Several key revelations came out of the affidavit connecting arrested suspect Bryan Kohberger to the Nov. 13 fatal stabbings of four University of Idaho students.
In an extended interview with Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast, former homicide detective Fil Waters and Law&Crime’s Angenette Levy, live from Moscow, Idaho, broke down the top five most shocking revelations within the 19-page document.
1) Kohberger’s DNA was found on knife sheath
When Moscow Police’s Brett Payne entered the room victims Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen were sleeping in, he noticed a “tan leather knife sheath laying on the bed next to Mogen’s right side,” he wrote in the affidavit.
The sheath was stamped with “Ka-Bar,” “USMC” and the United States Marine Corps eagle globe and anchor. The Idaho State Lab found Kohberger’s DNA on the button snap.
In a previous Sidebar interview, Waters demonstrated what the then-rumored murder weapon, the Ka-Bar knife, looked like and how it fit into the developing narrative.
“When we first talked about this, I showed you the Ka-Bar that I have, that same type of sheath sitting in my office at my home,” Waters explained. “I just think it’s interesting that as brilliant as [Kohberger] has been portrayed to be, that he has left that piece of evidence behind at the scene.”
Agents also went to the Kohberger family residence located in Albrightsville, PA, where they dug through the trash to send out for testing. The DNA profiles of the sheath and the trash were a close match to his father, Michael Kohberger. According to the affidavit, “At least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father.”
Levy said there’s still no indication of where the knife was purchased or whether Kohberger’s father was in the military.
“This is the type of thing where you could probably find this online or the pawn shop,” she suggested.
2) Kohberger possibly spotted by one of surviving roommates night of murders
D.M., as the roommate was referred to throughout the affidavit, recalled that she heard who she thought was Goncalves say something to the effect of ‘There’s someone here.'”
She opened her door a few times, once after hearing what she “thought was crying coming from [Xana] Kernodle’s room.” She said she also heard a male voice say something like, “It’s ok, I’m going to help you.”
After hearing crying a third time, she opened the door to find a figure in black clothing and a mask covering their mouth and nose. D.M. described the figure as “5′ 10″ or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows.” He walked by her as she stood frozen, according to the document.
It has been reported that D.M. did not call the police for several hours. Fil Waters believes we don’t know what D.M. was thinking in the moment, as “people do different things under stress,” he said.
“And while it’s detailed in the affidavit that she saw these things, we don’t know that he saw anything,” Waters continued. “He’s moving around in the dark. He’s got this mask over his nose and his mouth. He’s already done what he’s going to do or he’s on his way to do it. He’s already focused on where he’s headed and whether it’s to leave it.
“And remember, it’s dark in there. Certainly what it indicates to me is that he didn’t see her. She saw him, which was certainly to her benefit.”
3) Kohberger was tracked by his cell service
On the night of the murders, Kohberger’s cell phone was active at 2:42 am at his home in Pullman, WA. Several minutes later at 2:47 am, the phone was reported to begin traveling south, consistent with the path of the suspected white Elantra.
The network was later disabled and didn’t reappear until about 4:48 am.
Payne wrote in the affadavit: “Based on my training, experience, and conversations with law enforcement officers that specialize in the utilization of cellular telephone records as part of investigations, individuals can either leave their cellular telephone at a different location before committing a crime or turn their cellular telephone off prior to going to a location to commit a crime.”
Levy said she found the cell phone evidence to be significant.
“One of the key pieces there is the fact that his cell phone pinged off of a tower on the night of the murders at certain points in time,” she said. “But during a period of time in that window, there’s no signal from this cell phone.”
Waters called this “good old-fashioned detective work.”
“One of the first things they’re going to do – is that they’re going to go out there and they’re going to try to draw from any kind of video surveillance evidence that they can draw from,” Waters explained. “And that’s exactly what they did in reference to the cell phone. I guess he was brilliant enough to turn it off when he was in there doing what he was allegedly doing. But he wasn’t smart enough or didn’t think about the fact that he needed to turn it off the entire time that he was making his reconnaissance of that structure and those people.”
Records also showed that Kohberger’s cell service was detected by the victims’ home on “at least twelve occasions prior to Nov. 13. 2022.” One of them was at 11:40 pm on Aug. 21, when he was pulled over for a seatbelt violation.
“Why is he out and about at 11:40 p.m. at night? So the cell phone evidence in this case, I think is very significant,” Levy added. “I don’t think you can hang your hat on it entirely. It’s just another kind of piece of the mosaic that is going to, you know, paint this picture that they kept talking about.”
4) White Elantra drives by victims’ home several times before murders
The suspected white Elantra was tracked from Kohberger’s home in Pullman, Washington, to the victim’s home in Moscow, Idaho. It was also reported to have passed their home three times before stopping at the supposed time of the murders.
“These sightings show suspect vehicle I makes an initial three passes by the 1122 King Road residence and then leave,” according to the affidavit. “Suspect vehicle 1 can be seen entering the area a fourth time at approximately 4:04 a.m.”
5) Kohberger studied criminology, posted survey about criminal activity
The affidavit also listed Kohberger’s academic resume, which included his current status as a Ph.D student in Criminology at Washington State University. His undergraduate degrees were in psychology and cloud-based forensics.
Last fall, he applied for an internship at the Pullman Police Department.
“Kohberger wrote in his essay he had interest in assisting rural law enforcement agencies with how to better collect and analyze technological data in public safety operations,” according to the document.
It also mentioned that he posted a Reddit survey asking participants to “provide information to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision making when committing a crime.”
His criminology studies and the survey were among the first pieces of information Levy found after Kohberger was arrested last week. Levy also learned that one of his undergraduate classes was taught by Katherine Ramsland, an expert in serial killers.
“So we learned that the police were on to all of this,” Levy explained. “The whole time they were telling us they didn’t have a suspect. They were on to him.”
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