The man accused of murdering four University of Idaho students in November had thoroughly cleaned the interior and exterior of his car and was also seen wearing surgical gloves multiple times before being apprehended, a law enforcement source tells CNN.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, is currently the sole suspect in the gruesome stabbings of students Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, who were found dead inside their off-campus house in Moscow, Idaho, on November 13.
Kohberger, who was pursuing a PhD in criminal justice at Washington State University at the time of the killings, “cleaned his car, inside and outside, not missing an inch,” according to the law enforcement source.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was briefed on observations made by investigators during four days of surveillance leading up to Kohberger’s arrest at his family’s Pennsylvania home on December 30.
As Kohberger now remains behind bars in Idaho awaiting his January 12 status hearing, new details have emerged elucidating some of the suspect’s movements in the days leading up to his arrest.
A surveillance team assigned to Kohberger was tasked with two missions, according to multiple law enforcement sources: keep eyes on Kohberger so they could arrest him as soon as a warrant was issued, and try to obtain an object that would yield a DNA sample from Kohberger, which could then be compared to DNA evidence found at the crime scene.
Kohberger was seen multiple times outside the Pennsylvania home wearing surgical gloves, according to the law enforcement source.
In one instance prior to Kohberger’s arrest, authorities observed him leaving his family home around 4 a.m. and putting trash bags in the neighbors’ garbage bins, according to the source. At that point, agents recovered garbage from the Kohberger family’s trash bins and what was observed being placed into the neighbors’ bins, the source said.
The recovered items were sent to the Idaho State Lab, per the source.
Last Friday, a Pennsylvania State Police SWAT team then moved in on the Kohberger family home, breaking down the door and windows in what is known as a “dynamic entry” – a tactic used in rare cases to arrest “high risk” suspects, the source added.
On Thursday, Kohberger had his initial court appearance in Idaho after he was booked into the Latah County jail Wednesday night following his extradition from Pennsylvania.
Kohberger is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. He did not enter a plea at the hearing.
Authorities spent nearly two months investigating before they were able to name publicly a suspect, a task that grabbed national attention and rattled the victims’ loved ones as well as the community – which had not recorded a murder in years.
Still, the public’s view of the case remains mired with questions. As of late Thursday, it remains unclear what motivated the killings. It’s also unclear how the suspect entered the house after authorities said there was no sign of forced entry or why two roommates who were inside the residence at the time of the killings survived the attacks.
Here’s how investigators narrowed the search to Kohberger:
- DNA: Trash recovered from Kohberger’s family home revealed that the “DNA profile obtained from the trash” matched a tan leather knife sheath found “laying on the bed” of one of the victims, according to a probable cause affidavit released Thursday. The DNA recovered from the trash “identified a male as not being excluded as the biological father” of the suspect whose DNA was found on the sheath. “At least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father,” the affidavit said.
- Phone records: Authorities found the suspect’s phone was near the victims’ Moscow, Idaho, home at least a dozen times between June 2022 to the present day, according to the affidavit. The records also reveal Kohberger’s phone was near the crime scene hours after the murders that morning between 9:12 a.m. and 9:21 a.m, the document says. The killings were not reported to authorities until just before noon.
- A white sedan: A Hyundai Elantra was seen near the victims’ home around the time of their killings. Officers at Washington State University identified a white Elantra and later learned it was registered to Kohberger. The same car was also found at the suspect’s Pennsylvania family home when he was arrested last Friday. The suspect’s university is about a 10-minute drive from the Idaho crime scene.
One of two roommates who were not harmed in the attacks said she saw a masked man dressed in black inside the house on the morning of the killings, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Identified as D.M. in the court document, the roommate said she “heard crying” in the house that morning and also heard a man’s voice say, ‘It’s OK, I’m going to help you.’” D.M. said she then saw a “figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her,” the affidavit continued.
“D.M. described the figure as 5’ 10” or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows,” the affidavit says. “The male walked past D.M. as she stood in a ‘frozen shock phase.’
“The male walked towards the back sliding glass door. D.M. locked herself in her room after seeing the male,” the document says, adding the roommate did not recognize the male.