Advertisement

Masked man walked past Idaho victims' roommate on night of murders -court document

FILE PHOTO: Bryan Kohberger is escorted to an extradition hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg

By Brendan O'Brien and Joseph Ax

(Reuters) -A woman who lived at the house where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death told investigators she heard someone crying in one of the victim's bedrooms on the night of the murders - and then watched as a masked man walked past her and out of the house.

The harrowing detail was included in a newly unsealed affidavit on Thursday, just before Bryan Kohberger, the 28-year-old doctoral student charged with the November slayings, made his first court appearance in Moscow, Idaho.

The document also said police have linked Kohberger to the Nov. 13 murders using DNA, cell phone data and video footage.

Police initially said two roommates who were unharmed did not wake up until later that morning. The roommates called friends to the house because they believed one of the second-floor victims had passed out and was not waking up. It was not until 11:58 a.m. that a 911 call was made requesting aid for an unconscious person, according to a timeline provided by the Moscow Police Department.

But the new affidavit said one of the surviving roommates awoke about 4 a.m. and twice opened her door when she heard a woman say there was someone in the house. When she opened her door a third time, she told authorities she stood in "frozen shock" as the man, clad in black, passed by her, before she locked herself in her room.

Kohberger, who has been working towards a criminal justice PhD degree at Washington State University, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, faces four counts of first-degree murder and burglary.

He wore an orange jump suit in court and answered "yes" to several questions regarding whether he understood the charges against him. He did not enter a plea and will be held without bail.

A status hearing was scheduled for Jan. 12.

Kohberger was arrested in Pennsylvania last week, where he was visiting his family, and flown to Idaho on Wednesday.

Investigators were able to match DNA recovered from a knife sheath left at the scene with DNA taken from trash at the Kohberger family residence, according to the unsealed affidavit, written by Moscow Police Corporal Brett Payne.

Video footage captured a white Elantra, similar to a car registered to Kohberger, passing the house three times on the night of the murders before the driver attempted to park, Payne wrote. About 15 minutes later, the car was seen leaving at a "high rate of speed."

Tracking data showed Kohberger's cell phone appeared to leave the WSU campus around 2:45 a.m. on the night of the attack before going dead for around two hours, then reappearing south of Moscow and eventually moving towards his campus home, Payne wrote.

The period of time when the phone was not detected is "consistent with Kohberger attempting to conceal his location," the affidavit said.

Data also showed Kohberger's phone was in the area of the victims' Moscow house at least a dozen times between June and November, almost always at nighttime, Payne wrote.

The victims - Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho - all suffered multiple stab wounds, according to authorities. Chapin was Kernodle's boyfriend.

Police have not suggested a motive for the attack.

In a survey posted on the social media site Reddit, Kohberger asked participants to help "understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision making when committing a crime," the affidavit said.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York and Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio and Howard Goller)