The events that led to an arrest in the Idaho student slayings

The killings of four University of Idaho students in mid-November at an off-campus residence stunned the small community of Moscow, where investigators grappled with what the town’s police chief would later describe as a “very complex” case.

No suspect was immediately named in the deaths of housemates Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20, as well as Kernodle’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20. Nor was a murder weapon, believed to be a large fixed-blade knife, found.

But the intense scrutiny on the unsolved slayings sparked thousands of tips to the FBI.

Then, nearly seven weeks later — with the community on edge and speculation swirling about who could commit such violence — police announced an arrest in Pennsylvania of a doctoral student in criminal justice.

“This is not the end of this investigation,” Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson said at a news conference announcing the arrest in late December. “In fact, this is a new beginning.”

From top left, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle.

From top left, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle.

Here’s a timeline of key moments in the case.

Nov. 12, 2022

Starting at around 9 p.m., Kernodle and Chapin are seen at a party at Chapin’s fraternity, Sigma Chi, a short walk from the King Road apartment house where the roommates lived, according to investigators.

That night, Goncalves uploads pictures to her Instagram account featuring photos of the friends with the caption, “One lucky girl to be surrounded by these pple everyday.”

At about 10 p.m., Goncalves and Mogen go to a sports bar in Moscow, the Corner Club.

Nov. 13, 2022

At about 1:30 a.m., Goncalves and Mogen are seen ordering from a nearby food truck, according to the truck’s livestream.

Investigators say Kernodle and Chapin return to their three-level house on King Road at about 1:45 a.m., while Goncalves and Mogen take a car ride home, arriving at about 1:56 a.m.

Meanwhile, two other housemates who had gone out that night had arrived home before the others, at about 1 a.m., Moscow police say.

At 11:58 a.m., a 911 call is placed on the cellphone of one of the other housemates requesting assistance for an “unconscious person.” (Both housemates were unharmed.)

Police alert the public about the deaths in a news release and while they say no one is in custody, they do “not believe there is an ongoing community risk based on information gathered during the preliminary investigation.”

Nov. 16, 2022

With no suspect apprehended, Moscow police walk back previous comments that there was no threat to the largely rural city of almost 26,000 residents.

“We do not have a suspect at this time, and that individual is still out there,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry says at a news conference. He adds that the more than 25 investigators with the Idaho State Police and the FBI are assisting in the case.

People place flowers at a memorial in front of a campus entrance sign for the University of Idaho (Ted S. Warren / AP file)

People place flowers at a memorial in front of a campus entrance sign for the University of Idaho (Ted S. Warren / AP file)

Nov. 17, 2022

Preliminary autopsy results show that the four victims were likely attacked with a large knife and died sometime after 2 a.m. from multiple stab wounds, Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt says.

She describes their wounds as “pretty extensive.”

Nov. 18, 2022

Police say the victims were most likely asleep when they were slain, and some of them had defensive wounds. There was also no sign of sexual assault.

Meanwhile, detectives seize the contents of three dumpsters near the home to search for possible evidence, and they contact local businesses to determine if a knife had recently been purchased.

Nov. 30, 2022

A vigil is held at the University of Idaho in honor of the victims, with some family members in attendance.

“We’re going to get our justice,” Steven Goncalves, Kaylee’s father, says, adding that his daughter and Mogen had been best friends since the sixth grade and he had learned that they were in the same bed when they were killed.

“They went to high school together, then they started looking at colleges, they came here together. They eventually get into the same apartment together,” he said. “And in the end, they died together.”

Dec. 1, 2022

Moscow police reaffirm the quadruple homicide was part of a “targeted attack,” after authorities appeared to suggest the opposite.

“We remain consistent in our belief that this was indeed a targeted attack but have not concluded if the target was the residence or its occupants,” a police spokesperson says.

The department also continues to dispel online rumors and speculation, and says it has cleared certain people seen interacting with Goncalves and Mogen on the evening they were killed. Police also say the two housemates who were home during the attack had been sleeping that night.

Dec. 2, 2022

The two housemates, Bethany Funke and Dylan Mortensen, release letters saying they are struggling to accept why the lives of “four beautiful people” were taken so brutally.

Dec. 5, 2022

Detectives focus on Chapin’s and Kernodle’s activities on the evening they were killed, and ask the public for information about the nearly five hours from when the couple arrived at the Sigma Chi party to the apartment house on King Road.

Dec. 6, 2022

Police say they recognize how frustrating the lack of news can be for the families and the public, but insist they do not want to jeopardize the case.

“We are at that point in the investigation where we’re still gathering information, we’re still gathering tips, we’re still gathering evidence, we’re still doing everything we need to do,” Fry says in a video posted online.

Police tap surrounds the house where police found four University of Idaho students stabbed to death (Angela Palermo / Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Police tap surrounds the house where police found four University of Idaho students stabbed to death (Angela Palermo / Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Dec. 7, 2022

Police begin removing personal items of the victims from the apartment house and returning them to their families.

They also announce what appears to be an integral part of the investigation: They say they are looking to speak with any occupants of a white Hyundai Elantra from 2011-13 with unknown license plates. They do not say whether they believe the driver is linked to the killer but say that person may have “critical information” to share.

