adminSend an emailJanuary 13, 2023
0 0 8 minutes read
MOSCOW, Idaho — A criminology Ph.D. student charged with stabbing four University of Idaho students to death had written years ago of having suicidal thoughts, not being able to feel emotions and observing his own life as if were a video game, saying he could do “whatever I want with little remorse.”
The new revelations about the suspect, Bryan Kohberger, come from posts he made on an online forum in which he discussed his mental health struggles, as well as from interviews with those who knew him and messages he sent to friends that were obtained by The New York Times. They paint a portrait of an anxious, isolated and depressed teenager who turned to heroin use before eventually getting clean and becoming fascinated with studying criminal psychology, saying then that he hoped to one day provide counseling for high-profile criminals.
“I feel like an organic sack of meat with no self worth,” he wrote in 2011, when he was 16, adding later, in the same post: “As I hug my family, I look into their faces, I see nothing, it is like I am looking at a video game, but less.”
Now, Mr. Kohberger, 28, is facing murder charges, accused of sneaking into a home shared by students just off the university campus in Moscow, Idaho, and stabbing four of them to death, in the middle of the night. At the time of the killings, Mr. Kohberger was in the first semester of his Ph.D. program at Washington State University, a 15-minute drive from the crime scene.
He has maintained his innocence through his lawyer, and on Thursday waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing. A judge set a June date for the hearing, when prosecutors will outline evidence in an attempt to prove they have probable cause to try him on murder charges.
The police have disclosed some of the evidence that led them to arrest Mr. Kohberger at his parents’ home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, saying they had relied on DNA from a knife sheath left on a bed with two of the victims, cellphone records that suggest his phone had been in the area a dozen times before the murders occurred and surveillance footage of a white Hyundai, like the one Mr. Kohberger drove. But the authorities have not outlined any motive for the killings, leaving families of the victims and acquaintances of the accused killer searching for answers.
“It’s wild,” said Jack Baylis, a Pennsylvania friend of Mr. Kohberger’s who is among those trying to understand how Mr. Kohberger came to be charged with such a heinous killing. “Bryan himself would’ve been fascinated by it.”
Ethan Chapin, left, and Xana Kernodle.Credit…
Kaylee Goncalves, left, and Madison Mogen.Credit…
In online posts by Mr. Kohberger dating from when he was a teenager, he berates himself and describes feeling disconnected from society, unable to find meaning in life. He describes an array of mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, depersonalization, lack of emotion and the “constant thought of suicide.”
The words were posted on a forum website called Tapatalk, previously known as Yuku, where Mr. Kohberger commiserated with other users while suffering from a little-understood neurological condition called visual snow, in which a person’s vision is obscured by scattering dots, much like the static seen on an analog television.
What to Know About the Idaho College Murders
Card 1 of 4
Stabbed to death. On Nov. 13, Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves, four students at the University of Idaho, were found dead at a homenear the campus in Moscow, Idaho. The killings occurred on a typical Saturday night, after two of the victims had been at a bar together and two others had been at a party.
In search of a suspect. Authorities went weekswithout identifying a suspect, pleading with the public for tips and videos that could help them piece together what had led to the crime. On Dec. 30, the police arrested Bryan C. Kohberger, a 28-year-old criminology studentat Washington State University, about 10 miles from Moscow, and chargedhim with murder.
Extradition to Idaho. Mr. Kohberger was taken into custody at his parents’ home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. On Jan. 4, authorities transported him by plane from Pennsylvania, where he had made an initial court appearancethe day before, to Idaho. During that hearing, the suspect agreed to be extradited.
The charges. Mr. Kohberger faces four counts of first-degree murderand one count of felony burglary. Authorities have yet to detail a motive in the case or how investigators came to identify him as a suspect. Mr. Kohberger has said he looks forward to being exonerated, according to his public defender in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Kohberger did not use his name on the website, but the posts included a reference to his birthday. In addition, the username on the account, “Exarr,” matches an email address for Bryan Kohberger that appeared in a 2009 leak of accounts from an online payment company; that account listed his location as Effort, Pa., the place where Mr. Kohberger grew up. Some of the posts also contained details that friends said matched their recollections of his behavior and struggles at the time.
Friends have previously described Mr. Kohberger as having an intellectual bent, but said that he occasionally turned cruel and angry. At Washington State, his peers said he rankled some people with a habit of overexplaining, and sounded particularly condescending when he spoke to his female classmates.
