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A year after University of Idaho murders, where does the case stand?

Four University of Idaho students were killed on Nov. 12, 2022, and a year later, this is what we know about the case.
A year after University of Idaho murders, where does the case stand?
Posted at 8:34 PM, Nov 13, 2023

It's been one year since four University of Idaho students were murdered in their off-campus home, shocking the small town of Moscow and perplexing the nation as a whole.

Weeks went by without a suspect, drawing hoards of conspiracy theories from self-titled sleuths on social media. Even now as a suspect awaits trial in jail, questions still surround the case for those who continue to be horrified by what happened that November day.

Of what we do know, here's where the case stands one year later.

What happened going into Nov. 13, 2022

Roommates Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin had all gone out in their college town the night of Nov. 12, 2022, with Goncalves and Mogen going to a campus party and Kernodle and Chapin going to a downtown bar. 

The group of friends all returned to their three-floor, six-bedroom apartment, which they shared with two other roommates, shortly before 2 a.m.

Court documents say evidence and a surviving roommate lead them to believe the murders occurred between 4 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. 

Kernodle was using her phone around 4 a.m. and received a DoorDash delivery.

One of the surviving roommates, noted as D.M. in the affidavit, was awoken at about that time at what sounded like Goncalves playing with her dog in her third-floor bedroom. She said she also heard crying, someone saying something like "there's someone here," and a male voice saying something to the effect of "it's OK, I'm going to help you."

D.M. opened her door to see a man with bushy eyebrows, dressed in black with a mask covering his nose and mouth walking toward her. The man instead walked past her toward the back sliding glass door while she locked herself in her room.

The next morning, one of the two uninjured roommates called 911 shortly before noon to report one of the victims appeared unconscious at the apartment.

Officers arrived to find Goncalves, Mogen, Kernodle and Chapin fatally stabbed, each with multiple stab wounds. They found no signs of forced entry and discovered a tan leather knife sheath on Mogen's bed, along with a shoe print outside one roommate's door.

They later said an "edged weapon such as a knife" was the weapon used in the murders.

SEE MORE: Attorneys suggest possible alibi defense for Bryan Kohberger

Bryan Kohberger believed to have committed the murders

Police said a white sedan's unusual driving pattern, including one recording showing the car speeding off after the killings in the quiet off-campus neighborhood, pushed police to search for its owner.

Investigators searched through tens of thousands of vehicle registrations that fit the description until tips and leads narrowed the search to a white Hyundai Elantra.

Surveillance footage indicated the car was traveling toward Moscow shortly before 3 a.m., and at about 4:20 a.m. it was seen leaving the area toward Pullman, Washington. Other footage shows the car making multiple passes by the students' residence between 3 and 5 a.m. 

Police later matched the owner of the vehicle to Bryan Kohberger, whose appearance was also consistent with D.M.'s description and who lived in Pullman at the time. 

Phone records show Kohberger's phone was turned off from 2:47 a.m. to 4:48 a.m. the morning of the murders, which appears consistent with him trying to conceal his whereabouts, police said. It was later seen pinging near the apartment hours after he allegedly killed the four students.

Further, DNA that was recovered from the knife sheath found on Mogen's bed matched that of Kohberger

Police arrested 28-year-old Kohberger on Dec. 30 and charged him with four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary. 

At the time, he was pursuing a graduate degree in criminal justice at Washington State University, but he had been visiting family in Pennsylvania when he was arrested. He later agreed to be extradited to Idaho where he remains jailed with no bail possibility.

In May, a grand jury indicted Kohberger on the charges. An Idaho judge entered a not guilty plea to the charges on his behalf days later.

In October, a judge denied a motion to dismiss the indictment against Kohberger on the grounds of an error in grand jury instructions. The decision on another request to dismiss the indictment has yet to be released to the public.

Conspiracies police have debunked

Public commentary and questions have pushed police to clarify and further dive into some details in the case. In doing so, they have laid to rest some conspiracies, while keeping other specific details private in order to not compromise the investigation.

Early on in the investigation, police named a few people who were not suspected to have been involved in the murders. Those included the two surviving roommates, people who interacted with Goncalves and Mogen shortly before they arrived home, friends who were at the home when 911 was called and others.

Many of these people haven't been allowed to speak on the case due to a wide-ranging gag order prohibiting many close to it from speaking publicly. A judge in June denied two motions to remove the order, on the basis that the high-profile case still should afford Kohberger the right to a fair trial without jeopardy.

Authorities have also said they looked extensively into tips that Goncalves had a stalker, but they said upon looking into an instance in which two men had followed her around a bar, they believed it was an isolated incident unrelated to the murders.

Prosecutors haven't publicly verified how exactly Kohberger knew the victims despite multiple social media claims. Authorities also haven't named a motive.

SEE MORE: University of Idaho continues to recover months after murders

What's ahead in the case

Kohberger could face the death penalty if found guilty — and prosecutors have said they're seeking it — though no trial date has been set. It was delayed from its initial Oct. 2 start date after Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial.

Kohberger's attorneys say when they do go to court, they will use an alibi defense, though they said they haven't been able to pin his exact location that Nov. 13 morning due to his habit of driving in the late night and early morning, which he did that night, a court filing from his attorneys says.

The defense has repeatedly pushed for more information on how police zeroed in on Kohberger, arguing whether the DNA on the knife sheath really is a "statistical match" of Kohberger, as authorities have argued. 

The knife used to stab the students has also still not been discovered.

Prosecutors have obtained search warrants related to the Amazon, PayPal and Apple accounts of a redacted customer. Specifically they're looking for "click activity pertaining to knives."

As for the house, initial plans to tear it down have been paused until at least the end of this semester in mid-December. 

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