Theorizing isn’t easy to avoid when such a massive crime like this happens, and absolutely nobody knows why someone would do something like this. Nothing makes sense because we don’t know the whole story yet, the one person who does says they didn’t do it, and nothing about this will ever make sense because murdering human beings is a senseless act.
From the outside looking in, Moscow seems like a quaint, strong, and fiercely loyal town that the residents are proud to be a part of, and their loyalty and strength to each other through this tragedy and its investigation have not gone unnoticed.
Overall my goal was to pay attention to the facts like press releases and major news outlets that cross and fact checked their information, avoid the theories regarding things like 4chan and Reddit (that wasn’t easy) and to try to flesh out the facts. That also made it hard when theories seemed to make perfect sense- because some things just make sense. Some of the things posted theory wise also seemed so wildly specific that it was hard not to believe them. And when the arrest was finally made, it was shocking to find out it was a person nobody had even heard of and nobody suspected.
Here are all of the things I used to learn about this story
Press Releases, documents, and videos from the Moscow Idaho Police Department
Nov. 13, 2022 City of Moscow Homicide Victims: Police released the official statement sharing that they “responded to a call on King Road for an unconscious individual” and upon their arrival they discovered four individuals who were deceased. They shared their names, where they were from, and that they were students from the University of Idaho. They shared that they were investigating, “details were limited” and they did not believe the community was at risk “based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation.” They also said “currently, there is no one in custody.” When comparing this information to the recently released probable cause affidavit, it does not appear that they had a suspect yet (it would make sense that they didn’t, this presser was released the day of the murders).
Nov. 14, 2022 Mayor Bettge Expresses Condolences to the Community: The mayor offered his condolences to the community, but added “At this time, there is only limited information that can be shared without jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation.”
Nov. 14, 2022 Updated Contact Information for City of Moscow Homicide: A press release updated the public with new contact information and added a new phone number for the media line specifically for this case.
Nov. 15, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update repeated how police arrived and what they found. It revealed that the cause of death for the deceased they found was homicide. They added that no weapon had been located but they believed it to be an edged weapon like a knife based on preliminary information. It said autopsies were scheduled for later that week for more information regarding the cause of death. It also added, “based on information from the preliminary investigation, investigators believe this was an isolated, targeted attack and there is no imminent threat to the community at large.” Detectives shared that they were working to re-create the timeline of events for the activities of those murdered starting the evening of Nov. 12 through the morning of Nov. 13 when they were found. The goal was to follow all leads and identify any persons of interest. Again, they said “Currently, there are no suspects in custody.” This was when they added they were working with the Idaho State Police and FBI.
Nov. 15, 2022 Moscow Homicide Investigation: MPD released another update on Nov. 15th to address the community’s fears and stated, “We determined early in the investigation that we do not believe there is an ongoing threat for community members. Evidence indicates that this was a targeted attack.” They added that at that time they shared every piece of evidence they could without compromising the investigation. They went into detail about how they were working with other resources and were attempting to solve this case as soon as they could. Nothing was added about a suspect.
Nov. 16, 2022 City of Moscow, ID Police Department Homicide Investigation Press Conference:
Nov. 17, 2022 Latah Coroner Press Release: Cathy Mabbutt, R.N., B.S., J.D., Latah County Coroner released the coroner’s report for the deaths of Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Madison Mogen. Ages, biological sex, and hometowns were all shared. Their place of pronounced death was 1122 King Road in Moscow, Idaho with a cause of death as homicide-murder by stabbing.
Nov. 18, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update had information about the victims’ activities the night before the murders took place. Regarding Kaylee and Madison, police said “On the evening of November 12th, Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen were at a local bar called The Corner Club at 202 N. Main Street, in downtown Moscow, between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. on November 13th. At approximately 1:40 a.m., Kaylee and Madison were seen on video at a local food vendor called the “Grub Truck” at 318 S. Main Street and used a private party for a ride home from downtown to arrive at their 1122 King Road residence at 1:45 a.m.” Regarding Ethan and Xana, police said “Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were seen at the Sigma Chi house on the University of Idaho Campus at 735 Nez Perce Drive. At approximately 1:45 a.m., Ethan and Xana are believed to have returned to the residence at 1122 King Road. It was previously reported that Ethan resided at the home; however, it has been determined that he was only visiting.” It was added that “two other roommates were at the residence that night.” The coroner concluded that the victims were likely asleep and “some” had defensive wounds. Detectives reported they did not believe the roommates or a male seen at the Grub Truck with Kaylee and Madison were involved at that time. They shared that they searched nearby dumpsters and were inquiring about the purchase of a knife with local businesses. This update went into details about the manpower on the case as well as the tips they were sorting and still seeking out. They added, “Currently, there are no suspects in custody, and the weapon has not been found.”
