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Arrest of murder suspect brings ‘great sense of relief’ to college campus ahead of return to class this week, provost says



Following the stabbing deaths of four students in November, the tight-knit community at the University of Idaho has been rocked for weeks, but the recent arrest of a suspect could help the campus regain a sense of safety as students return to class this week.

“I think I speak for many in our community that there’s a great sense of relief, but it’s bittersweet because it’s still a horrible tragedy,” the provost and deputy provost told CNN on Friday. the university’s executive president, Torrey Lawrence.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, is charged with the murder of student Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, who were found brutally stabbed to death in an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho on November 13.

The horrific murders rocked the campus community and the city of Moscow, which had not seen a murder since 2015. The anxiety only worsened as the weeks went by with no suspect named, leading some students to leave campus and complete the semester remotely.

Classes resume on Wednesday after the winter break, and although students who are still not comfortable being on campus have the option of attending remotely, most students plan to return, said Lawrence.

“The timing of this for our students was probably good,” the provost said, adding, “Hopefully we can really focus on just getting classes started and the student experience that we’re providing.”

Security will remain tight on campus, he said, although some measures such as a state patrol presence are no longer in place.

Still, the “very peaceful and safe community” the students enjoyed before the murders has seen a “loss of innocence”, he said.

Kohberger, who is the only suspect, was pursuing a doctorate in criminal justice at nearby Washington State University at the time of the killings and lived minutes from the scene of the killings, authorities said.

Investigators say phone records indicate Kohberger was near the victims’ homes at least 12 times between June 2022 and today, according to an affidavit detailing the evidence against him. Records also show the suspect was near the residence on the morning of the murder, according to court documents.

DNA recovered from the Kohberger family’s trash was linked to DNA found on a tan leather knife sheath found on the bed of one of the victims, according to the affidavit. The DNA in the trash is believed to belong to the biological father of the person whose DNA was found on the sheath, the document says.

The suspect’s white Hyundai Elantra was also seen near the victims’ home at the time of the killings, investigators say. Kohberger received a new license plate for the car five days after the murders, Washington state license records and court documents reveal.

Kohberger first appeared in court in Idaho on Thursday and did not plead guilty at the hearing.

Prior to Kohberger’s arrest, authorities noted the suspect thoroughly cleaned his vehicle and was seen wearing surgical gloves on multiple occasions outside his family’s home in Pennsylvania, a law enforcement source told CNN.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was briefed on observations made by investigators during the four days of surveillance that led to Kohberger’s arrest at the family home.

Kohberger “cleaned his car, inside and out, without missing an inch,” according to the law enforcement source.

A surveillance team assigned to Kohberger has been tasked with two tasks, according to multiple law enforcement sources: to keep tabs on Kohberger so they can arrest him as soon as a warrant is issued, and to try to obtain an item that would provide a DNA sample from Kohberger. , which could then be compared to DNA evidence found at the crime scene.

Kohberger was seen outside the Pennsylvania home several times wearing surgical gloves, according to the law enforcement source.

In one instance prior to Kohberger’s arrest, authorities witnessed him leaving his family home around 4 a.m. and putting trash bags in neighbors’ trash cans, the source said. At the time, officers retrieved trash from the Kohberger family’s trash cans and what was observed was placed in neighbors’ trash cans, the source said.

The recovered objects were sent to the Idaho State Lab, according to the source.

Last Friday, a Pennsylvania State Police SWAT team then moved into the Kohberger family home, smashing the door and windows in what is known as a “dynamic entry” – a tactic used in many rare cases to arrest “high risk” suspects, the sources added.

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