The online posts from his teenage years provide a deeper insight into what appeared to be a dark period of his life. On the forum website, Mr. Kohberger wrote that he saw a “sickly, tired, useless and stupid man” when he looked at himself in the mirror, and felt that he did not deserve to live. He also lamented treating his father “like dirt” though he considered him a good man.
“Nothing I do is enjoyable,” Mr. Kohberger wrote. “I am blank, I have no opinion, I have no emotion, I have nothing. Can you relate?”
Mr. Kohberger said that his absence of emotion had begun about the same time as his visual snow symptoms, in September 2009, and one friend recalled him constantly talking about his fuzzy vision.
“I know it was something that really bugged him,” said Thomas Arntz, who was friends with Mr. Kohberger during high school, until they had a falling out. “He was basically to the point where he was neurotic about it.”
Dr. Francesca Puledda, a neurologist and researcher at King’s College London who specializes in visual snow, said it is so little understood that there is debate among scientists over whether to call it a disease. But Dr. Puledda has worked with people who find the condition to be debilitating.
“We still don’t know what causes it,” she said. “We simply have to do more research.”
Dr. Puledda said that the presence of visual snow is not a sign of mental illness, but noted that one research team found that people who have the syndrome also report a high incidence of psychiatric issues, such as anxiety, depression and depersonalization.
Mr. Kohberger wrote that he had tried anti-migraine medication, visited a neurologist and gone on a strict diet — one that avoided sugar and starch — to try to resolve the vision problem.
“He wouldn’t eat any bread and he would only eat certain fruits,” Mr. Arntz recalled. “It was very restrictive.”
By 2012, it appeared that Mr. Kohberger was learning to live with the problem. Sounding more optimistic, he wrote on the forum that he had accepted his ailment and was coming to terms with it.
Bryan Kohberger at a status hearing in Moscow, Idaho, on Thursday.Credit…Pool photo by Kai Eiselein
He graduated from high school in 2013 but had also begun to use heroin around that time, friends said.
Rich Pasqua, who graduated from high school a few years ahead of Mr. Kohberger, said they used heroin together in 2013 and 2014, at a time when they both worked at a pizza shop called New York Pizza Girl, in Effort, Pa.
Mr. Pasqua, now 31, recalled that Mr. Kohberger was socially awkward and did not appear to have many friends, frequently calling him and offering to share his marijuana. Mr. Pasqua, who said he is now sober and working at a rehabilitation center, recalled in one instance driving with Mr. Kohberger through the gated community where Mr. Kohberger’s parents lived, trying to evade a private security guard.
“We would make it to a cul-de-sac and we’d see their orange lights and Bryan would be like, ‘Go this way!’” Mr. Pasqua recalled. “He was like, ‘We’re going to get in so much trouble.’”
Mr. Pasqua said his wife, who was in Mr. Kohberger’s year, remembered that Mr. Kohberger had been heavier when he was in high school and was bullied over his weight. (Mr. Kohberger wrote in the online forum in 2011 of having lost half his body weight.) And Mr. Pasqua recalled teasing him on one occasion as well, telling Mr. Kohberger to walk to the private community’s gates in the snow to get some heroin from him, only to not be there when he showed up.
Eventually, Mr. Pasqua said, Mr. Kohberger’s father would pick up the phone when he called, once saying that his son was “on a top-secret mission,” which Mr. Pasqua realized meant he was in rehab.
Years later, Mr. Kohberger appeared to be doing much better, studying psychology at DeSales University in Eastern Pennsylvania and telling one friend that his drug problems were in the past.
“I only used when I was in a deep suicidal state,” Mr. Kohberger wrote in May 2018 to Mr. Baylis, with whom he had been friends since eighth grade. “I have since really learned a lot. Not a person alive could convince me to use it.” Mr. Kohberger followed up later that day, telling Mr. Baylis that he had been off drugs for two years and telling him to not mention his drug use again, according to screenshots of their conversation on Facebook Messenger.
He told Mr. Baylis at one point that he thought he had been depressed since he was 5 years old, for so long that he had “developed a weird sense of meaning.”
In one message from October 2018, Mr. Kohberger wrote that he was interested in studying criminals. He said he would like to be involved in capturing violent criminals but that it could be difficult to get a job like that.
