Suspected killer Bryan Kohberger has appeared in court in Idaho for the first time charged with the murders of four University of Idaho students who were found butchered in their beds in the small college town of Moscow.
The 28-year-old criminology PhD student was led into Latah County Courthouse just before 9.30am PT on Thursday morning for his initial appearance before the Latah County Magistrate Court judge.
At the arraignment, he will be read his rights and the charges against him and will be assigned a public defender if necessary. It has already emerged that he will be represented by public defender Anne Taylor – an attorney best known for securing the overturning of a murder conviction because of false statements made by Idaho police.
Mr Kohberger – who plans to fight the quadruple homicide allegations – will not be asked to enter a plea at the hearing.
He will be served his arrest warrant and, after that, the probable cause affidavit can be unsealed – a document that will finally cast light on what evidence led investigators to accuse him of brutally murdering Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.
While the details have been kept under wraps up until now, a source has revealed that police deliberately pulled Mr Kohberger and his father over twice on their 2,500-mile journey from Washington to Pennsylvania so that officials could “look at his hands”.
The 28-year-old’s father had travelled to meet his son in Washington state – where he had just completed his first semester on the criminal justice graduate at Washington State University – before the pair began the drive to Pennsylvania together.
During that journey, the father and son were pulled over twice by police in Indiana on 15 December.
A law enforcement source told Fox News that police in Indiana had been asked by the FBI to pull the suspect over in his white Hyundai Elantra.
According to the source, the FBI was seeking images of the suspect’s hands as part of the investigation into the murder case.
It is not clear why images of Mr Kohberger’s hands were important to the investigation or if the officers managed to obtain anything of interest by carrying out the stops on 15 December.
Two weeks later on 30 December, the criminology student was arrested in an early-morning raid on his family home in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where he had gone to spend the holidays. He was held in jail in Monroe County for six days before he waived his extradition rights at an extradition hearing on Tuesday and was flown from Pennsylvania to Idaho on Wednesday.
Bodycam footage from the two December stops was released this week, showing the suspect appearing startled to be pulled over by the officers in his white Hyundai Elantra – a vehicle at the centre of the murder investigation and something believed to have ultimately led to his arrest.
Footage from the first stop was released by the Hancock County Police Department on Wednesday, showing the Kohbergers being pulled over at about 10.44am.
In the footage, Mr Kohberger is seen in the driver’s seat and his father in the passenger seat.
The deputy tells the suspect that he was following too closely to a vehicle in front.
During the stop, Mr Kohberger and his father tell the officer about a “mass shooting” which had recently taken place at WSU.
“Yeah, there was a mass shooting,” one of the men says.
Mr Kohberger then goes on to tell the deputy that he works at WSU, with his father interjecting that he is a PhD student.
One day earlier on 14 December, a man had barricaded himself in an apartment near WSU and threatened to kill his two roommates before being killed in a shootout with police.
The deputy let the Kohberger’s go without a ticket.
Minutes later, at about 10.50am, the pair were pulled over for a second time – this time by an Indiana State Police trooper.
In bodycam footage from that incident, the trooper again tells Mr Kohberger and his father that they were trailing too closely behind a truck.
The conversation is largely unintelligible due to road noise, but Mr Kohberger’s father is once again heard telling the officer that his son attends WSU and that there had been a shooting there recently.
Mr Kohberger’s concern over the shooting at his son’s college indicates his lack of awareness that his son would soon be arrested for a quadruple murder.
The father and son also tell the officer that they have just been pulled over by another trooper.
The Indiana State Trooper told Mr Kohberger and his father that he was not giving them a ticket or warning but urged them to be “giving yourself plenty of room” on the road – letting the suspect go.
Indiana State Police said that, at the time of the stop, the trooper had no information linking Mr Kohberger to the murders in Moscow.
However, according to the source, the stop was actually all part of the investigation to collect evidence on the suspect.
It was sometime during this cross-country journey that investigators had begun tracking Mr Kohberger’s movements.
After days of surveillance, a team of agents swooped on the Kohberger’s Pennsylvania family home in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, on 30 December and arrested him for the murders.
His white Hyundai Elantra was also seized during his arrest.
Since early December, Moscow Police had been seeking the public’s help in tracking down a white Hyundai Elantra which had been spotted in the “immediate area” of the crime scene at the time of the murders.
Just five days after the murders – on 18 November – Mr Kohberger changed the licence plates on his vehicle.
Licensing records released on Wednesday show that the 28-year-old criminology student registered his vehicle in Washington state on 18 November.
Prior to this, the car had been registered by Mr Kohberger in Pennsylvania, with the plates still fitted with Pennsylvania plates when he was pulled over in another police stop back in August.
During that incident on 21 August, the suspect was stopped by police late at night just minutes from the home where he allegedly knifed the four students to death three months later.
A citation from Latah County Sheriff’s Office, obtained by The Independent, reveals that the traffic stop took place at around 11.40pm at the intersection of West Pullman Road and Farm Road in Moscow. The record shows he was stopped for failing to wear his seatbelt.
It is not clear what Mr Kohberger was doing in the area at the time – just 1.7 miles and a five-minute drive from the home on King Road where the victims were murdered after returning from a night out on 13 November.
Mr Kohberger is now being held in the Latah County Jail in Moscow on four counts of first-degree murder and one burglary charge.
Officials have so far remained tightlipped about Mr Kohberger’s connections to the four victims and it is not clear if he knew or interacted with them prior to allegedly killing them.
Police sources told CNN that the Washington State University PhD student and teaching assistant was linked to the savage attack when the white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene was traced back to him. His DNA was then also matched through genetic geneology techniques to DNA found at the crime scene, the sources said.
The murder weapon – a fixed-blade knife – is yet to be found.
As a criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University, he lived just 15 minutes from the victims over the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman.
He had moved there from Pennsylvania in August and has just completed his first semester.
Before this, he studied criminology at DeSales University – first as an undergraduate and then finishing his graduate studies in June 2022.
While there, he studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-wrote the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with him.
He also carried out a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime”.
He reached out for participants on Reddit, with the chilling survey resurfacing in the wake of his arrest.
“In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience,” the post said.
His arrest marked a huge break in the seven-week-long investigation into the murders which rocked the small college town back on 13 November.
The four victims were stabbed to death in their beds with a fixed-blade knife at around 3am or 4am that morning.
Two of the victims were found on the second floor and two on the third floor of the three-storey student rental – a stone’s throw from the University of Idaho campus.
Two surviving roommates slept through the attack in bedrooms on the first floor. The students’ bodies were discovered at around midday.