The Idaho Murders


Charli Martz and Amya Hentschel, Writers

Four University of Idaho students were mysteriously murdered in a house near the Moscow, Idaho campus. Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21. 

According to police, on the night of Saturday, November 12th, Goncalves and Mogen — lifelong besties — visited the Corner Club bar in Moscow. Chapin and Kernodle, who were dating, visited the Sigma Chi house. And there were 2 other roommates — who survived the attack and are not considered suspects — who also went out in Moscow that night.

At about 1:40 a.m. on Sunday, November 13th, Goncalves and Mogen can be seen on video at a Grub Truck, a local food vendor, and got home via another individual (who was also not considered a suspect) at around 1:45 a.m.

Chapin and Kernodle also got home around 1:45 a.m., and even though Chapin did not live at the house, he planned to sleep over with his girlfriend. According to court documents and police investigations, the murders occurred somewhere between 4 a.m. and 4:25 a.m.

According to written statements made under oath, Kernodle got DoorDash delivered to the house at about 4 a.m. One of the surviving roommates said they woke up around 4 a.m. to what sounded like Goncalves playing with her dog, and a little bit after that, the roommate said that “she heard someone she thought was Goncalves say something to the effect of ‘there’s someone here,’” which could have also been Kernodle on her phone based on records showing that she was on TikTok at about 4:12 a.m. 

The roommate said, “she looked out her bedroom but did not see anything when she heard the comment about someone being in the house.” The roommate also said, “She opened the door a second time when she heard what she thought was crying coming from Kerbodle’s room.” The roommate also “heard a male voice say something to the effect of ‘it’s okay, I’m going to help you.” When the roommate opened her door again, she heard crying and saw a man in all black clothing and a mask walk past her.

The roommate said she didn’t recognize the man. She described him as 5-foot-10 or taller, and “not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows.”

On the morning of November 13th at around 11:58 a.m., a call to 911 was made by one of the roommate’s phones, requesting help for an unconscious person. Responding officers then found the four victims when they arrived. Authorities said that they did believe anyone at the house at the time the 911 call was made was involved with the murders.

When authorities reviewed the surveillance video, they saw what seemed to be the suspect’s white Hyundai Elantra drive by the victims’ house three times before entering the area for a fourth time around 4:04 a.m. Police then traced where the car went that night and saw that it traveled back to Pullman, Washington, where a man named Bryan Kohberger lived.

Kohberger’s phone had been tracked and seen heading to Moscow before the attack but was suspiciously off from 2:47 a.m. to 4:48 a.m. He can also be seen returning to the area of the house where the four students were murdered just after 9 a.m., based on phone records. Investigators have also found that Kohberger’s phone has been near the victims’ house at least 12 times before the murder as far back as August, and all of them, except for one, have been late at night or in the early morning.

An autopsy done on November 17th determined that all victims were stabbed multiple times, and were probably asleep when attacked while some had defensive wounds. But thankfully, there were no signs of sexual assault.

From the crime scene itself, it doesn’t seem like there was a lot of information that could lead investigators to find the perpetrator. But the accused made many mistakes along the way that eventually led to his arrest. 

As mentioned earlier, one of the roommates who is still alive noted seeing the masked killer in the house the night of the crime. When she gave her statement to the police she described a man wearing a ski mask with bushy eyebrows. As this was a very vague description nothing could be done with this information… Yet. 

Video footage from cameras in the area saw a white Hyundai driving past the house 3 times at around 4 am before eventually stopping. Then 16 minutes later the car was seen driving away at a high speed. As there was no license plate seen on camera, police in the area were told to be on the lookout for similar cars. 

Two weeks later an officer saw a car matching the description parked outside a student residence belonging to a man named Bryan Kohbergers. Upon further research, it was noted that Bryan was a Ph.D. student in the criminology program at Washington State University. When classmates were interviewed about Bryan many of them said that he showed an extreme interest in serial killers specifically but appeared to be quiet in the recent discussions surrounding the Moscow murders. 

What really led detectives to an official suspicion was his cell phone. Cell phone tower pings show that on the night of the murders, his phone was turned off in the direction of Moscow, and later turned back on about 20 minutes after the murders on a road leading directly out of Moscow. Phone records also showed that he also visited the area numerous times before the attack and also returned to the crime only 5 hours after, before cops were even called later that morning. 

This in itself was a lot of evidence to at the very least bring him in for questioning. When investigators were analyzing the scene the morning of being originally called in there was a knife sheath found. The DNA collected off that was sent to the FBI’s genetic genealogy branch and it had a match leading back to the Kohberger family. 

All evidence was against him at this point, which led investigators to go through the trash at the father of Bryan’s residence on December 27th. When comparing this to the DNA found on the sheath, Bryan’s father had a 99.98% match. On December 30th at 1:45 am, police busted through windows and doors of the Kohberger residence to finally make the arrest. 

Now, the most important question that we’re still waiting for is: Why?