One year ago, four students at the University of Idaho were massacred in their off-campus home at the end of a fun-filled college night out.
Cops failed to produce a suspect for six weeks as morbid online curiosity into the murders grew, until investigators finally made an arrest on December 30: a 28-year-old criminology PhD student from neighboring Washington State University named Bryan Kohberger.
Social media flew into a frenzy as internet sleuths pored over the lanky teaching assistant’s history, revealing everything from his middle-school bullying at the hands of popular classmates to his humiliating Tinder dates.
Kohberger has contested his innocence ever since from behind bars, waiving his right to a speedy trial earlier this year to prepare for a high-profile court date that is yet to be rescheduled.
The drawn-out investigation and court hearings ahead of the trial have left many with more questions than answers over the brutal stabbings of Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20.
On November 13, 2022, University of Idaho students (L-R) Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Ethan Chapin, 20, were brutally murdered
Bryan Kohberger (pictured during his extradition in January 2023), a 28-year-old criminology PhD student, has remained behind bars for eleven months as he pleads his innocence
Chapin and Kernodle (pictured together) had been in a relationship for around a year before the murders, with his brother saying that she ‘gave him purpose’
Best friends Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogel were found stabbed to death together, where a knife sheath investigators believe is a crucial piece of evidence was also discovered
Kohberger is alleged to have meticulously planned the killings, with a white Hyundai Elantra – matching one owned by Kohberger – captured in various surveillance footage circling around the victims’ King Road home before the killings.
The four victims and their friends had been enjoying a typical night out at local college bars, and Mogen and Goncalves were last seen buying carbonara pasta from a takeout truck shortly before they returned home at around 2am.
Chapin and Kernodle had spent the evening at his Sigma Chi fraternity house, and arrived home at around the same time.
Just over an hour later, the white Hyundai was again spotted lurking in the area, at the same time Kernodle appears to have still been awake as she had just received a DoorDash order.
Investigators also determined that she had been playing TikTok at around the same moment the white Hyundai was seen performing a three-point turn in the street outside, at 4.04am.
Kohberger’s phone had been turned off in Pullman at 2.47am, where he lived around 10 miles from the murder house in Moscow, and turned back on again at 4.48am south of Moscow, on the route back to Pullman.
The victim’s surviving roommate, Dylan Mortensen, later told police she was also awake at the time, and even heard what was likely the sounds of the murders taking place in the room upstairs.
Mortensen told investigators she believed the sounds were Goncalves playing with her dog, and even called out to her friends to quiet down thinking they were merely partying.
‘Calm down, you’re being loud!’ she reportedly yelled around 4am, in addition to: ‘I’m trying to sleep!’
After she heard the questionable sounds slamming around the house in the dead of night, Mortensen said a male voice upstairs said something to the effect of: ‘It’s okay, I’m going to help you.’
Surveillance cameras later picked up what was deemed to be someone sobbing, a loud thud, and a dog barking, at 4.17am.
Dylan Mortensen (left) and Bethany Funke (middle) survived the brutal attack in the off-campus house which saw their fellow University of Idaho students Xana Kernodle (second from left) Kaylee Goncalves (second from right) and Madison Mogen (right) killed
Dylan Mortensen (pictured) who survived the slayings, didn’t call the police at the time of the murders. Instead, she claimed she believed the noises from upstairs were party-goers and her roommate playing with a dog
The manner in which the killer navigated the three-story home to kill the four students – who were sleeping in separate rooms and floors – in the early hours of a November morning has raised questions about his motives and potential knowledge of the layout
Chapin and Kernodle were dating and lived in the apartment with the other two students who were killed
Goncalves, of Rathdrum, Idaho, left, and Mogen, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, right, were in separate sororities but we’re said to have grown close at their time at college
In a move that has led to numerous questions in the year since the murders, Mortensen says she opened her bedroom door to investigate the sounds and was stunned to come face-to-face with an intruder, dressed in all black and wearing a mask.
She claims the killer walked right past her and exited out a sliding glass door at the back of the house, leaving her frozen in fear.
Nobody called 911 for over seven hours.
At 4.20am, the white Hyundai Elantra was seen again in surveillance footage driving through the neighborhood, with the car later becoming a key piece of evidence that prosecutors say places Kohberger in the area at the time.
In his own defense, Kohberger has presented an alibi that he was driving alone all evening, and his lawyer says he has a ‘long habit of going for drives alone.’
When investigators arrived on the scene the next day, they discovered the four victims laying in two bedrooms: boyfriend and girlfriend Kernodle and Chapin in one, and lifelong best friends Mogen and Goncalves in the other.
The scenes were so gruesome that exclusive DailyMail.com images showed blood seeping down the outsides of the home.
That morning, in a haunting move, prosecutors claim Kohberger’s phone was also located in the area near the crime scene, around the time cops discovered the slayings.
