More details have emerged about Bryan Kohberger, the man suspected of killing four University of Idaho students, including reports that he was studying for a PhD in criminology and that he underwent a personality shift in high school that his friends found troubling.
Authorities said Kohberger was arrested early Friday morning by the Pennsylvania State Police with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, at a home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, around 2,500 miles away from the scene of the crime.
Kohberger has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary in the Nov. 13 slayings of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, who were all stabbed to death.
The victims’ bodies were found on Nov. 13 in their beds in their off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, with the grisly crime sending a shock wave through the small college town.
Fears of a repeat attack prompted nearly half of the University of Idaho’s over 11,000 students to switch to online classes and leave the city. Safety concerns also led the university to hire security to escort students across campus.
The case, which police described as “very complex and extensive,” initially appeared to mystify law enforcement, though officials have now said they were guarded in their release of information so as not to alert the suspect to investigators’ progress.
“This was a very complex and extensive case. We had developed a clear picture over time and we stand assured that the work is not done, This has just started,” James Fry, Moscow Police Chief, told reporters at a press conference Friday.
Fry added that investigators are still looking for all the evidence, including the murder weapon.
Kohberger is being held without bond in Pennsylvania, where he’s awaiting extradition to Idaho, police said.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said investigators believe Kohberger broke into the students’ home “with the intent to commit murder.”
Thompson added that this is “not the end” of the investigation but a “new beginning,” asking the public to come forward with tips to help investigators and the courts to “understand fully everything there is to know about not only the individual, but what happened and why.”
Kohberger is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, which is a brief drive across the state line from the University of Idaho.
He graduated from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania with an associate of arts degree in psychology in 2018, said college spokesperson Mia Rossi-Marino.
DeSales University in Pennsylvania said that he received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed graduate studies in June 2022.
Ben Roberts, a graduate student at Washington State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology told The Associated Press that Kohberger seemed “super awkward” and was “always looking for a way to fit in.”
Roberts said he had several classes with Kohberger and described him as wanting to appear academic.
“One thing he would always do, almost without fail, was find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said.
‘Quiet and Deadpan’
Fellow student BK Norton told The New York Post that Kohberger seemed smart and was particularly interested in forensic psychology.
Norton noted that when the subject of the murders came up in class discussions, he recalled Kohberger remaining “quiet and deadpan.”
“I’m still in shock! I didn’t think Bryan was capable of this,” Norton told the outlet.
Justin Williams, a 34-year-old employee at Washington State University who lives in an adjacent building to Kohberger, told Fox News that he rarely saw the suspected killer.
“I’d see him go check his mail, that was it. Other than that, I’ve only seen him like twice the whole time, and I’ve lived here since July 2021,” Williams said, who added that Kohberger’s behavior seemed normal and he saw “nothing unusual” in the way the accused murderer carried himself.
Andrew Chua, a graduate student who lives at the Washington State University housing complex where Kohberger lives, told the outlet that he hadn’t noticed anything unusual “at all” in the weeks since the slayings took place.
‘Always Wanted to Fight Somebody’
Kohberger’s former high school friend told The Daily Beast that the suspected killer was a slightly overweight “down to earth” teen during their junior year but then got lean and developed an “aggressive” personality.
Nick Mcloughlin, of Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania, told the outlet that their friendship fell apart after Kohberger started taking boxing lessons and started picking fights.
“He always wanted to fight somebody, he was bullying people. We started cutting him off from our friend group because he was 100 percent a different person,” Mcloughlin told the outlet, adding that the group was baffled by Kohberger’s personality shift.
Following the murders, Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt described the slayings as an ambush and said that they appeared to have been “personal” as each victim was stabbed a number of times.
“It has to be somebody that’s pretty angry in order to stab four people to death,” she said in mid-November.
Autopsies showed all four victims were likely asleep when they were attacked though some had defensive wounds.
Police said there was no sign of sexual assault.
Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.