According to the affidavit released, Kohberger registered his car’s license plates with the state of Washington this day after it had been previously registered with Pennsylvania. He received a new license plate with different letters and numbers.
Nov. 19, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update started to add new information as well as what they deemed important at the very beginning of the press release. The press release was released and then updated at 8:28 p.m. to clarify to the public that the cell phone that was used to dial 911 belonged to a surviving roommate and that the identity of the caller would not be released due to the ongoing investigation. New information revealed that a private driver took Kaylee and Madison home and was not believed to be involved at that time, that the two surviving roommates had been out that night and returned home by 1 a.m. and “The two did not wake up until later on November 13.”
This was later found to be presented in a way that led the public to believe both roommates had slept through the attack once the affidavit was released. What wasn’t redacted revealed that one roommate who had a bedroom on the second floor was awake and witnessed the alleged killer leave through the sliding glass door. It’s possible she did go to sleep until the next day, meaning this statement in the press release is not untrue.
Regarding the 911 call, the MPD stated that the call originally requested aid for an unconscious person and that the call was made from inside of the residence. It was revealed that the victims were located on the second and third floors of the house. The multiple phone calls made by Madison and Kaylee to a male were said to be part of the ongoing investigation. MPD shared areas where they were looking for camera footage from local businesses.
One of these areas was West Palouse River Dr (south boundary) which the affidavit later revealed was likely the path of the involved vehicle leaving the scene of the crime.
Old information was then shared.
Nov. 20, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: The first bulleted update went into greater detail surrounding the morning of the discovery. Police stated, “the surviving roommates summoned friends to the residence because they believed one of the second-floor victims had passed out and was not waking up. At 11:58 a.m., a 911 call requested aid for an unconscious person. The call originated from inside the residence on one of the surviving roommates’ cell phone. Multiple people talked with the 911 dispatcher before a Moscow Police officer arrived at the location. Officers entered the residence and found the four victims on the second and third floors.” This does not clarify who believed who was passed out, who made the call, or anything of that nature.
At this point social media was working to determine those things but the information was/is vital to the investigation so it’s likely been redacted from the affidavit. People at this point believed one of the surviving roommates was sleeping on the first floor but the affidavit would reveal she was in fact on the same floor as Ethan and Xana. Police press releases never shared the locations of the bedrooms for the surviving roommates. In addition, according to the affidavit, police would not set their sights on Bryan Kohberger for another 9 days, meaning the surviving roommate’s witnessing of the alleged murderer that nobody had identified could have massive consequences to harming the case if that information was in fact revealed.
Police added that they did not believe anyone at the residence that morning were involved in the murders. This was also the first time MPD addressed the rumors and speculation happening. They urged the public to not rely on rumors and said they were working to keep the public informed. They said they were trying to add context to the night of the murders and asked “Anyone who observed notable behavior, has video surveillance, or can provide relevant information” to come forward. It was again stated that no suspects were in custody.
Nov. 20, 2022 Media Community Advisory: As the case started to gain national attention, MPD updated the public on how to get certain information regarding giving tips, how to get press releases, and how the media can contact them.
Nov. 21, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update shared in the very beginning how people could share electronic tips with the FBI like photos, videos, social media posts, etc. It added that a dog had been located at the residence and was found to be unharmed, turned over to animal services, and then released to another party. The discovery of a recent incident regarding a skinned dog was brought up and determined to have no relation to this case. Much of the information in the press release remained the same.
Nov. 22, 2022 Blaine Street Incident: On Nov. 22 there was an incident involving a female who said she opened her car door and found a male sitting in the front passenger seat of her car. She slammed the door and ran from the car screaming, then called 911. She was with her sister at the time and people came to assist. They did not find anyone in the area and police closed the case as “unfounded.”
