In November 2022, four University of Idaho students were found dead in a home near campus after a student called 911 to report “an unconscious individual.” Authorities described the killings as a “crime of passion,” an isolated, targeted attack with an edged weapon. The victims were later identified as Xana Kernodle, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, and Ethan Chapin. Kernodle was in a relationship with Chapin, and the four victims were close friends involved in sororities and fraternities.
The night before the attack, Chapin and Kernodle reportedly attended a party, while Mogen and Goncalves went to a bar downtown. The four friends later gathered at the house, a large rental that police say showed no signs of forced entry. The two other roommates were in the house during the attack, but they were unharmed. Police have said that one of the survivors called 911 at approximately 11:58 a.m. to report an unconscious person, believing one of their roommates had passed out.
Following the killings, police initially said they had not identified a suspect. Police said the murder weapon wasn’t found at the house but did not go into further detail. James Fry, Moscow police chief, said the police department was reviewing “video that has been collected” in the case and asked citizens to contact the department with tips. The murders, which took place the same day that a gunman killed three students at the University of Virginia, left the University of Idaho community on edge.
In December, police said they wanted to speak with the driver of a white 2011–13 Hyundai Elantra, which was seen near the crime scene on the morning of the killings. They said, “Investigators believe the occupant(s) of this vehicle may have critical information to share regarding this case.” On December 30, Bryan Kohberger, a criminology graduate student, was arrested at his parents’ home in Effort, Pennsylvania, more than six weeks after the killings. Kohberger had been pursuing a Ph.D. at Washington State University, about ten miles from the University of Idaho, and had previously earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and cloud-based forensics. Authorities have not yet outlined a motive for the killings.
The FBI reportedly tracked Kohberger and his father from Washington to Pennsylvania and asked Indiana cops to pull him over to secure images of his hands. Indiana authorities pulled Kohberger over twice on December 15. First, a deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department stopped him for following another vehicle too closely while driving the Elantra. Indiana State Police said at the time that there was “no information that he was involved in any criminal activity.” However, moments later, Indiana State Police pulled him over again, claiming he had made an illegal U-turn. It is not clear why they pulled him over a second time or whether they took any photographs of his hands.
The University of Idaho community was rocked by the deaths of four students, who were murdered in a crime of passion that left many unanswered questions. Following weeks of investigation, authorities arrested Bryan Kohberger, a criminology graduate student, in connection with the killings. Kohberger is currently being held in Idaho, and authorities have not yet outlined a motive for the killings. The tragedy has left the university community in mourning and serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining safety and security both on and off-campus.