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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
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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
Who is Kaylee Goncalves sister? ›
Alivea Goncalves, sister of victim Kaylee Goncalves, spoke out in an interview with NewsNation senior national correspondent Brian Entin for the first time since the affidavit linking suspect Bryan Kohberger to the case became public. “We had no idea.Who were the victims of the Idaho murders? ›
More than six weeks after four University of Idaho students were mysteriously stabbed to death in a house near the Moscow, Idaho, campus, a suspect was identified and taken into custody. The four slain students were Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.What happened in Moscow Idaho? ›
What to Know About the Idaho College Murders. 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 home near the campus in Moscow, Idaho.Why was Kaylee moving to Texas? ›
Goncalves's parents, Steve and Kristi, told NBC's Dateline in an interview that their daughter was in Moscow, Idaho, wanting to see her best friend and fellow victim, Madison Mogen, 21, before moving to Texas to start an information technology job.Who is Kaylee Goncalves mother? ›
During a memorial service, Goncalves' mother, Kristi, took the stand to share some memories of her daughter and said her daughter was a huge part of the family. "Kaylee was our middle child out of five," Kristi said. "Kaylee was a huge part of our family, the dynamics of our family will never be the same."Who was the serial killer in Nampa Idaho? ›
His name is Thomas Eugene Creech, and he's been on death row in Idaho for over 37 years now for the murder of prison inmate David Dale Jensen on May 13th of 1981, but that isn't the only murder Creech is convicted of committing and it isn't the only time Creech was sentenced to death row.What serial killers were in Idaho? ›
Idaho's most well-known serial killer is Joseph Edward Duncan III, who murdered 5 to 7 (or more) people from 1996-2005 in Wolf Lodge, Idaho. Idaho was also home to Lyda Southard, also known as Lady Bluebeard, who is considered to be Idaho's first serial killer.What is the racial makeup of Moscow Idaho? ›
|White alone, percent|| 88.6%|
|Black or African American alone, percent(a)|| 1.6%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent(a)|| 1.3%|
|Asian alone, percent(a)|| 3.0%|
The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, Festival Dance, Renaissance Fair, Rendezvous in the Park, Artwalk and the Prichard Art Gallery are reasons why Moscow is known as the "Heart of the Arts." Moscow has also been rated as one of the "Best 100 Small Art Towns in America" which includes an award winning ...Is Moscow Idaho a good place to live? ›
Moscow is in Latah County and is one of the best places to live in Idaho. Living in Moscow offers residents a dense suburban feel and most residents rent their homes. In Moscow there are a lot of bars and coffee shops. Many young professionals live in Moscow and residents tend to lean conservative.
Did Kaylee move out of the Idaho house? ›
Kaylee Goncalves had just moved out of the house she shared with her longtime best friend, 21-year-old Madison “Maddie” Mogen.Why are Texans moving to Arizona? ›
Texas is one of the top 10 states that feed new residents to Arizona. The dry heat, abundant recreational activities, and smaller feel attracted more than 15,000 Texans between 2015 and 2019.Why are families moving to Texas? ›
People are moving to Texas primarily for economic reasons. They want good job opportunities and to be able to afford the type of lifestyle they want to live. When you look at the West Coast compared to Texas, there's a gigantic difference in housing prices.Who is Maddie Mogen mother? ›
13 when Karen Laramie, the mother of his daughter, Madison Mogen, called.Who is Madison Mogen father? ›
Ben Mogen, father of Madison Mogen. Madison was one of the University of Idaho victims. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Ben Mogen described what his daughter, Madison, was like, and called it "surreal" to see news about her death.Who is Kaylee Goncalves dad? ›
Steve Goncalves' daughter, Kaylee, was taken from him nearly two months ago. The man accused of murdering the four students was arrested in Pennsylvania and flown to Idaho this week.Who is the number 1 serial killer in the world? ›
1: Pedro Alonso Lopez. In 2002, Pedro Alonso Lopez received 14 years in prison in Ecuador for killing mostly young girls. He claimed to have killed over 300 people. The "Monster of the Andes" just might be the world's most prolific serial killer.Which state has the most homicides? ›
The state with the highest murder rate is Louisiana with a homicide rate of 22.9 per 100,000 people. The second state with the highest murder rate in the US is Missouri, with a murder rate of 18 murders per 100,000.Is Anthony Briley still alive? ›
Linwood and James were sentenced to death. In 1984, the two elder brothers escaped death row with four other inmates but were recaptured within three weeks. Linwood and James were executed by electric chair in 1984 and 1985, respectively. Anthony Briley and Duncan Meekins are both still incarcerated.Who was the scariest serial killer? ›
- Jack the Ripper. ...
- Jeffrey Dahmer. ...
- Harold Shipman. ...