“I’m thinking more along the lines of dealing with high-profile offenders,” he wrote. “Counseling.”
Among the details that emerged in a police affidavit last week was that Mr. Kohberger had, last fall, applied for an internship with the Police Department in Pullman, Wash., where he was living while studying at Washington State. Officials have declined to say whether or not he got the internship.
The University of Idaho victims — Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 — were killed after spending a typical Saturday night around town, with two of them going to a party and two others going to a bar before returning home in the early morning hours. Investigators believe all four were killed shortly after 4 a.m.
Two more roommates were at home at the time of the attack but were not hurt. One told the police that she had heard crying and voices around 4 a.m., and had opened her bedroom door to see a man —wearing black clothing and a mask — walking by her toward the home’s back door, according to a police affidavit. The roommate locked herself in her room, and it is unclear what she did after that, but no one in the apartment called 911 until just before noon.
Shanon Gray, a lawyer for the family of Ms. Goncalves, said family members have been searching for information that might show a connection between the victims and Mr. Kohberger, but that no link has emerged so far.
“They didn’t know him,” he said.
From Said That Was With
Did the Idaho suspect feel no emotion? ›
Idaho Murders Suspect Felt 'No Emotion' and 'Little Remorse' as a Teen. Messages and online posts from the Ph. D. student now charged with four murders show that he was once detached and suicidal before he became fascinated with criminals' minds.What did the suspect in four Idaho stabbing deaths write years ago of an inability to feel emotions? ›
More than a decade before Bryan Kohberger was charged with murdering four University of Idaho students, he opened up in an online forum about his struggles to connect with others, having “crazy thoughts” and feeling “no emotion,” writing that he could do “whatever I want with little remorse,” according to a new report.Is emotional abuse a crime in Idaho? ›
(2) Any person who abuses or neglects a vulnerable adult under circumstances other than those likely to produce great bodily harm or death is guilty of a misdemeanor.What does feeling no emotion feel like? ›
Feeling numb inside is different for every individual. In general, people describe it as feeling empty or dead inside, and not caring about anything—even the things you used to care about a lot.Who were the victims of the Idaho murders? ›
Victims. Four University of Idaho students were killed: Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona (she later lived in Post Falls, Idaho); and Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.What was the name of the killer in a famous forensic case in 1888? ›
Jack the Ripper was an English serial killer. Between August and November 1888, he murdered at least five women—all prostitutes—in or near the Whitechapel district of London's East End. Jack the Ripper was never identified or arrested. Today the murder sites are the locus of a macabre tourist industry in London.What name was given to the killer in a famous forensic case in 1888? ›
Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer active in and around the impoverished Whitechapel district of London, England, in the autumn of 1888.Can you sue someone for emotional distress in Idaho? ›
There are two types of emotional distress claims recognized in Idaho courtrooms: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.What is considered emotional abuse in Idaho? ›
Emotional or Verbal
Examples of emotional abuse can include insults, blaming, put downs, mind games and threats. Emotional abuse can be unpredictable, affect self-esteem, and make you doubt your own sense of reality.
Emotional abuse can be a form of psychological trauma that can have a similar impact on the nervous system as physical trauma.
What causes a person to shut down emotionally? ›
There are a number of different things that can cause emotional numbness to occur. While depression and anxiety are the most common causes, others include the following: Stress and stress hormones: Elevated cortisol levels can lead to emotional numbness in some people.What are signs of emotional detachment? ›
- Difficulty showing empathy to others.
- Difficulty sharing emotions or opening up to others.
- Difficulty committing to a relationship or person.
- Feeling disconnected from others.
- Losing touch with people or problems maintaining connections.
- Feeling “numb”
Schizoid personality disorder is one of many personality disorders. It can cause individuals to seem distant and emotionless, rarely engaging in social situations or pursuing relationships with other people.Who is the most popular serial killer? ›
- Jack the Ripper. ...
- Jeffrey Dahmer. ...
- Harold Shipman. ...
- John Wayne Gacy. ...
- H.H. Holmes. ...
- Pedro Lopez. ...
- Ted Bundy.
MOSCOW, Idaho -- It was a gruesome quadruple murder that rocked a college campus and kept the country on edge for weeks as investigators sought the person responsible for the deaths of the University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.Who is the guy that killed 4 students in Idaho? ›
More than six weeks after four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death on Nov. 13 at a home in Moscow, Idaho, a suspect was taken in custody. Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with the case and is being charged with four counts of murder.Who is the most terrifying serial killer in history? ›
- 7 Terrifying Historical Figures.