Dec. 15, 2022

Kristi Goncalves, Kaylee’s mother, expresses frustration during an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show that she only learned about the police interest in the Hyundai Elentra when the rest of the public did — underscoring how some victims’ families feel “left in the dark.”

Dec. 21, 2022

Fry tells NBC News that his department is in daily contact with families and “we asked them to be patient” as the investigation progresses. The police chief again insists the investigation is not a cold case, and “our end goal is to bring somebody to justice for those families and for those victims.”

Dec. 30, 2022

Police announce an arrest of a suspect: Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, a resident of Pullman, Washington, then a doctoral student at Washington State University. He is apprehended in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 2,500 miles from the Idaho campus, and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary.

According to two law enforcement sources, DNA evidence played a key role in linking the killings to Kohberger.

At a news conference, Fry says he believes Kohberger is the only suspect.

“What I can tell you is that we have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes,” he says, “and I do believe our community is safe.”

Dec. 31, 2022

The public defender of Monroe County, Pennsylvania, where Kohberger is being held, says the suspect intends to waive his extradition hearing to face charges in Idaho.

“He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise — not tried in the court of public opinion,” Jason LaBar says in a statement, adding, “Mr. Kohberger is eager to be exonerated of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as promptly as possible.”

Image: Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students, is escorted to an extradition hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg, Pa., on Jan. 3, 2023.  (Matt Rourke / Pool via AP)

Image: Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students, is escorted to an extradition hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg, Pa., on Jan. 3, 2023. (Matt Rourke / Pool via AP)

Jan. 3

Kohberger appears in court and agrees to return to Idaho.

Jan. 4

Kohberger is flown across country in a Pennsylvania State Police plane and booked into the Latah County, Idaho, jail.

Jan. 5

Kohberger makes his first appearance in an Idaho court and is ordered held without bail. Another pretrial hearing is set for Jan. 12.

Investigators say male DNA discovered on a knife sheath was used to link Kohberger to the crime scene and that they had been tracking his car, a white Hyundai Elantra, and cellphone use in the area, according to newly released court documents.

Jan. 18

A list of items seized from a search warrant for Kohberger’s Pullman, Washington, apartment is made public. The belongings include a pillow with a “reddish/brown stain,” a disposable glove and at least a dozen strands of hair.

Feb. 28

A search warrant for the home of Kohberger’s parents in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, reveals more items seized, including four medical-style gloves, a silver flashlight and a buccal swab DNA test.

March 13

Prosecutors seek data from major tech firms, such as Apple and Amazon, as well as social media platforms and retailers as part of their investigation, according to court documents made public. They also request bank and social media information tied to the four victims in order to build a digital picture of the crime and the suspect.

April 21

Funke, one of the surviving housemates, files a motion to quash a subpoena that would require her to testify at Kohberger’s preliminary hearing in June. While an investigator for his defense said in an affidavit that she knows information that would be “exculpatory to the defendant,” Funke in her motion said the statement is “without support and there is no further information or detail pertaining to the substance of this testimony, its materiality or the alleged exculpatory information.”

April 26

Funke agrees to interview with the defense counsel, according to a court filing, but she won’t have to travel to Idaho.

May 4

Newly released police bodycam video shows Kohberger being pulled over for allegedly running a red light in Pullman, Washington, in October 2022, about a month before the slayings in Moscow. Washington State University campus police let him go with a warning.

May 16

A Latah County grand jury returns an indictment against Kohberger on the murder charges, paving the way for an arraignment and trial.

May 22

Kohberger during his arraignment stands silent when asked to enter a plea, prompting Latah County District Judge John Judge to enter not guilty pleas on his behalf on the murder and burglary charges. A trial is tentatively set for Oct. 2.

In addition, prosecutors have 60 days to give notice if they’ll seek the death penalty.

June 16

DNA on the knife sheath found at the off-campus home directly links Kohberger to the crime scene, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

June 22

Kohberger’s attorney says in a court filing that there is “no connection” between him and the slain students and that other men’s DNA was also found at the scene.

His attorney also claims that police investigated “various possible suspects,” many of whom provided DNA — including at least one who allegedly “had his DNA surreptitiously taken from a discarded cigarette” and others who “had their phones taken and downloaded,” the filing says.

June 26

Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against Kohberger if he is convicted, writing in a court filing that “aggravating circumstances” in the “especially heinous” killings led to the decision.

Idaho has not carried out an execution since 2012.

July 4

Some families of the victims speak out against the University of Idaho’s plan to demolish the King Road residence before the start of the fall semester on Aug. 21.

“The home itself has enormous evidentiary value as well as being the largest, and one of the most important, pieces of evidence in the case,” an attorney for the Goncalves family tells the Idaho Statesman. But the school responds that neither the prosecution nor the defense is objecting to the demolition.

July 12

Reversing course, the University of Idaho says it will halt tearing down the King Road.

“We know that every action and decision around this horrific incident is painful and invokes emotions,” university President Scott Green says in a statement. “That is why every decision we have made this far is with the families of the victims and our students in mind.”

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