University of Idaho homicides update: The case stands one year after 4 college students were stabbed to death
Moscow, Idaho – Monday marks one year since four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in a horrific home invasion that sparked the curiosity of people across the country.
In the early hours of November 13, 2022, roommates Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mugen, and Zana Kernodle, and Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, were murdered inside an off-campus girls’ house in Moscow, Idaho. Two other roommates survived.
After an intense six-week search for the suspect, 28-year-old Brian Kohberger, Ph.D., criminologist. The student at nearby Washington State University was arrested on December 30 at his family’s home in Pennsylvania.
Here’s what you need to know as the case against Kohberger progresses:
The shocking crime
One of the surviving roommates said she woke up around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2022, to what appeared to be Goncalves playing with her dog in one of the third-floor bedrooms, according to court documents.
A short time later, the roommate said, “I heard who I thought was Goncalves say something to the effect of, ‘There’s someone here,'” the documents state. But it could have been Kernodle on her phone because records showed she was on TikTok at about 4:12 a.m., the affidavit said.
Watch: University of Idaho Murders: VisualTimeline
The University of Idaho Murders: A Visual TimelineABC News gathered information from an affidavit released by authorities, verified publicly available evidence and compiled reports to create a visual timeline outlining the events of the case.
The roommate said she looked outside her bedroom but didn’t see anything when she heard the comment about someone being in the house, documents state. “She opened her door a second time when she heard what she thought was crying coming from Kernodle’s room.”
“Then I heard a male voice say something to the effect of, ‘Okay, I’ll help you,'” the roommate said, according to the documents.
Her roommate said she opened her door again after she heard crying, then saw “a person wearing black clothing with a mask covering the person’s mouth and nose walking toward her,” who she described as “5’10” or taller, male, not muscular, but with an athletic build. With bushy eyebrows, he “walked past her” toward the rear sliding glass door while her roommate stood in “frozen shock,” according to a police affidavit.
Who are the victims?
Kylie Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogin, 21, have been lifelong and inseparable best friends. Goncalves was scheduled to graduate in December 2022 and move to Texas.
Goncalves’ sister, Alivia Goncalves, also considers Mugen a sister. She said she was relieved that the best friends were in the same bed together in their final moments.
“If I couldn’t be there to hold their hands and take the pain away from them, at least they had each other,” she told ABC News.
The other two victims were 20-year-old Zanna Kernodle and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Ethan Chapin.
Related: Zana Kernodle was likely awake when he was killed, court records reveal
Chapin was a trio. His brother and sister also attend the University of Idaho.
A surviving roommate said in a statement in December that Chapin and Kernodle were the “perfect pair” who had an “unstoppable love affair.”
“They will both look at each other with so much love,” she said.
Pieces of evidence
After discovering the victims, authorities reviewed surveillance video from the area and saw the suspect’s white Hyundai Elantra drive by the victims’ home three times, before entering the area a fourth time at 4:04 a.m., according to the affidavit.
Police said they traced the vehicle’s path that night to nearby Pullman, Washington, where the suspect had been living while attending Washington State.
Kohberger’s phone was tracked heading to Moscow before the attack and as the driver of the white Elantra returned to Pullman. However, the phone was off from 2:47 a.m. to 4:48 a.m., which is “consistent with Kohberger attempting to conceal his location during the quadruple homicide,” the document said.
His phone had been near the victims’ home at least 12 times before the murders, at least since August, the document said.
The suspect’s DNA was also found on a knife sheath he left on Mugen’s bed, according to documents.
Where does the issue stand?
Kohberger is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. He may face the death penalty if convicted.
Previous Ph.D. The student refused to enter a guilty plea during his trial in May, so the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Kohberger’s attorneys said their client was not at the home where the murders occurred and was driving alone that night.
In August, Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial, indefinitely delaying what was supposed to be an October 2 start date.
No new trial date has been set.
What potential obstacles lie ahead during the trial?
DNA discovered on the knife sheath button found near Mugen’s body is a crucial linchpin for the prosecution in a largely circumstantial case.
Authorities claimed DNA undeniably linked Kohberger to the crime scene, saying the DNA “showed a statistical match” to a cheek swab taken directly from Kohberger after his arrest.
Kohberger’s lawyers have tried to cast doubt on the strength of investigators’ evidence and whether it indisputably points only to their client, including DNA. The defense has repeatedly asked for more information about the genealogical analyzes used to zero in on Kohberger, rejecting investigators’ analysis that the DNA is a statistical match.
Kohberger’s attorneys are also highlighting what they called a “complete lack of DNA evidence” from the victims in Kohberger’s home or car.
Related: A search warrant for the Idaho murder suspect’s apartment has been unearthed in the Washington and WSU office
“There are many layers that make this case unusual — and the defense will attack any aspect of it they see as vulnerable,” David Calvillo, a former New Jersey prosecutor who is now a criminal defense attorney, told ABC. News in August. “It makes sense for them to look at how certain pieces of evidence were presented to the grand jury — whether there were missed steps, corners cut, chain of custody issues, contamination — or not.”
The knife used in the murder was not found.
A series of now unsealed search warrant documents show that investigators sought Amazon purchase records and click history data for one Amazon customer, including “all detailed customer click activity related to knives and accessories,” as well as a long list of information that could capture shopping movements. A complete overview of the customer and their interests on the site, such as items that have been wishlisted or saved for later. If prosecutors can link Kohberger to purchasing a knife that could have been used in the killings, experts say that could help strengthen their case.
What will happen to the house?
The University of Idaho announced last February that the house where the four students were killed would be demolished, with university President Scott Green calling it a “healing step.”
In June, a university spokesman said the school planned to demolish the house before students returned to campus in the fall.
In July, the university announced an abrupt halt to demolition plans after asbestos and lead were removed from the house — and amid objections from some of the victims’ families who expressed concern that demolishing the house before Kohberger’s trial could cause unexpected problems for prosecutors. While trying to get a guilty verdict.
About two weeks after Kuhberger waived his right to a speedy trial in August, university officials decided to postpone demolition of the house until at least the end of the fall semester, which ends in mid-December.
With no new trial date set, prosecutors asked the University of Idaho to access the home.
FBI agents will be at the home on October 31 and November 1 “to obtain documents to create visual and audio renderings and a physical model of the home,” the university said.
“While the university still intends to demolish the house, it will not happen this semester,” the university said on October 31.
(tags for translation)When did the Idaho murders happen