- Jeffrey Dahmer: He committed his first murder at 18. ...
- Ted Bundy: The first televised murder trial. ...
- Jack the Ripper: There are over 100 possible suspects. ...
- H.H. Holmes: A pharmacist who built a “murder castle” ...
- 8 Notorious Kidnappings.
Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was executed in Florida in 1989 and was linked to a string of murders of young women in several states during the 1970s. He confessed to 35 murders before his execution.Did they find out who Jack the Ripper was? ›
Forensic scientists say they have finally fingered the identity of Jack the Ripper, the notorious serial killer who terrorized the streets of London more than a century ago. Genetic tests published this week point to Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber and a prime police suspect at the time.Who was the first serial killer in world history? ›
Today, though, those achievements can only be seen in the shadow of the secret life he led as the perpetrator of more than a hundred gruesome child murders, a rampage which made him arguably the first serial killer in recorded history. The early life of Gilles de Rais was marked by tragedy.
When did Idaho get rid of the insanity defense? ›
This review of Idaho's 1982 law abolishing the insanity defense considers the law's content, reasons for its enactment, and the likelihood of its being found unconstitutional.Why does Idaho not have an insanity defense? ›
Idaho hasn't had an insanity defense since 1982. It was part of a nationwide uproar after John Hinkley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. In response, many people feared killers would be let loose on the streets using the defense.Does Idaho allow the insanity plea? ›
Although the insanity defense is not available in Idaho, a defendant is permitted to use evidence of mental illness to undermine the prosecution's proof that he was capable of forming the intent necessary to commit the charged crime, or mens rea.Why do they hide their feelings? ›
People often hide emotions to protect their relationships. When someone you care about does something upsetting, you might choose to hide your annoyance. Yes, their actions bothered you. But if they react negatively when you tell them how you feel, you could end up triggering an even more painful conflict.What mental illness did the Idaho killer have? ›
Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger wrote about 'delusions of grandeur' in online forum. Kohberger wrote in 2011 that he had "no emotion" and "little remorse." An acquaintance of Brian Kohberger told ABC News he believes the suspect penned an online post about having visual snow disorder.What US states do not have an insanity defense? ›
Availability. In the United States, a criminal defendant may plead insanity in federal court, and in the state courts of every state except for Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah.How many times has the insanity plea worked? ›
In reality, however, various criminal studies have established that only about one percent of all felony cases in the United States involve use of the insanity defense. Moreover, even when the defense is asserted, it is successful in only about 30 cases every year.What are the four types of insanity defenses? ›
The four versions of the insanity defense are M'Naghten, irresistible impulse, substantial capacity, and Durham.What's the difference between mental illness and insanity? ›
Mental illness is usually a broader and more inclusive term than Insanity. Insanity is usually reserved for describing severe conditions involving psychotic-like breaks with reality, while Mental Illness can include both severe and milder forms of mental problems (such as anxiety disorders and mild depressions).Is Idaho a three strike state? ›
Idaho has a habitual offender law – or three strikes law – that requires a third felony to result in a minimum five-year term. Across the nation, lengths of prison stays have increased by 33 percent from 1993 to 2009.1 Yet, no strong scientific evidence shows that these policies have made communities safer.
What is an Alford plea in Idaho? ›
14. What is an Alford plea? An Alford plea is a type of plea where a defendant does not admit to being guilty to the judge.What is a Rule 11 plea agreement in Idaho? ›
With the approval of the court and the consent of the prosecuting attorney, a defendant may enter a conditional plea of guilty, reserving in writing the right, on appeal from the judgment, to review any specified adverse ruling.What are the consequences of pleading insanity? ›
How does an insanity plea affect sentencing? If you successfully plead the insanity defense, then you will not receive the normal jail/prison sentence for your crime. Instead, you will be committed to a state mental hospital.How to know if a guy loves you but is hiding it without talking? ›
- When he looks at you, he can't help smiling. Once I was out with Sam in a cafe. ...
- He always finds excuses to talk to you or spend time together. ...
- He asks you a lot of personal questions. ...
- He remembers the little details about you. ...
- He always makes an effort to keep the conversation going.
dissimulate. verb. formal to hide your real thoughts, feelings, or intentions.