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Man charged in the University of Idaho murders studied criminology at a nearby university

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was a doctoral student in the criminal justice and criminology department at Washington State University.

The Pennsylvania man charged in the killing of four University of Idaho students was a doctoral student at nearby Washington State University studying in the criminal justice and criminology department.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was booked into custody on an arrest warrant out of Moscow, Idaho, charging him with first-degree murder, court records show. He was being held at the Monroe County Correctional Facility, according to court records.

Kohberger was arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police in Chestnuthill Township seven weeks after four students were stabbed to death in their beds — an event that stunned residents in tiny Moscow, perplexed police and prompted a nationwide manhunt.

Bryan Kohberger.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, in an arrest photo released on Friday.Monroe County Correctional Facility

A Pennsylvania judge in Monroe County, north of Allentown, on Friday ordered that Kohberger be extradited to Idaho next month, court records showed.

Killed in the Nov. 13 attack were Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.

A motive has not been disclosed.

More in-depth coverage of the Idaho student slayings

"We are still putting together the pieces," Moscow Police Chief James Fry said at a news conference after the arrest was announced.

The chief public defender of Monroe County, Jason A. LaBar, said in an interview Saturday that his client is "eager to be exonerated."

LaBar is representing the Kohberger in the Idaho extradition request, which is not being challenged, he said. LaBar, who is not part of Kohberger's murder defense, said he spoke with his client for about an hour Friday following his arrest.

"He was very aware, but calm, and really shocked by his arrest," LaBar said, adding of the man's parents, "They are also shocked. They said it's out of character for Brian. They just really taken aback."

LaBar said Kohberger "believes he would have been in Pullman at the time" of the killings, referring to the Washington city where he studies, about 9 miles from Moscow.

Moscow police and the Latah County Prosecutor's Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the attorney's statements.

County prosecutor Bill Thompson said at a news conference Friday that a narrative supporting murder charges is contained in court documents sealed under state law but likely to become available when the defendant arrives in Idaho.

"We are limited on what we are allowed by the courts to say outside of the courtroom," he said.

Kohberger, who most recently was living in an apartment in Pullman, appeared to have a keen interest in crime. He was listed as a Ph.D. student in the department of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University, which is 10 miles west and just across the state line from the University of Idaho.

Shortly after Kohberger's arrest was announced, WSU took down a graduate student page listing his name.

Fellow WSU criminal justice grad student Ben Roberts said Kohberger came off as confident and outgoing but also seemed like “he was always looking for a way to fit in.”

“It’s pretty out of left field,” Roberts told The Associated Press. “I had honestly just pegged him as being super awkward.”

Kohberger graduated from nearby DeSales University in 2020 with a degree in psychology and earned a master of arts in criminal justice from DeSales in the spring, DeSales University said in a statement Friday.

"Kohberger received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed his graduate studies in June 2022," the statement said. "As a Catholic, Salesian community, we are devastated by this senseless tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families during this difficult time."

Seven months ago, a person with the name Bryan Kohberger took part in a research project that required him to reach out directly to people who had been arrested. At the time, the person identified himself a "student investigator" at DeSales University and was using a school-issued email address.

"My name is Bryan, and I am inviting you to participate in a research project that seeks to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime," Kohberger wrote in a post that appeared seven months ago on a Reddit community for former prisoners. "In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience."

Earlier, a Bryan Kohberger worked as a security guard in the nearby Pleasant Valley School District where he was credited in 2018 with helping save the life of a hall monitor who was having an asthma attack, The Pocono Record reported.