A person of interest in the November stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students has been arrested, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said at a press conference Friday.
The man, identified as 28-year-old Bryan Christopher Kohberger, was taken into custody Friday in Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania, where he’s being held without bond for extradition to Idaho on four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary.
Fry also confirmed that Kohberger is a graduate student at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, just across the Idaho state line from Moscow. The school website indicates Kohberger is pursuing a doctorate related to criminal justice and criminology.
Ben Roberts, a fellow graduate student at WSU, said the arrest caught him by surprise.
“It’s pretty out of left field,” he told the Associated Press, describing Kohberger as confident and outgoing. “I had honestly just pegged him as being super awkward.”
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson cautioned Friday that other details in the case may be slow to be released. Idaho law strictly limits pretrial publicity, he said, such that the probable cause affidavit cannot be released until Kohberger has had a hearing in an Idaho court.
Law enforcement officials told NBC New York a white Hyundai Elantra was found outside the man’s Pennsylvania home. Moscow police had previously asked for help finding a similar vehicle that was seen in the area at the time of the slayings.
Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21, lived at the house where the bodies were discovered. A visitor, Ethan Chapin, 20, who was dating Kernodle, also was slain.
Cara Northington, Kernodle’s mother, told NBC she didn’t know the suspect and that she was grateful to have someone in custody.
“A lot of the grief was not knowing who this was, knowing that whoever was responsible for that is still out there,” she said. “So yeah, this definitely takes a lot of the grief that we were experiencing off our shoulders.”
“I’m thankful to everybody for finding this creep,” she added.
Police initially described the killings, which left the small college town on edge, as an isolated and “targeted” incident with no broader threat to the general public.
The department later clarified that it was unsure if the occupants of the house were specifically targeted or if the target was the residence itself.