His phone had been tracked in the neighborhood 12 times in the few months before the murders, according to an arrest affidavit.
Detectives found a Ka-Bar knife sheath on the bed with the bodies of Mogen and Goncalves. DNA on the sheath was later statistically matched to Kohberger through genealogy testing
While inside the house, cops also quickly stumbled upon another item they say could be key to solving the slayings, a knife sheath emblazoned with a US Marine Corps logo laying on the bed next to Mogen.
The murder weapon has never been found.
However, the investigation hit a snag when the sheath did not immediately match any DNA in law enforcement databases, and it was left to be sent for further analysis. At the same time, news of the quadruple murder spread like wildfire online.
Weeks went by, and one of the only early breakthroughs in the investigation was the identification of a white Elantra at nearby Washington State University registered to Kohberger, adding his name to the suspect list.
Some have raised doubts over the knife sheath as a ‘smoking gun’ in the case, however, including Kohberger’s defense team who argued in August against the validity of the DNA found on the sheath.
It was alleged that DNA from three other men was also found at the crime scene.
Investigators have alleged that Kohberger traveled the roughly 10 miles from his Pullman, Washington, apartment to the home in Moscow, Idaho, and subsequently fled the scene after the brutal slayings
Blood drips down the outside of the wall of the house the four students shared, which investigators described as the worst crime scene they have ever seen
Investigators were seen in January removing a bloodied mattress from the home where four University of Idaho were murdered in November
Goncalves (left) and Mogen (right) were last seen getting food from a takeout truck shortly before 2am on the night of the killings
Xana Kernodle and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin in a parody of characters from film Ratatouille
The route allegedly driven by Bryan Kohberger on the night of the brutal Idaho murders may be a crucial piece of evidence in the state’s case against the 28-year-old suspect
However, reports indicate that the FBI did not begin focusing on the PhD student until mid-December, around the time that extensive knife sheath analysis allowed officials to create a profile with genetic genealogy.
As pressure was mounting for police to arrest a suspect, and social media was awash with speculation over the murders, Kohberger was continuing his day job as a teaching assistant.
His students recalled to the New York Times that, two weeks before the massacre, Kohberger had become noticeably engaged and excited over a class discussion into forensics, particularly how it is used by detectives to win convictions.
Others reported that he became disjointed and aloof in the weeks after the killings, leading to a bust-up with another professor that saw him fired on December 19, just 10 days before his eventual arrest.
By the end of December, Kohberger was firmly in the sights of law enforcement, who were watching him day and night but were attempting to match the DNA from the crime scene.
Kohberger embarked on a cross-country drive with his father from Idaho back to his parents’ home in Pennsylvania. The two were pulled over purposefully by cops twice during the journey, leading to a wide-eyed Kohberger to stare down an officer with a panicked look as his father talked to the officers.
He was driving with a new Washington State license plate which he had bought five days after the murders, and officers admitted he was pulled over on purpose to get a closer look at his hands for any potential injuries sustained in the killings.
Investigators tracked a white Hyundai Elantra on the night of the killings that they believe to have been driven by Kohberger
Kohberger was under heavy surveillance by late December 2022, as he and his father were pulled over on a cross-country drive from Idaho to Pennsylvania. Investigators purposefully pulled him over to get a closer look at his hands for potential injuries sustained in the murders
Testing of the DNA left on the knife sheath escalated as Kohberger returned to his parents’ home, as DNA was collected from trash at the family home that was found to be a statistical match to the 28-year-old.
The breakthrough allowed arrest warrants to be drawn up and, on the morning of December 30, tactical teams descended on the family home in the early hours and arrested Kohberger in a dramatic pre-dawn raid.
Kohberger was later extradited back to Idaho, where he was placed on suicide watch as he became one of America’s most notorious alleged criminals overnight.
His legal team have insisted on several occasions that he is ‘looking forward to clearing his name’, and in August the suspect waived his right to a speedy trial to give him more time to prepare for the likely-blockbuster trial.
While he prepares, social media interest in the case has periodically peaked, particularly whenever ominous details into his past are unearthed.
For many, his criminology background led to speculation that Kohberger thought of himself as a criminal mastermind intent on pulling off the perfect crime.
During his undergraduate degree at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, he studied under renowned serial-killer expert psychologist Katherine Ramsland – author of books including ‘How to Catch a Killer’ and ‘The Mind of a Murderer.’
Former friends and associates have described him as a shy loner, who battled heroin addiction and who was banned from a bar near his parents’ home due to alleged creepy behavior towards women.