- John Wayne Gacy. ...
- H.H. Holmes. ...
- Pedro Lopez. ...
- Ted Bundy.
Who was the most depraved serial killer? ›
- Ted Bundy (1946-1989) ...
- Harold Shipman (1946-2004) ...
- Andrei Chikatilo (1936- 1994) ...
- Jeffrey Dahmer (1960- 1994) ...
- Albert Fish (1870-1936) ...
- John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994) ...
- Jack the Ripper (Unidentified Serial Killer ∼1888) ...
- Joachim Kroll (1933-1991)
Samuel Little (born Samuel McDowell; June 7, 1940 – December 30, 2020) was an American serial killer who confessed to murdering 93 women between 1970 and 2005.Who is the most famous serial killer in America? ›
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.What is the serial killer capital of the world? ›
Washington DC has the highest rate of serial killings, with 25 victims per 100,000 residents. Alaska has the second-highest rate at 7 per 100,000; Louisiana comes in third with 6.5 serial killings per 100,000.What is the largest ethnic group in Idaho? ›
In 2021, 13.3 percent of Idaho residents were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). A further 81.4 percent of the population were white, and 9.4 percent of Idaho residents were of two or more races in that same year.What percentage of blacks live in Idaho? ›
Asian: 1.4% Native American: 1.31% Black or African American: 0.66% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.18%Can you drink tap water in Moscow Idaho? ›
The City of Moscow, as a regulated Public Drinking Water System, is required to provide a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to its customers annually. The water we supply is tested regularly to ensure compliance with state and federal safe drinking water regulations.Is Moscow Idaho a Mormon town? ›
The primary religious affiliation in Moscow, Idaho is Protestant.What is Idaho city known for? ›
Idaho City was once the largest mining community in the Pacific Northwest during the gold rush about 150 years ago. It was even bigger than Portland, Oregon at the time with about 7,000 residents. Today, you can explore the remnants of the old western town as well as the picturesque Sawtooth Mountains.What city in Idaho is safest? ›
What is the most common job in Idaho? ›
|Rank||Job Title||Average Salary|
|3||Customer Service Representative||$26,355|
|4||Certified Nursing Assistant||$25,727|
- Shelley. ...
- Lewiston. ...
- Idaho Falls. ...
- Coeur d'Alene. ...
- Pocatello. ...
- Sandpoint. ...
- Twin Falls. Set in South Central Idaho, Twin Falls lies along the stunning Snake River with the large and lively city acting as a hub for the surrounding region. ...
Sister of murdered Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves says it's chilling to learn 'true evil was watching' “I had no idea that true evil was genuinely watching them,” Alivea Goncalves, 26, sister of victim Kaylee Goncalves, 21, said in an interview with NewsNation Sunday.Who is Kaylee Goncalves mom and dad? ›
Kristi and Steve Goncalves told Dateline that their daughter, 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, was due to graduate from college early and had lined up a job with an IT firm in Austin, Texas. Kaylee Goncalves had just moved out of the house she shared with her longtime best friend, 21-year-old Madison “Maddie” Mogen.What was Kaylee Goncalves job in Austin Texas? ›
Kaylee Goncalves had lined up a job with an IT firm in Austin and recently moved out of the house where she was killed.Did Kaylee Goncalves move out? ›
Steve and Kristi Goncalves (pictured) told Dateline NBC in a recent interview that the new details seemed to paint a clearer picture of their daughter's final moments.Where did Kaylee Goncalves go to high school? ›
We were 6. After much convincing of her parents, Kaylee went to Lake City High School before attending the University of Idaho with Maddie. She joined the Alpha Phi sorority and was studying to become an Elementary School teacher.Who were the roommates of Kaylee Goncalves? ›
I had no idea that true evil was genuinely watching them,” Alivea told NewsNation. Alivea said she had spoken with Kaylee every day before her sister was killed along with her roommates Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle's boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20.Was Kaylee targeted? ›
Kaylee Goncalves and three other Idaho University students murdered in the early hours of November 13 may have been attacked because the house they were in "was full of young women" rather than her being specifically targeted, according to her family's lawyer.Who is Katie Goncalves parents? ›
Kristi and Steve Goncalves, parents of Idaho murder victim Kaylee, sit down for an interview with ABC News. The parents of 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, one of the four slain University of Idaho students, are desperate for answers as police continue to look for suspects.
What does Kaylee's Dad do? ›
The grieving father of murdered University of Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves is working with his own private investigators — because he fears cops in the major case are too “inexperienced.”Who is Kaylee Jade? ›
In court, Kaylee-Jade was described as a “happy child” who died from serious chest and abdominal injuries. But a medical examination conducted after her death found past injuries that indicated even more abuse, including broken ribs, lower leg fractures, and a broken sternum.