Nov. 22, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update touched on the possibility of victim Kaylee Goncalves having a stalker. Police said they could not verify or identify a stalker. Police said again they believed the knife to be a “fix-blade” knife.
Nov. 23, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: Police state again in this press release that the male Kaylee and Madison called multiple times was not believed to be involved with the murders. Police say that while Kaylee mentioned she had a stalker, they were unable to verify these claims and asked for the public’s help. They also stated “Detectives are looking for context to the events and people involved in these murders. Anyone who observed notable behavior, has video surveillance, or can provide relevant information is asked to call the Tip Line.”
Nov. 23, 2022 Press Conference Update:
Nov. 25, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This press released touched on two stabbings that have happened in the past and explained that it’s unlikely they’re related to these stabbings. They added how much evidence they have received via the FBI digital evidence submission link as well as the fact that they had sent over 100 piece of physical evidence to a lab for testing.
It would be discovered later through the affidavit that one of these items was likely the sheath left behind at the scene of the crime, which police believe had Bryan Kohberger’s touch DNA on the button. At that time, any DNA would belong to an unknown individual. On Nov. 25, 2022 law enforcement were asked to look out for the white car.
Regarding a suspect, the press released reads, “At this time, no suspect has been identified and only vetted information that does not hinder the investigation will be released to the public. There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts. We encourage referencing official releases for accurate information and updated progress.”
Nov. 27, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update shared that there had been an increase in calls due to the community being fearful and police asked that if anyone suspected an emergency, they call 911 before notifying family and friends. A link was also shared for the vigil held for the victims, and that contains all memorial information as well as ways to donate to different things in honor of the victims.
Nov. 28, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update addresses the media questions surrounding a nearby death that was ruled an overdose. It also addressed a Mustang reported as being processed as part of the investigation, which police said was incorrect. MPD repeated the same information about looking for context about the night of the murder from anyone who may have seen anything.
What we now know from the affidavit is that police were aware of an unidentified man being inside of the house because a surviving roommate who was awake said she saw him. The public was unaware of this piece which is why they may have had information that was important to the investigation and the context of events surrounding the time of the murder.
Nov. 29, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: Police shared that they relocated five vehicles from the scene of the crime to a more secure area where they could continue processing evidence. Again, like many before this one, the press release stated “At this time, no suspect has been identified and only vetted information that does not hinder the investigation will be released to the public.”
However, at 12:28 a.m. that same day “Washington State University (WSU) Police Officer Daniel Tiengo, queried white Elantras registered at WSU. As a result of that query he located a 2015 white Elantra with a PA license plate reading LFZ-8649. The vehicle was registered to Bryan Kohberger residing at 1630 NE Valley Road, Apartment 201, Pullman, Washington. [The address] is approximately three-quarters of a mile from the intersection of Stadium Way and Cougar Way (the last camera location that picked up the white Elantra),” according to the affidavit.
At 12:58 a.m. WSU Officer Curtis Whitman was looking for white Hyundai Elantras and located a 2015 white Hyundai Elantra at 1630 NE Valley Road in Pullman in the parking lot. [This address] is an apartment complex that houses WSU students. Officer Whitman also ran the car and it returned to Kohberger with a Washington tag. [The officer writing the affidavit] reviewed Kohberger’s Washington state driver license information and photograph. This license indicates that Kohberger is a white male with a height of 6′ and weighs 185 pounds. Additionally, the photograph shows that he has bushy eyebrows. Kohberger’s physical description is consistent with the description of the male [the surviving roommate] saw inside the King Road Residence on Nov. 13.
Nov. 30, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: The first update released this day stated “Regarding the interview with Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson, we feel his responses were messaged to support the implication that new information had been released. Specifically, generalized statements regarding the potential of targeted victims and the involvement of drugs were redefined into an affirmative answer.” This was clarified with a second statement released that evening stating, “Conflicting information has been released over the past 24 hours. The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office stated the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence, and that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted. We have spoken with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office and identified this was a miscommunication. Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate.”
The was exactly one day after Kohberger’s car had been identified and police began looking into him as a potential suspect. The affidavit also revealed that the phone number registered to Kohberger pinged in the King Road area where the murders occurred at least 12 times before the early morning hours of the murders. The affidavit said it pinged again later in the morning after the murders had already occurred in that area.
