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Police reveal DNA led investigators to suspect in Idaho student murders

A person linked to the slaying of four University of Idaho students was taken into custody in Pennsylvania on a warrant accusing him of first-degree murder.
/ Source: TODAY

At a press conference on Dec. 30, police in Moscow, Idaho, revealed more information about the man arrested in the killings of four University of Idaho students.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry said Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was apprehended in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania.

He confirmed that Kohberger is a graduate student at Washington State University, which is located across the state line about 10 miles away, in Pullman, Washington.

Latah County prosecuting attorney Bill Thompson also spoke at the press conference and added that Kohberger is facing four counts of first degree murder as well as one felony burglary charge.

He explained that the details surrounding his arrest and the information used to charge Kohberger will remain sealed in the probable cause affidavit court records until the suspect is brought back to Idaho and charged locally. He remains in Pennsylvania for the time being.

Thompson explained it "can take a while for him to get here" due to the extradition process.

Following the press conference, two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News that DNA played a role in leading investigators to Kohberger.

Court records provided to NBC News show that Kohberger was arrested on a warrant from the Moscow Police Department in Idaho accusing him of first-degree murder. On Friday, a judge ordered him to be extradited from Pennsylvania back to Idaho, according to court records. He is slated to make another court appearance in Pennsylvania on Jan. 3, Thompson said.

Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, Kaylee Goncalves, and Ethan Chapin.
Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, Kaylee Goncalves, and Ethan Chapin.

Police have been investigating the deaths of Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, since the four University of Idaho students were killed in a home near campus on Nov. 13.

Authorities believe the students were killed inside the house while they slept, although some had defensive wounds. Chapin, Kernodle's boyfriend, was staying overnight at the house where the other three lived, according to investigators.

Police in Moscow had previously announced that they have been searching for a white Hyundai Elantra as a possible piece of evidence. During the Dec. 30 press conference, Fry confirmed they found "an Elantra."

The arrest is the most significant development in a case that had investigators emphasizing that it had not gone cold despite no murder weapon or suspect having been identified a month after the slayings.

Investigators said they analyzed more than 19,000 tips and conducted at least 150 interviews.

Moscow police also initially said they believe the stabbings were “targeted” and “isolated,” but later told NBC News the house may have been targeted, not the individuals living inside.

On Dec. 30 Fry said that he believes the community is “safe” but did not outright say police believe Kohberger acted alone.

People magazine reports Kohberger was originally listed as a Ph.D student at WSU in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, according to the college’s website, which has since been removed.

Previously, Kohberger got his undergraduate and graduate degree at Desales University, a private catholic university in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

The school confirmed on Dec. 30 that Kohberger had finished his graduate studies in June 2022 and received his bachelor's degree in 2020.

"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," the university said in a statement.

The University of Idaho held a candlelight vigil for victims on Nov. 30, and a "celebration of life" for Mogen and Goncalves is planned for Dec. 30.

The president of the University of Idaho, Scott Green, said that the news of the suspect's arrest was a "relief."

"The outpouring of support over the past six weeks helps sustain us during the most trying times," he said at the press conference on Dec. 30. "It provided the strength that helped us navigate the international scrutiny visited on our students and employees. We are truly thankful for the compassion and acts of kindness shown to our community. Kindness is contagious. And it provided the light that reclaimed Ground laws to evil and darkness.

Green added that they "never lost faith" that the case would be solved.