Unsuspected Killer


The holiday season is a stressful time for college students; booking flights, getting your childhood room back, shopping for family and more is all consuming, but for four families, their children won’t be returning home for the holidays this year. November 13th, 2022 was a normal day for most of us. It was even my dad’s birthday. But for the state of Idaho, specifically the community of Moscow, they awoke with a new evil in their town. As the news of four gruesome murders quickly broke, fear spread through the community, the state, and the country. During the early mornings of that frigid November day, four College students, 21 year old Kaylee Goncalves, 21 year old Madison Mogen, 20 year old Xana Kernodle, and 20 year old Ethan Chaplin were brutally stabbed to death by an unknown assailant at the time. 

In an off campus rental house across from the University, the door was left open and inside four bodies were found. Officers were met with blood on the walls of the home as well as two unharmed residents of the home, one of them being the one who made the call to police hours later. One of the victims in the house appeared to have defensive wounds on her hands, indicating she may have put up a fight in the final moments of her life. The investigation of this gruesome quadruple homicide had begun. 

Law enforcement eyes soon landed on twenty eight year old Bryan Kohlberger. He had been at the University since August, studying to get his Ph.D. in criminology and an assistant teacher in a criminal justice course. Benjamin Roberts, who had four classes with Kohberger says that “He seemed comfortable around other people; he was very quick to offer his thoughts and opinions.” Roberts also felt betrayed in a way, “I feel like there should have been signs that I should have seen. And I didn’t … I was blindsided.” Those who attended high school with Bryan were also shocked by this news. One person mentioned that he was actually bullied in school; he was overweight but lost the weight senior year and people noticed a difference in him, but Kohberger had started using heroin and then lost some of his friends, but it was said that after high school he had started to get his life together; he told others that he wanted to be sober and he was going to do better. 

Two of the victims, Maddie and Kaylee were two peas in a pod, always together “a force to be reckoned with ” Maddie’s stepfather, Scott mentioned. The two girls died side by side. Xana and Ethan were also in a relationship; her family members said they had never seen her smile the way she does when she talks about him. “They had something special and everyone knew,” Xana’s sister added. The couple was also found together dead in Xana’s bedroom. 

Early on into the investigation, the police had suspected Kohberger, but kept this to themselves; this did anger many people in the community of Moscow as it made it seem like they had no leads. Questions soared through the town, wondering how he had gotten into the house, a door? A window? So many questions and little to no answers. Many students on campus felt unsafe and returned home, unknowing if they will return for the spring semester. After weeks with no information, families of the victims began to get flustered; they didn’t think the authorities were doing enough and feared these murders would turn into a cold case. 

The officials had put out a request asking that if anyone had seen a white Hyundai Elantra to please report it back to the Moscow police department as they had reason to believe this vehicle belonged to the suspect. November 29th 2022, the vehicle was spotted and tracked for several days. The car belonged to Kohberger. They had pulled Kohberger over along with his father on their cross country trip home to Pennsylvania. But they took no action in arrest, instead gave him a verbal warning for tailgating and let him go. 

On December 30th, Kohberger’s holiday season had come to an end; he was arrested in his family’s home of Albrightsville, PA at three AM; there were approximately 50 officers on scene of the arrest. Bryan was shocked at the time. He was unsure of why the officers were there but complied with the arrest and was aware of the case in Idaho. January third, he had a hearing in PA, he had signed his waiver of extradition and was flown back to Idaho where he is currently being jailed and is currently charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of burglary.  

One piece of evidence that had helped forensic scientists draw a possible conclusion was that Kohberger had left a tan leather knife sheath. There was a single source of male DNA on the strap. This DNA sample matched with trash found from the Kohbergers home. It was a 99.9998% match with Kohberger’s father indicating that the knife belonged to Bryan Kohberger as no one else can genetically have this close of a match without being biologically related. 

The holiday season is not all magic and fun for everyone, especially the year of 2022 for those close to the victims of this gruesome homicide. Remember to hug your loved ones and say your “I love you’s”.  You never know when it could be the last time. The way the justice system works is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, as of now Bryan Kohberger has made no plea deal. The next time he appears in court will be January 12th.