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Amanda Zhou / The Seattle Times
Documents unsealed Thursday in the killing of four University of Idaho students detail the role Washington police played in identifying and apprehending a Pullman graduate student accused in the homicides.
Police used Washington State University vehicle records and traffic-camera footage to identify 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger, who was arrested last week in Pennsylvania and extradited to Idaho, where he faces four counts of first-degree murder and a single count of felony burglary.
Kohberger appeared for the first time Thursday in Latah County District Court in Moscow, marking the latest development in a case that has gripped the college town and seized national media attention.
The unsealed affidavit, written by Moscow Police Cpl. Brett Payne, offers the public’s first glimpse at the reasoning behind Latah County prosecutor’s accusations against Kohberger in the Nov. 13 stabbing deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Conway resident Ethan Chapin.
The affidavit shows that Washington licensing records and WSU police officers helped investigators connect the description of a possible suspect vehicle to Kohberger. Pullman police also provided information on Kohberger’s educational background.
Investigators said a white Hyundai Elantra made between 2011 and 2016 was seen on surveillance footage before and after the homicides in the neighborhood where the students were killed.
Payne wrote that investigators saw on WSU surveillance footage a similar car traveling away from Pullman in the hours before investigators believe the killings occurred. FBI officials reviewed the footage and determined the vehicle was an Elantra made between 2014 and 2016.
Around two weeks after the killings, the Moscow Police Department asked WSU police officers to be on the lookout for white Elantras. A few days later, a WSU officer looked up white Elantras registered at the university and found a 2015 Elantra registered to Kohberger.
The same day, another WSU police officer also saw the car in the parking lot of Kohberger’s home and looked up his driver’s license information and photograph, according to the court document.
Payne wrote that he also reviewed body-camera footage and a report from an October 2022 WSU police traffic stop involving the 2015 Elantra, which indicated that Kohberger was driving the car. Payne also said he reviewed Washington licensing records and learned the car had previously been registered in Pennsylvania.
Pullman police also shared records from Kohberger’s application for an internship in the fall of 2022. The records showed Kohberger has undergraduate degrees in psychology and cloud-based forensics and was interested in helping rural law enforcement agencies collect and analyze data.
Kohberger was a graduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at WSU’s Pullman campus, about 10 miles from where the killings occurred.
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