Kohberger’s criminology background and disturbing allegations about his past have fueled online speculation over the quadruple murder suspect
Disturbing allegations that Kohberger had saved images of one of his victims and attempted to contact her emerged amid the investigation. Kaylee Goncalves (right) had complained about a mysterious stalker in the weeks before the killing, but it is not known if this is related
The family of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, have called for her killer to face the death penalty
Police sources have also said that following his move to pursue a PHD in criminology in the fall of 2022, he applied to work for the Washington State University police department – but was turned down.
It also emerged that in the fall of 2022, months before the murders, Kohberger had sent a petition around to Reddit users asking ex-convicts to take a survey about the moment they committed a crime.
Specifically, he was looking for respondents to detail their ‘thoughts, emotions, and actions from the beginning to end of the crime commission process.’
Questions included: ‘Did you prepare for the crime before leaving your home?’, ‘Why did you choose that victim or target over others?’ and ‘What was the first move you made to accomplish your goal?’
Investigations have also often centered on why the four Idaho student victims were targeted in the murders, with officials seemingly stumped over that question a year on.
In January, a law enforcement source revealed to PEOPLE that Kohberger had allegedly messaged one of his female victims in the weeks before the murders, sending repeat prompts that went ignored.
‘He slid into one of the girls’ DMs several times but she didn’t respond,’ the police source said. ‘Basically, it was just him saying, “Hey, how are you?” But he did it again and again.’
Goncalves had also reportedly complained about a mysterious stalker in the run-up to the killings, however it is unclear if Kohberger has any links to these claims.
Madi Mogen (left) was described as a ‘beautiful girl who was always a delight.’ She is pictured wearing her favorite pink cowboy boots that were later pictured at the crime scene
Propped against the window in the bedroom where she died, Mogen’s favorite pink cowboy boots are pictured in November 2022 – a poignant reminder of an owner who will never wear them again
Those who knew Chapin said he was enamored with Kernodle and often ‘looked forward to getting off work as a waiter to see her’
The SWAT team raid of his parents’ home also led to the discovery of multiple images of one of the victims on his phone, a source told PEOPLE in April.
With no motive found by investigators, the source alleged that it ‘was clear that he was paying attention’ to the victim in his phone.
Although Goncalves is said to have complained of the alleged stalker, her loved ones have described her as a fun-loving, gregarious student who was excited for the future.
She was set to graduate early that December and had planned a move to Austin, Texas with her friend Jordyn Quesnell, who told the New York Times that the duo were excited to start their next chapter.
‘We wanted that adventure,’ she said. ‘I would be like, ‘Let’s go do this,’ and she’d be like ‘Down!”
Goncalves’ family have also alleged that she was ‘trapped’ by the body of her best friend Madison Mogel on the night of the killings, which may have stopped her being able to escape.
Speaking to CBS News’ Peter Van Sant, he said: ‘There’s evidence to show that she awakened and tried to get out of that situation, [but] she was assaulted and stabbed.
‘The bed was up against the wall. The headboard was touching the wall and the left side of the bed was touching the wall.
‘And we believe that Maddie was on the outside and Kaylee was on the inside. The way the bed was set up…[Kaylee] was trapped.’
Kaylee’s mother, Kristi, also speculated over how the killings took place, saying that she thinks the killer’s plan ‘went awry’, and that he ‘intended to kill one and killed four’.
Mogen and Goncalves were found in one bedroom together, after couple Chapin and Kernodle the first to be discovered in bed together by his best friend.
After Mortensen delayed in calling 911, Chapin’s unidentified best friend visited the off-campus home to find the four slain in their beds, reportedly taking their pulse before the call went out seven hours after the murders.
Chapin and Kernodle had been seeing each other for around a year at the time, and his heartbroken brother recalled after that Xana ‘gave Ethan purpose.’
‘They had inside jokes that no one understood that made them crack up. He looked forward to getting off work as a waiter to see her,’ he wrote on social media.
‘If the 2 weeks we got to meet her represent her and her life she lived, the world is missing 2 very amazing people. Two kids in their 20s that are stripped of being great parents if they wanted that, and amazing role models for the next generation.’
Kohberger has maintained his innocence in the case, and his legal team has repeatedly insisted that he ‘looks forward to clearing his name’
Investigators are now readying their case before it goes to trial, with FBI agents pictured last week returning to the Moscow home after an order for its demolition was delayed.
Officers descended on the house in Moscow to take precise measurements of each room for 3D modeling that can be presented to the jury when the grisly case eventually goes to trial.
The university, which now owns the building, planned to demolish it after the hearing got underway but that has been delayed by Kohberger’s decision to waive his right to a speedy trial, allowing the FBI to build more of a case.
The move could also see jurors spared a visit to the house where the students were slain.
Ahead of his trial, Kohberger faced a recent loss in court as his ongoing battle to ban cameras from the courtroom was rejected by a judge.
However, in a possible sign of things to come if the trial becomes the media circus it is anticipated to be, Latah County District Court Judge John Judge urged the media to ‘have some dignity and restraint.’