Family of suspect in Idaho slayings voices sympathy for victims
STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Relatives of a man arrested in Pennsylvania in the slayings of four University of Idaho students expressed sympathy for the victims’ families but also vowed to support him and promote “his presumption of innocence.”
Bryan Kohberger, 28, is eager to be exonerated and plans to tell a judge Tuesday in Pennsylvania that he will not fight extradition to Idaho, said his public defender, Jason LaBar.
Moscow, Idaho, police Capt. Anthony Dahlinger said that would speed up the process of bringing Kohberger to Idaho to face charges, but that he wasn’t sure yet when that might happen.
Kohberger, a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, was taken into custody early Friday by state police at his parents’ home in Chestnuthill Township in eastern Pennsylvania, authorities said.
His parents, Michael and Maryann, and his two older sisters, Amanda and Melissa, said in a statement released Sunday by his attorney that they “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 each day for them.”
The family said that relatives will continue to let the legal process unfold, and that “as a family we will love and support our son and brother.” They say they have fully cooperated with law enforcement to try to to “seek the truth and promote his presumption of innocence rather than judge unknown facts and make erroneous assumptions.”
LaBar, the public defender in Monroe County, Idaho, urged people not to pass judgment until a fair trial has been held.
“Mr. Kohberger has been accused of very serious crimes, but the American justice system cloaks him in a veil of innocence,” LaBar said in a statement. “He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise — not tried in the court of public opinion.”
Capt. Dahlinger told The Associated Press on Saturday that authorities believe Kohberger was responsible for all four murders. “We believe we’ve got our man,” he said.
Bill Thompson, a prosecutor in Latah County, Idaho, said during a news conference Friday that investigators believe Kohberger broke into the University of Idaho students’ home near campus “with the intent to commit murder.” The bodies of the victims were found Nov. 13, several hours after investigators believe they died.
The students — Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington — were members of the university’s Greek system and close friends. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in the three-story rental home with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating, and he was visiting the house that night.
Autopsies showed all four were likely asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault, police said.
Christina Teves, a spokesperson for the Chapin family, declined to comment Monday on the Kohberger family’s statement. Shanon Gray, a lawyer for the Goncalves family, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Latah County prosecutors have said the affidavit for four charges of first-degree murder in Idaho will remain sealed until he is returned. He is also charged with felony burglary in Idaho. Many details of the case are expected to be released after Kohberger’s first appearance in an Idaho courtroom, Dahlinger said.