(CNN) — Authorities tracked the man accused of the murders of four University of Idaho students to Pennsylvania and kept an eye on him for several days before finally arresting him Friday, sources told CNN.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in his home state of Pennsylvania and charged with four counts of murder as well as felony robbery in connection with the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students in November, according to Bill Thompson, Latah County District Attorney.
Still, investigators have not publicly confirmed the suspect’s motive or whether he knew the victims. The murder weapon has also not been located, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Friday.
In the nearly seven weeks since the students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home, investigators conducted more than 300 interviews and reviewed approximately 20,000 leads in their search for the suspect. News of the murders, and the long stretch of time without a suspect or significant events, have rocked the University of Idaho community and the surrounding city of Moscow, which had not seen a murder in seven years.
Investigators identified Kohberger as the suspect through DNA testing and by confirming that he owned a white Hyundai Elantra seen near the scene of the crime, according to two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.
Kohberger, who authorities say lived just minutes from the scene of the murders, is a doctoral student at Washington State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, the school confirmed.
He drove cross-country in a white Hyundai Elantra and arrived at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania around Christmas time, according to a law enforcement source. Authorities began tracking him at some point during his trip to eastern Idaho.
“At some point, right before Christmas, we were concentrating on him being in or going to Pennsylvania,” the source told CNN.
An FBI surveillance team tracked him for four days before his arrest while law enforcement worked with prosecutors to develop enough probable cause to obtain a warrant, the two law enforcement sources said.
Genetic genealogy techniques were used to connect Kohberger to unidentified DNA evidence, another source with knowledge of the case tells CNN. The DNA was run through a public database to find possible matches for family members, and subsequent investigative work by law enforcement led to him as a suspect, the source said.
Suspect is ‘a bit shaken up’, defense attorney says
Kohberger was arraigned Friday morning in Pennsylvania and is being held without bail, records show.
Kohberger intends to forgo his extradition hearing in order to expedite his transfer to Idaho, Monroe County Public Defense Chief Jason LaBar said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.
“Mr. Kohberger is eager to be cleared of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as soon as possible,” LaBar said.
LaBar later told CNN that Kohberger arrived in Pennsylvania around December 17 to celebrate the holidays with his family.
“Her father actually went out (to Idaho) and they drove home together,” LaBar said.
He noted that Kohberger’s white Hyundai Elantra was found at his parents’ home, where authorities pulled him over early Friday. LaBar said the father of his client, Michael, opened the door for police. Father and son cooperated, he noted.
LaBar said he has recommended that his client be psychologically evaluated prior to court proceedings.
Kohberger is alone in a cell, according to LaBar, and “under 24-hour surveillance by guards to ensure his safety.”
LaBar said the extradition hearing is “formal proceedings.” He said all the Commonwealth needs to prove is that their client resembles or is the person on the warrant and was in the area at the time of the crime.
LaBar said he spoke with Kohberger for about an hour Friday night, discussing where he was at the time of the killings. “Knowing, of course, that they likely have location data from his cell phone that puts him on the Washington and Idaho border,” LaBar told CNN, “obviously, it was an easy decision, since he’s not denying that he’s Bryan Kohberger.
Kohberger is “a little bit shaken up,” LaBar said.
He added: “We really don’t know much about the case. I have no affidavit or probable cause. I did not want to discuss the case with him because I am simply his representative for this procedural matter as to whether or not he wants to be extradited to Idaho.”
the investigation continues
Even with a suspect charged, law enforcement’s job is far from over, prosecutors said.
“This is not the end of this investigation. In fact, this is a new beginning,” Thompson said Friday night.
Thompson urged people to continue to submit tips and asked anyone with information on the suspect to “come forward, call the tip line, report everything you know about him to help investigators.”
Since the murders of the four students: Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 Some members of the community have been frustrated that investigators have yet to offer a full narrative of how the night unfolded. Authorities have released limited details, including the activities of the victims that led to the attacks and the people they have ruled out as suspects.
Fry told reporters Friday that state law limits the information authorities can release before Kohberger makes his first appearance in Idaho court. The probable cause affidavit, which details the factual basis for Kohberger’s charges, is sealed until the suspect is physically in Latah County, Idaho, and has received the Idaho warrant for his arrest, Thompson said.
What we know about the suspect
Kohberger is a resident of Pullman, Washington, a city about nine miles from the site of the killings, authorities said. His apartment and his office on the Washington State University Pullman campus were searched by police early Friday morning, the university confirmed in a statement.
In June 2022, he finished his graduate studies at DeSales University, where he also attended college, according to a statement on the school’s website. She also earned an associate’s degree from Northampton Community College in 2018, the college confirmed to CNN.
LaBar called Kohberger “very smart.”
The attorney said he spoke with Kohberger’s family Friday night for 15 to 20 minutes.
“They are also very shocked,” he said. “Out of character for Bryan… The FBI, the local police, the Idaho state troopers were at his house at about 3 am yesterday knocking on the door and announcing themselves to come in, something of real shock and awe to them.”
In a deleted Reddit post after Kohberger’s arrest was announced, a student researcher named Bryan Kohberger who was associated with a DeSales University study sought to participate in a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence in making decisions when committing a crime”.
“In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind his most recent criminal offence, with an emphasis on his thoughts and feelings throughout his experience,” the post said.
CNN reached out to one of the lead researchers on the study, a DeSales University professor, but they declined to comment on the matter. The university has not responded to requests for comment.
CNN’s John Miller, Pamela Brown, Jay Croft, Mark Morales, Josh Campbell, Jim Sciutto, Elizabeth Joseph, Stephanie Becker, Veronica Miracle and Paul Murphy contributed to this report.