Criminology postgrad charged with murdering 4 University students

The suspect is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary in connection with the deaths of the four undergraduate students
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Representative image Reuters

WASHINGTON: A criminology graduate student from Washington State University has been arrested in Pennsylvania and charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students more than six weeks ago, authorities said on Friday.

Police acting on a fugitive arrest warrant took Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, into custody on Thursday night, according to James Fry, chief of police in Moscow, Idaho, where the University of Idaho campus is located. Fry said Kohberger has a home in Pennsylvania.

Kohberger was arraigned in eastern Pennsylvania and remained jailed without bond pending a hearing on Tuesday to determine whether he will waive extradition and return voluntarily to Idaho to face charges, Latah County, Idaho, prosecutor Bill Thompson told reporters.

Thompson said the suspect is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary in connection with the deaths of the four undergraduate students. Fear has gripped the small college town since Nov. 13, when the victims, three women and a man, were found slain in an off-campus house where they spent the night.

"This is not the end of this investigation. In fact it is a new beginning," Thompson told a news conference.

The victims - identified as Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho - all suffered multiple stab wounds, Fry said. Some of the bodies also showed defensive wounds, Fry said, suggesting they had tried to fend off their attacker.

The cellphone of one of two surviving roommates was used to call emergency-911 to report the crime, the police chief said.

The victims appeared to have been killed with a knife or some other "edged" weapon, police said at the time. Fry said the murder weapon has not been recovered, though police have found a car they had been searching for in connection with the killings.

Authorities said Kohberger was a graduate student, with an apartment residence, at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, Washington, about 10 miles from the University of Idaho campus. He was listed on the WSU's website as enrolled in the criminal justice and criminology department.

Moscow, a town of 25,000 residents in the neighboring panhandle of northwest Idaho, was shaken as state and local police and the FBI worked to solve the crime over the last six weeks.

Asked at the press conference in Moscow whether authorities there were seeking additional suspects, Fry said, "We have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes, and I do believe our community is safe."

Fry said his department received more than 19,000 tips from the public and has conducted more than 300 interviews as part of its investigation. He and Thompson urged anyone who knew anything about the accused killer to come forward.

He declined to offer a possible motive for the crime or to give any details about the investigation, such as how authorities traced Kohberger to Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, a small community in the Pocono Mountains resort region about 90 miles north of Philadelphia, where he was arrested.

Thompson said more details would emerge publicly from a probable-cause affidavit that summarizes the factual basis for the charges but remains under court seal until the suspect is physically back in Idaho to be served his arrest warrant.

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