The press release also stated, “At this time, there is no change or new information in this case, and references otherwise would be inaccurate. We ask the public to refer to the Moscow Police Department website for any updates on the investigation.” Again, this was released one day after they began looking into Kohberger, according to the affidavit.
Dec. 1, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This press release stated, “We remain consistent in our belief that this was a targeted attack, but investigators have not concluded if the target was the residence or if it was the occupants. We continue receiving inquiries about comments made by Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson, who said the suspect(s) specifically looked at the victim’s residence and that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted. The Moscow Police Department is the only provider of official information regarding this case.”
At this point, police were investigating Kohberger, and it appears the retracted/clarified statements made initially were found to be accurate. Whether they backtracked as a way to not make what they knew obvious is unknown, but they had made it abundantly clear that very little information would be released in order to preserve the integrity of the case.
Again, this press release stated that there were no suspect(s) identified at this time (which is not the exact same thing as a person of interest) and any information vetted that could be shared would be.
Dec. 2, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: The update lets the public know that the house is still considered a crime scene that will remain under police control. A private security company was hired to provide security. They added that a sixth roommate had moved out prior to the school year starting and they did not believe they were involved. Again, they stated at that time no suspect had been identified and only vetted information that did not hinder the investigation would be released to the public.
Dec. 3, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update shared the exact data regarding tips that the police and FBI were going through. It also again stated there was no identified suspect.
Dec. 5, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: The MPD addressed how the absence of information was frustrating for the public and that speculation would naturally occur from this. They added that they had not released any additional information to the family or the public. They said, “the Moscow Police Department is committed to providing information whenever possible but not at the expense of compromising the investigation and prosecution.” Police shared that they were looking for what happened while Xana and Ethan were at the Sigma Chi house. The also stated that they may have identified the incident where Kaylee believed she was being stalked at a local business. The incident they described was in mid-October when two males were seen in the business before separating and one looked as if he followed Kaylee into the business and again when she left to go to her car. He did not appear to make contact with her and police followed up with the males in question. They said they were attempting to meet women at the business and verified this in fact was true. They believe it was an isolated incident and did not involve continued stalking. Police addressed the dog found and said it was located in a room where the crimes had not been committed. They added there was no indication that the dog had entered the crime scene, but where the dog was when the murders took place was not clear. Again, no suspect was identified in this press release.
Dec. 6, 2022 Police Chief James Fry update:
Dec. 6, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This press release shared that starting Dec. 7 and potentially into the next day police would be removing the victims belongings that were no longer needed for the investigation. They said the house is still an active crime scene. They stated that they were still looking to investigate the context of the evening, specifically the investigation not the activities and that no suspect had been identified.
December 7, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This press release would be the first press release stating that police needed the public’s help locating a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra. They stated the license plate was unknown. They shared the driver of the vehicle may have critical information regarding the case.
This information was released on Dec. 7, 2022 but as previously stated, the affidavit revealed that police had identified the owner of a 2015 white Hyundai Elantra who’s physical description matched that of the person the surviving roommate witnessed in the home the morning of the murders. What’s also interesting is that police were asking for a 2011-2013 Elantra, when at this point WSU Police had identified a 2015 Elantra.
The police shared the following images to show the public what they were looking for:
Dec. 8, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This press release stated that the number of tips coming in about a white Hyundai Elantra were so high they directed them to the FBI call center. Other than that, there wasn’t much information shared.
Dec. 8, 2022 Interview with Moscow Police Chief James Fry:
Dec. 9, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: The press release states that the police were aware of and monitoring the online activity related to the rumors and misinformation being spread. Additionally, they were aware of and watching harassing and threatening behavior toward potentially involved parties and reminded the public that anyone threatening or harassing someone online or in person could result in them facing criminal charges. Police thanked the public for their help in tips regarding the white Elantra. Again, the press release states, “At this time, no suspect has been identified and only vetted information that does not hinder the investigation will be released to the public.”
Dec. 9, 2022 Interview with Moscow Police Chief James Fry:
Dec. 10, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This press release focused on commencement weekend approaching and the MPD verified they would be present during this time.
Dec. 10, 2022 Interview with Moscow Police Chief James Fry:
Dec. 12, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: No new information has been released at this point and the police continue to remind people to stay safe and aware. Again, no suspect has been identified.
Dec. 12, 2022 Interview with Captain Roger Lanier:
Dec. 13, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: One month after the murder, police shared that they continued to piece together what happened in the hours leading up to the crime to determine who is responsible.
