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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A 28-year-old criminal justice graduate student was arrested Friday in eastern Pennsylvania as a suspect in the mysterious stabbing death of four University of Idaho students last month, officials said. .
DNA evidence played a key role in identifying Brian Christopher Coberger as a suspect in the murder, and authorities were able to match his DNA to genetic material recovered during the investigation, law enforcement said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the details of the ongoing investigation publicly.
Students Cary Gonsalves, Madison Morgen, Xana Carnoldle, and Ethan Chapin were stabbed to death in their rented home near the campus in Moscow, Idaho, early in the morning of November 13.
Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Koberger attended Washington State University.
Investigators are still looking for weapons, Frye said at a press conference. He was emotional when he announced the arrest, calling the victim by his first name.
The killings initially confounded law enforcement and shook a small farming community of about 25,000 people who had not had a murder in five years. However, after law enforcement asked citizens for help, information began to pour in.
In addition to the DNA evidence, officials also learned Coberger had a white Hyundai Elantra, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Federal agents have been watching Coberger for the past few days and arrested him early Friday morning at his home in his township in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania.
Federal and state investigators are now combing through his background, financial records, and electronic communications to try to identify a motive and build a case. Officials said they were also interviewing people who knew Coberger.
At a press conference, Rata County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said investigators believed Coberger broke into a student’s home “with the intent of committing murder.” He is being held without bail in Idaho and will be held without bail in Idaho if returned. Idaho’s four first-degree murder affidavits will remain sealed until he is returned, as required by state law.
Coberger is also facing robbery charges in Idaho, Thompson said. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Kohberger has just completed his first semester as a PhD student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. He is also his teaching assistant in the university’s criminal justice and criminology programs, according to his directory online at WSU. University police assisted Idaho law enforcement in executing a search warrant at Coberger’s campus apartment and office, the university said. A WSU official did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Coberger’s work as his teaching assistant.
“This horrific act has shaken everyone in the Palouse area,” WSU President Elizabeth Chilton said in a prepared statement, referring to the scenic rolling hills that surround both universities. “We have long felt the loss of these young people in the Moscow and Pullman communities, and we hope today’s announcement is a step towards healing.”
WSU and UI are partners in several academic programs, and students may attend classes, seminars, or work at nearby schools. That doesn’t seem to apply to Koberger: University of Idaho president Scott Greene wrote in a memo to students and employees Friday night that the Idaho school didn’t have a record for him.
Coberger graduated from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania in 2018 and received an associate’s degree in psychology in 2018, said Mia Rossi Marino, a spokesperson for the university. He will receive his bachelor’s degree in 2020 and graduate school in June 2022 from DeSales University in Pennsylvania.
Goncalves, 21, from Rathdrum, Idaho. Morgen, 21, from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Carnodle, 20, Post, Idaho He is from Falls. His 20-year-old Chapin, from Conway, Washington, was a member of the Greek descent in college and a close friend. Mogen, Goncalves, and Kernodle lived in his three-story rental house with his two other roommates. Carnodle and Chapin were dating and he was visiting the house that night.
An autopsy showed that all four were likely asleep when they were attacked. Several had defensive wounds and each had been stabbed multiple times. Police said there were no signs of sexual assault.
Police said on Thursday they would clean the rental homes of “potential biohazards and other harmful substances” and collect evidence from Friday morning.
Shannon Gray, the attorney for Gonsalves’ father, Steve Gonsalves, said law enforcement officials called the family last night to inform them of the arrest, but they weren’t sure if he could be involved in the murder. did not provide any additional information about or why they believed.
Ben Roberts, a graduate student in the WSU’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Department, described Kohberger as a confident and outgoing person, but “he always seemed to be looking for a way to fit in.” rice field.
“I honestly thought he was very awkward,” Roberts said.
Roberts started the program in August with Koberger and took several courses.
“One of the things he always did was arguably find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said. “He had to make sure you knew he knew it.”
Ethan Chapin’s family emailed a statement after the press conference. “We will miss Ethan and our family has changed forever.”
The case has attracted online detectives speculating about potential suspects and motives. Due to safety concerns, the university has hired an additional security company to escort students across campus, and the Idaho State Police has sent police officers to patrol the city’s streets.
Coberger was arrested in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania. Coberger’s attorney was not listed in court documents, and a call to the county public defender’s office was answered Friday.
Boone reported from Boise, Idaho, and Balsamo from Washington. New York news researcher Rhonda Schaffner, reporters Mark Scorforo and Brooke Schulz of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Michael Kunzelmann of Silver Spring, Maryland, and Martha Belisle of Seattle also contributed.
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