Bryan Kohberger, who is charged with the murder of four University of Idaho students, initially waived his right to legal counsel and agreed to speak to law enforcement after his arrest – but then he demanded an attorney, according to the public defender representing him represented in Pennsylvania.
Kohberger, 28, was taken into custody just before 2 a.m. last Friday morning at his parents’ home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania. He faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary for the deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, Maddie Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin at a home near campus last November. Kohberger is being held at the Monroe County Correctional Facility pending an extradition hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
“He is calm. He is fully aware of this. It’s obvious that he’s very intelligent… He already has a Masters. It shouldn’t shock anyone that he’s intelligent,” said Jason LaBar, lead Monroe County public defender, who will represent Kohberger at what is expected to be a short extradition hearing Tuesday. Kohberger had just completed his first semester as a graduate student in criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University in Pullman when he was taken into custody.
LaBar told Law&Crime’s Angenette Levy that Kohberger spent five to 15 minutes speaking with law enforcement at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks after his arrest early Friday morning.
Initially, Kohberger waived his Miranda rights, but then requested a lawyer. LaBar said Kohberger told him that the police asked his client if he understood what was going on, and he responded by saying something that said, “Yes, I certainly know what’s going on.” . I’m 10 miles from that.” Then, LaBar said, Kohberger invoked his right to legal counsel and asked for an attorney.
Moscow police said they seized a white 2015 Hyundai Elantra. LaBar confirmed that Kohberger drove this vehicle. Police last month first asked for information about a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra and said they had registrations for 22,000 vehicles fitting that description. Police executed search warrants at Kohberger’s Pullman home, seized several items, and also searched his parents’ Pennsylvania home.
Kohberger arrived in Pennsylvania in mid-December, LaBar said. His father flew to Washington to take his son back on a trip that LaBar said was planned before the start of the school year. LaBar said the father and son left Pullman sometime between December 13 and December 16 to weather the approaching snowstorm. “Bryan doesn’t deny that he was in Pullman until mid-December,” LaBar said. He also said he assumes law enforcement would have his GPS data available through his cellphone.
Kohberger’s family released a statement about LaBar over the weekend.
“First and foremost, we care deeply for the four families who have lost their precious children. There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel and we pray for her every day,” the statement said. “We will pursue legal action and as a family we will love and support our son and brother. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement to seek the truth and further his presumption of innocence, rather than assessing unknown facts and making false assumptions.”
Little is known about Kohberger, but former classmates have reached out to share their memories of him. They asked for anonymity after law enforcement asked not to speak publicly about Kohberger.
A man attending DeSales University in Pennsylvania during his undergraduate studies with Kohberger recalled a tall, awkward student who often spoke superiorly about professors.
“Words cannot really describe my shock. It’s pretty surreal,” the man said. He added that he’s noticed a slight change in Kohberger’s appearance since her college years. “He definitely looked kind of gaunt and emaciated at that point. A bit older,” said the man.
The former classmate described how he remembered Kohberger in class.
“He’s definitely an awkward character, very tall, thin,” said the former student.
He added that the desks at DeSales are a bit small, so Kohberger, who is about 6 feet tall, could barely fit in the small desks. He said he viewed Kohberger as an outcast because he was clearly someone who was very interested in criminal justice but did not participate in the extracurricular activities surrounding the major, such as the Criminal Justice Club and many criminal justice conferences that the other students attended part. While Kohberger willingly spoke in class, he did not socialize with other major students outside of class.
“He’s definitely articulate, but stuck to small details and pointed out errors in what his professor was saying. Sometimes he scored good points. Sometimes people would say, ‘Can you please shut up so we can move on? It’s not really relevant,'” the former classmate recalled.
The DeSales graduate said he’s been in two classes with Kohberger: one on criminal theory, taught by Michelle Bolger, PhD, and a second, taught by Katherine Ramsland, PhD, that focused on serial killers. The DeSales alumnus said in Bolger’s class that Kohberger sometimes talked about the professor. Ramsland told Law&Crime over the weekend that she is not making any statements to the media at this time.
The former student said that the serial killer course focuses on the psychology and anatomy of the brain and that the material was presented in a professional and skillful manner. Bolger did not respond to an email requesting comment.