Boise, Idaho –
The suspect in the November slayings of four University of Idaho students has arrived in Idaho, where he is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary.
Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old doctoral student at Washington State University, was flown by Pennsylvania State Police to a small regional airport near the Idaho border and handed over to local authorities Wednesday evening.
Uniformed law enforcement officers were waiting on the tarmac for the Pennsylvania State Police plane to land, and then they escorted the handcuffed Kohberger to a caravan of five vehicles for the short drive from Washington across the Idaho border.
Kohberger’s arrival means the court documents filed in his case should soon be unsealed, potentially shedding some light on Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson’s reasons for accusing Kohburger.
Kohberger was arrested at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania last week in connection with the stabbing deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.
On Tuesday Kohberger agreed to be extradited to Idaho, and his attorney Jason LaBar said Kohberger was eager to be exonerated.
Police have released few details about the investigation and a magistrate judge has issued a sweeping gag order barring attorneys, law enforcement agencies and other officials from discussing the criminal case. But court filings — including a document laying out Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson’s reasons for accusing Kohberger of the killings — are expected to be unsealed now that Kohberger has arrived.
The nighttime attack at a Moscow home near the University of Idaho campus spread fear through the surrounding community, as authorities seemed stumped by the brutal stabbings. Investigators appeared to make a breakthrough, however, after searching for a white sedan that was seen around the time of the killings and analyzing DNA evidence collected from the crime scene.
Investigators have said they were still searching for a motive and the weapon used in the attack.
The bodies of Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington, were found Nov. 13 at the rental house where the women lived. Kernodle and Chapin were dating, and he had been visiting the house that night.
Latah County, Idaho, prosecutors have said they believe Kohberger broke into the victims’ home intending to commit murder.
Jason LaBar, the chief public defender in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, said Kohberger is eager to be exonerated and should be presumed innocent and “not tried in the court of public opinion.”
After Tuesday’s hearing, LaBar described Kohberger as “an ordinary guy,” and said that after his extradition he would be represented by the chief public defender in Kootenai County, Idaho.
Although Moscow police have been tightlipped about the investigation, investigators last month asked the public for help finding a white sedan that was seen near the scene of the crime — specifically, a 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra. Tips poured in and investigators soon announced they were sifting through a pool of around 20,000 potential vehicles.
Meanwhile, Kohberger apparently stayed in Pullman, Washington, through the end of the semester at WSU. Then he drove across country to his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, accompanied by his father. They were in a white Elantra.
While driving through Indiana, Kohberger was pulled over twice on the same day — first by a Hancock County Sheriff’s deputy and a few minutes later by an Indiana state trooper.
Body camera video of the first stop released by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office shows Kohberger behind the wheel and his father in the passenger seat on Dec. 15. Both men told the law enforcement officer that they were traveling from WSU before the officer sent them on their way with a warning for following too closely.
The Indiana State Police released bodycam footage of the second stop. The agency said that at the time, there was no information available to the trooper that would have identified Kohberger as a suspect in the killings. Kohberger was again given a warning for following too closely.
Associated Press writers Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Manuel Valdes in Seattle contributed to this story.
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