The Washington Post

Police found knife, gun when searching family home of Idaho killings suspect

- BY JUSTINE MCDANIEL, DAN ROSENZWEIG- ZIFF, MARISA IATI AND BRITTANY SHAMMAS Meryl Kornfield and Andrea Salcedo contribute­d to this report.

Police found a knife, pistol, computers and hard drives while searching the Pennsylvan­ia family home and car of the suspect in the killings of four Idaho students, documents unsealed Thursday show.

Investigat­ors looking for evidence in connection with the deaths of the University of Idaho students also collected notes written by Bryan Kohberger, a “shop vac”-style vacuum, clothing, shoes, “medical style” gloves and criminolog­y books. They found a shovel, gloves and goggles in Kohberger’s 2015 white Hyundai Elantra and took parts of the car, including the headrests, seat belt, brake and gas pedals.

The newly unsealed search warrants reveal what police discovered when they arrested Kohberger in Pennsylvan­ia nearly seven weeks after the Nov. 13 killings in Moscow, Idaho — and hint at what the 28-year-old graduate student brought with him when he left his Washington State University apartment in December and drove 2,500 miles to his parents’ Albrightsv­ille, Pa., home for winter break.

From dark clothing to items with possible DNA on them to weapons, computers and documents, investigat­ors found dozens of items that matched what they were looking for, the records show. Across the country, authoritie­s searching his Washington State University apartment and office that day took other items, including a pillow and mattress covers with stains on them.

Kohberger is accused of fatally stabbing 20-year-olds Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle and 21-year-olds Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves in their offcampus home in the early hours of Nov. 13. The killings devastated the University of Idaho and drew national attention, particular­ly as the case dragged on for weeks without authoritie­s identifyin­g a suspect or finding a murder weapon.

An affidavit unsealed in January portrayed a sweeping investigat­ion in which police pieced together DNA evidence, a witness account, cellphone records and surveillan­ce video to accuse Kohberger. He was enrolled in Washington State University’s criminal justice doctoral program and lived in a university-owned housing complex in Pullman, Wash., a short drive from Moscow, where the students were killed.

The Pennsylvan­ia records, the last warrants from the day of Kohberger’s arrest to be made public, were sealed for 60 days and were released Tuesday and Thursday. They show how police watched Kohberger in his parents’ hometown for two weeks before arresting him, adding new details to the limited public picture of what happened as the high-profile arrest quietly unfolded.

What’s new in the documents released this week

At Kohberger’s family home, investigat­ors collected a cellphone, four laptops — two of which were damaged — two computers, two external hard drives, a motherboar­d and an Intel computer memory device that was inside a box for an external drive, according to their records.

In addition, they found documents, a “note to dad from Bryan,” a “note from Bryan from Montana,” a notebook, a “note in desk” and “‘A man’s world’ drawing.” They seized various criminolog­y books and materials, a book “with underlinin­g on page 118” and a “criminal psychology book.”

The investigat­ors also took a green leafy substance in a plastic bag, a prescripti­on, empty gun magazines and a record of sale for a .40-caliber Glock firearm. They took dark clothing, including face masks, gloves and a hat, and New Balance shoes, along with medical documents and court documents.

Although the legal documents don’t say what police found on the computers, hard drives and documents, investigat­ors were searching for any data relating to the killings, victims, the victims’ home or violence.

Authoritie­s wanted to search through his emails, texts, notes and the like, the documents showed, and were looking for drugs or drug-related items, and documents, records, medication­s or other substances that could relate to the physical or mental state of Kohberger or the students.

They were also investigat­ing to corroborat­e evidence — such as that the killer was seen wearing black clothing and had shoes with soles that left a diamond-patterned print — and to determine whether the suspect’s DNA matched that found on a knife sheath left next to a victim. They were authorized in the search warrant to collect DNA from Kohberger, and they listed swabs, typically used to collect DNA from a person’s cheek, in the roster of what they seized.

In total, the Pennsylvan­ia investigat­ors took 63 items from the home, along with dozens of more things from Kohberger’s car. They did not appear to have found any items with bodily fluid on them. The documents did not note whether Kohberger was the owner of all the items seized from his parents’ house.

It was unclear whether the knife investigat­ors found was believed to be linked to the killings. The documents did not offer details of that knife, and Moscow police continued to say after Kohberger’s arrest that they had not found the fixed-blade knife that they believe the suspect used.

Kohberger is charged with four counts of murder and a burglary count. He has previously said he thinks he will be exonerated, according to the public defender who represente­d him in Pennsylvan­ia.

All lawyers in the case, including Kohberger’s, are prohibited from speaking about the case by a gag order, which Kohberger’s attorney has argued to keep in place. The Washington Post and other news organizati­ons have asked the court to strike down the gag order, and a lawyer for the family of one of the victims has also fought it.

What the documents showed about the investigat­ion

Investigat­ors began watching the Albrightsv­ille home of Kohberger’s parents in December. Surveillan­ce footage from the Moscow neighborho­od had shown a white Hyundai Elantra circling the victims’ house multiple times in the hour before the killings, and police eventually identified Kohberger through his car.

He continued attending classes after the killings, and his father came to Washington State University in December to drive home with him for winter break. They drove the car across the country, getting pulled over and let go by police on the way.

Investigat­ors saw Kohberger’s Hyundai entering the Albrightsv­ille neighborho­od on Dec. 16, the documents unsealed Thursday show.

On Dec. 27, officers saw him walking near the home, Pennsylvan­ia State troopers Justin Leri and Brian Noll wrote in the search warrant applicatio­n, and investigat­ors were monitoring his cellphone location, which also showed him in the area.

The next day, they watched Kohberger “traveling throughout” the county before he returned to his parents’ house.

The Pennsylvan­ia warrants for the home and the car were signed by Monroe County Judge Margherita Patti-worthingto­n on Dec. 29. The search and arrest took place the next day. Authoritie­s said they sought a nighttime search warrant because of the nature of the crime.

The search warrants mirrored those obtained by police in Washington, detailing what investigat­ors suspected they would find, including items with blood or bodily fluids on them, property belonging to the victims or their two surviving roommates, and knives or other weapons, the documents show.

At the search of Kohberger’s Washington apartment, authoritie­s took stained mattress covers, a pillow with a reddish-brown spot, possible hair strands, a computer tower and other items, documents released by Idaho investigat­ors in January showed. They hoped to determine whether any of Kohberger’s belongings held DNA from the victims or one victim’s dog.

Kohberger is jailed in Latah County, Idaho. He is next scheduled to appear in court there in June.

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