According to the affidavit released, this is the same day that cameras show Kohberger’s vehicle driving through Loma, Colorado. It was picked up with a license plate reader. At this point, his vehicle had already caught the attention of investigators at the end of November.
Dec. 13, 2022 Interview with Captain Roger Lanier:
Dec. 15, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: No new information released, police continue to thank the public for providing tips on the 2011-2013 white Elantra. Police also share that they have asked for any and all video footage from all residents and businesses whether there’s motion in the footage or not.
On this date, according to the affidavit, Kohberger’s Elantra was run by police in Hancock, County Indiana.
Dec. 15, 2022 Interview with Captain Roger Lanier:
Video of Indiana Police body camera footage:
Dec. 16, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: MPD shared that they have gone through most of the digital content gathered from the critical cameras before and after the homicides happened, but they continue to sort through digital content submitted. Again, police said the tips regarding the Elantra were important and were now asking for surveillance video footage from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday Nov. 13, 2022. (It was later revealed in the affidavit that they believed the murders took place after 4 a.m.)
According to the affidavit released, Kohberger’s car and the sole occupant of the vehicle who matched a description consistent with Kohberger were spotted on surveillance footage at 2:26 p.m. on this date in Albrightsville, PA where his family lives.
Dec. 16, 2022 Interview with Police Chief James Fry:
Dec. 19, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: The press release for the 19th stated that progress was continuing to be made in the search for the white Elantra and that tips or leads where not made public. Again, the release stated no suspect had been identified and that only vetted information would be released to the public as long as it did not hinder the investigation.
Dec. 19, 2022 Interview with Chief James Fry:
Dec. 20, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: No new information is released, however, an update is given regarding a white Elantra located in Eugene, Oregon and that speaking with the owner led police to believe it was not the car they were looking for. Police asked the public to stop contacting the owner.
Dec. 20, 2022 Interview with Chief James Fry:
Dec. 22, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: No suspects had been identified and MPD stated that progress was still being made on the Elantra.
Dec. 23, 2022 the affidavit reveals investigators were able to obtain a search warrant for Bryan Kohberger’s phone.
Dec. 24, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: No new information.
Dec. 27, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: This update shared that a civil lawsuit was happening between a female associate professor and a TikTok user for defamation. They also went over the validity of digital media published online. Police still asked for information from the public and said progress was being made on the Elantra. No suspects have been identified.
While no suspects were identified to the public, during this time investigators were looking into Kohberger’s phone records after they received a search warrant.
This same day the affidavit revealed that PA agents removed trash from the Kohberger residence and sent it to a lab for testing.
Dec. 28, 2022 the affidavit revealed that the Idaho State Lab reported that a DNA profile obtained from the trash and the DNA profile obtained from the sheath identified a male as not being excluded as the biological father of the suspect profile. It added that at least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father.
Dec. 29, 2022 Moscow Homicide Update: It was announced that starting Friday, Dec. 30, the King Street residence would remain an active crime scene, but they would start crime scene clean up to remove biohazards and substances that were used to collect evidence and could be harmful. The press release added that police continued to work through tips and were still focused on collecting any information as well as making progress on the Elantra.
On this same day, the probable cause affidavit was signed and submitted by Brett Payne to ask for the warrant to arrest Bryan Kohberger.
Dec. 29, 2022 Interview with Police Chief James Fry:
On Dec. 30, 2022 an arrest was made in the murders of Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, and Madison Mogen
Dec. 30, 2022 Arrest made in Moscow Homicides Investigation: According to the press release, while working with the Pennsylvania State Police and FBI, 28-year-old Bryan Christopher Kohberger was arrested in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania on a fugitive from justice arrest warrant. He was charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of felony burglary for entering a residence with the intent to commit murder. It was shared that he was a resident of Pullman, WA and a graduate student at WSU. Because the arrest was made out of state, the probable cause affidavit that contained the evidence used to arrest Kohberger was going to remain sealed until he faced a judge in the state of Idaho.
Documents released after the investigation resulted in an arrest:
- Court order regarding conduct and media in the court room
- The process for court and what to expect
- The nondissemination order resulting in MPD no longer speaking to the public or the media
- The affidavit in its entirety
The press conference following the arrest of Kohberger: