do not believe the female associate professor and chair of the history department at the University of Idaho suing a TikTok user for defamation is involved in this crime," authorities said in the news release. "The Moscow Police Department will not provide a statement about the ongoing civil process."

Scofield filed the defamation suit in Idaho's federal district court on Dec. 21, after Guillard — a tarot card reader who purports to solve "mysteries," mainly focusing on high-profile murders, on her TikTok page — shared numerous videos between late November and late December accusing the professor of having a role in the brutal killings and a romantic relationship with one of the students, many of which garnered tens of thousands of views. In court documents, Scofield's attorneys said she had never met or taught any of the four students who were killed, and was in Portland, Oregon, with her husband on the night of the murders.

In an update shared on Dec. 5, Moscow Police said investigators had identified an incident between Goncalves and a man, who they did not publicly name, that "may have been the stalker reference she made to friends and family." Detectives did not find evidence suggesting that there was a pattern of stalking linked to this specific incident, according to the police.

"In mid-October, two males were seen inside a local business; they parted ways, and one male appeared to follow Kaylee inside the business and as she exited to walk toward her car. The male turned away, and it did not appear he made any contact with her," police said. 

"Detectives contacted both males and learned the two were attempting to meet women at the business," the update continued, adding that additional probing led investigators to "believe this was an isolated incident and not an ongoing pattern of stalking." There is no evidence that suggests either of the men was involved in the murders, police said.

On Nov. 16, Fry told reporters that investigators believed it was "a targeted attack." In the ensuing days, however, police did not clarify that comment, or explain how they could make that statement without a suspect. Alivea Goncalves, the sister of victim Kaylee Goncalves, told NewsNation on Nov. 28 that police had not explained that to the families either.

Were Idaho students targeted in quadruple murder? Authorities make conflicting statements 02:01

"Law enforcement is kind of throwing around this word 'targeted,' but we don't know what that means, and it almost makes it feel alienating because we don't have any more information on that," Goncalves said. "I don't know who that target was, if it was one of them, if it was all of them. I just don't know."

In a statement on Nov. 30, the department appeared to walk back their earlier claims while addressing recent conflicting comments made by Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson, who had said at least one of the victims was "undoubtedly targeted" in the attack. The department called Thompson's comments the result of a "miscommunication." 

Later that week, police clarified that they still believed the attack was targeted, "but have not concluded if the target was the residence or its occupants."

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