A Knife Sheath, a White Sedan and Bushy Eyebrows: How Police Caught the University of Idaho Murder Suspect

Newly released court documents shed light on how police identified the suspect responsible for the brutal murders of four University of Idaho students.


Newly released court documents shed light on how police identified the suspect responsible for the brutal murders of four University of Idaho students.

  • Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested in Pennsylvania last week after a months-long investigation into the murders of University of Idaho students Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, and Madison Mogen last November.
  • The probable cause affidavit (PCA) detailed how police came to suspect Kohberger. Police discovered a leather knife sheath in one of the victim’s bedrooms at the blood-soaked crime scene that had male DNA left on the button snap, which police would later match with Kohberger using trash collected from his family home in Pennsylvania.
  • One of the surviving roommates, identified in the PCA as “D.M.,” told police she heard crying from one of the victim’s rooms on the night of the murders and saw a masked man with “bushy eyebrows” walk past her while she stood “frozen in shock” and leave the house, leaving her unharmed.
  • The surviving roommate also told police she woke up around the likely time of the murders and thought she heard Goncalves say something like “there’s someone here.” The affidavit did not explain why it took more than seven hours for the two surviving roommates to call the police.
  • After a “video canvass” of security footage from residences and businesses near the site of the killings, police noticed a white sedan repeatedly driving past the murder site in the hours leading up to the killings that shook the quiet college town of Moscow, Idaho.
  • Police and federal forensic investigators were able to narrow down the white sedan to a 2015 Hyundai Elantra belonging to Kohberger. Officers were able to trace his movements with cell records after Kohberger gave his phone number to Moscow police in August after he was pulled over at an intersection that leads straight to the house where the students were killed.
  • The suspect, a Ph.D. student in criminology at nearby Washington State University, allegedly returned to the scene of the crime days after the killings and may have stalked the house a dozen times before the murders, according to cell phone records referenced in the PCA.
  • The suspect appeared in a Moscow, Idaho court for the first time on Thursday. The suspect answered “yes” when asked if he understood his rights and the charges against him but otherwise did not speak. The Idaho jail holding Kohberger said it would try to accommodate his unusual vegan diet “but we are not going to buy new pots and pans or anything like that.”
  • Several family members of the victims were present in the courtroom on Thursday. The parents of Kaylee Goncalves told NewsNation that they would only forgive the suspect once he pays “for what he’s done.” “Justice is when you leave the planet, and the whole world is able to rejoice and be glad that you’re not there,” said Steve Goncalves, Kaylee’s father.

reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Kohberger’s family “stands behind him,” the New York Times reported, and Kohberger continues to insist on his innocence. The suspect said through his attorney he looks forward to being exonerated and had little to say in court besides acknowledging that he understood the maximum penalty for each murder charge: life imprisonment or the death penalty.
  • CNN identified some lingering questions that were not answered by the probable cause affidavit. It is still not clear why the unharmed roommate didn’t call 911, why the two roommates were spared, the motive for the crime, why it took so long for police to arrest the suspect, and the location of the murder weapon.
  • The Washington Post covered one horrifying detail from the PCA that contradicted initial reports: at least one of the victims, Xana Kernodle, was awake during the attack. She received a DoorDash delivery at 4:00 am and phone records revealed she was on TikTok at approximately the time the suspect likely entered their home.



  • The New York Post compiled a timeline of the “13 crucial minutes” during which Kohberger allegedly butchered the four university students. The last precise timestamp came at 4:12 am when cellular records showed Kernodle was on TikTok. Five minutes later, a security camera 50 feet from Kernodle’s window caught “distorted audio” of a “whimper followed by a loud thud.”
  • Fox News highlighted one surprising detail from the PCA: the suspect applied for an internship with the police department in Pullman, Washington, a college town a few miles from the site of the murders. Kohberger sought the internship because he was interested in “assisting rural law enforcement agencies with how to better collect and analyze technological data in public safety operations,” according to the affidavit.
  • The Washington Examiner published a detailed timeline of how police were able to track down the suspected killer by identifying the car he drove. A Washington State University police officer found a 2015 white Elantra registered with the university and his driver’s license photo matched the physical description given by the surviving roommate.


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© Dominic Moore, 2023