The private driver who dropped Kaylee Goncalves and Maddie Mogen off at their home near the University of Idaho campus just hours before they were stabbed to death in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2022 is “exceptionally glad” an arrest has been made — and tells Law&Crime that he actually saw the white Hyundai Elantra police were looking for last month.
The man, who did not want his named used, read the affidavit charging Bryan Kohberger, 28, with felony burglary and four counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Goncalves, Mogen, Xana Kernodle and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin.
The 19-page document contains chilling details about Kernodle’s death, including a surviving roommate who told investigators that she heard crying coming from Kernodle’s bedroom and a man saying something to the effect of “it’s ok, I’m going to help you.” News of the arrest broke last Friday after nearly seven-weeks of investigation.
“I was surprised but exceptionally glad that some form of resolution is forming,” the private driver said. “I feel exceptionally bad for those parents and our community.”
He was somewhat stunned to learn that Kohberger — who maintains he did not commit the murders — lived near him in Pullman, Washington.
“He lived 1,200 feet from my front door. I spent six weeks trying to convince my wife there was not a threat and I was wrong,” the driver said, adding that his wife still fears walking their dog despite Kohberger’s arrest.
The driver spends much of his days shuttling people around town, so after the killings he kept an eye out for the white Hyundai Elantra. He eventually spotted it at Kohberger’s apartment building sometime after Dec. 7.
“I thought it was too new,” he said of the car, since Moscow Police had asked the public for information about a 2011-2013 Elantra. However, he wrote down the car’s Washington state license plate number and submitted a list of 13 or 14 Hyundai Elantras he had spotted sometime around Dec. 10 through the Moscow PD tip line.
The arrest affidavit stated a Washington State University police officer had identified Kohberger as driving a white 2015 Hyundai Elantra on Nov. 29, and another WSU officer saw the vehicle at Kohberger’s apartment building that same day. The affidavit shows Kohberger was already on law enforcement’s radar before the ride-share driver submitted his list to police.
The driver says the affidavit confirmed what he suspected about the crime. Some of the most chilling details include the revelation that a camera from a home less than 50 feet from Kernodle’s bedroom recorded what sounded like a whimper and a loud thud. Police have previously said some of the victims had defensive wounds, and Kernodle’s father told a news outlet in Arizona that she had fought her attacker.
The affidavit also stated a DoorDash driver had delivered food to Kernodle at 4:00 a.m. and that she was active on TikTok at 4:12 a.m. — during the time the murders are believed to have occurred.
“I suspected from everything that I read that whatever happened in that house was exceptionally violent, far beyond what a scorned lover would do in regard to the sheer violence,” the driver said.
The murders have left Moscow residents in shock and created fear among college students who once felt safe leaving their doors unlocked and walking around town. But the ride-share driver said things have changed, as women he takes home now ask him to stand in their doorway so they can check their windows and doors and look through their homes to ensure no one is there. Those are things that had never happened in the communities of Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington — until now.
Moscow and Pullman are connected by a long winding road. The two cities are essentially like one community, with people traveling back and forth between the two. The driver said many people in Pullman travel to Moscow because the shopping options are better and there is a grocery store and WalMart that are open 24 hours a day.
After learning the names of the student victims, the driver said he went to Moscow Police and provided a receipt showing he’d purchased fast food after dropping off Goncalves and Mogen and told investigators about driving them home. He said people online accused of him murdering the four despite police clearing him as a suspect.
For some time afterward, he felt guilt because he had driven Mogen and Goncalves home that night at 1:56 a.m. only to learn days later that they had been killed. He questioned whether he had been followed, or if he should have done something differently. He said that he had driven Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle many times.
“They were all nice girls. They were always polite with me. They were happy friendly girls. In my opinion, there was nothing bad about them,” he said. “They were all good employees at Mad Greek,” he added, referring to a downtown Moscow restaurant.
The driver said he and many others in the community still feel frustrated by the messages police sent to the public early on in the investigation when they called the murders “targeted” and said the community had nothing to fear. The comments about the crime were later walked back, and police said they didn’t know if the “house or the people inside” were the targets.
“I’m hoping they have an iron-clad case,” the driver said. “I desperately, desperately hope they have this locked down. If they let this guy walk it’s a shame.”
A status hearing for Kohberger is set for Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. At that time, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.
Kohberger remains held without bail in the Latah County Jail. If convicted, he faces the possibility of the death penalty.
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