Dec 30 (Reuters) – A Washington State University graduate seeking a degree in criminal justice has been arrested and charged with the fatal stabbing of four University of Idaho students six weeks ago, officials said on Friday.
Police in eastern Pennsylvania arrested 28-year-old Brian Christopher Kochberger Thursday night on a fugitive warrant, according to Police Chief James Fry of Moscow, home to the University of Idaho campus. Fry said Kohberger lives in Pennsylvania.
Kochberger was arraigned in Pennsylvania, waived extradition and remained in custody pending a hearing Tuesday to determine whether he will voluntarily return to Idaho, said Idaho State Attorney Bill Thompson, Latah County District Attorney.
Kochberger was charged with first-degree murder and four counts of burglary in a crime spree that left four victims — three women and a man in his 20s — dead in a small northwest Idaho college town, Thompson said.
All four were found stabbed to death on the morning of Nov. 13 inside an off-campus home where three women lived, two in the same room, and one in the same room as the fourth victim, her boyfriend.
Two other women who lived in the home at the time were apparently asleep at the time of the murder. Police said the cell phone of one of the dead was used to call 911 when the bodies were first discovered.
“This is not the end of the investigation. It’s actually a new beginning,” Thompson said at a news conference.
The victims are Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Xana Kernodle, 20, Avondale, Arizona; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho — all suffered multiple stab wounds, Frye said. Some of the bodies also had defensive wounds, Frye said, suggesting they had tried to defend themselves against an attacker.
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE KILLING
Chapin and his girlfriend, Kernodle, had attended a fraternity party the night before, while Mogen and Goncalves, who are best friends, went to a local bar and food truck. Both couples returned home just before two o’clock in the morning. The other two roommates came home about an hour ago.
Authorities believe the murders took place between 3 and 4 a.m. on Nov. 13.
Police said the victims appeared to have been killed with a knife or other “sharp” weapon. Frye said that although police have located the vehicle they are looking for in connection with the murder, the murder weapon has not been found.
According to authorities, Kochberger was a graduate student at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, Washington, about 10 miles from the University of Idaho campus.
WSU released a statement Friday that its police department and Idaho law enforcement officials searched Kochberger’s residence and office on campus.
It said Kochberger “completed his first semester as a doctoral student in WSU’s criminal justice program earlier this month,” suggesting he stayed on campus a few miles from the crime scene across the Idaho state line for several weeks before returning. to Pennsylvania.
Asked at a press conference in Moscow if authorities were looking for additional suspects, Fry said: “We have one person in custody who committed these terrible crimes, and I’m confident in the safety of our community.”
Fry said his department received more than 19,000 tips from the public and conducted more than 300 interviews as part of the investigation, with the help of state police and the FBI. He and Thompson urged anyone with knowledge of the accused killer to come forward.
He declined to offer a possible motive for the crime or provide any details about the investigation, such as how authorities tracked Kochberger to the small community of Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains resort area about 90 miles north of Philadelphia, where he was arrested. .
Thompson said the documents, which contain the actual basis of the charges, but remain under court seal until the suspect returns to Idaho, pending a warrant for his arrest, will be released for probable cause.
Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Jonathan Allen in New York; Edited by David Gregorio and Neil Fullick
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