Idaho murders case gets darker, but patience is key

It’s been more than 50 days since four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death inside a house. Two of the victims, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, were 20 years old; the other two, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, were 21 years old. For weeks, bits and pieces of information surfaced; Two of the victims had gone to a bar and then a food truck before they died. Investigators said they believed the attack was targeted but could not say “whether the target was housing or residents”.

People scratched their heads for weeks. Reddit threads sprouted. On December 29, police in Moscow, Idaho, said they were working on “more than 9,025 emailed tips, 4,575 phone tips” and “6,050 digital media presentations” and conducted “over 300 interviews”.

The next day, however, saw an explosive update in the case: investigators announced that they had arrested a suspect, Bryan Christopher Kohberger, in Pennsylvania on a warrant for the murders. Kohberger, 28, is a graduate student at Washington State University, located near the state border between Washington and Idaho. The case has been making its way through the legal system in the days since his arrest. As of December 31, Kohberger is being “held without bond in Pennsylvania” and plans to waive the hearing to be extradited to Idaho, the Associated Press reported.

Kohberger’s defense attorney and attorney general, Jason LaBar, said in a statement, “Mr. Kohberger has been charged with very serious crimes, but the American justice system conceals him in a veil of innocence. He must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise – unless tried in a public court of law.”

Meanwhile, the police are trying to gather as much information as possible about the man they identify as the prime suspect. Investigators opened a tip line and told the AP they received “400 phone calls in the first hour after the press conference.” [during which they announced the arrest], this is great. Captain Anthony Dahlinger of the Moscow Police Department told the news agency that they wanted to know “who he is, his background, how we got to this event, why this event happened”.

Some elements of Kohberger’s life were filtered by news coverage. Kohberger was working towards a PhD in criminology. A former classmate seemed “too weird” to the AP, and it seemed like he was “always looking for a way to fit in”. About seven months ago, she apparently posted a poll on Reddit that attempted to ask people who committed crimes about their “thoughts and feelings throughout the experience.”

After a shocking, violent crime, the hunger for answers is inevitable and understandable. It’s tempting to read every piece of information reported about Kohberger as if it came from tea leaves. But there is much that we do not understand and do not know. Authorities did not discuss a possible cause. At the time of writing this, the main suspect has yet to appear in court. That doesn’t mean the answers won’t come – especially if the case goes to court, the answers might. And this is not an indictment based on the information transmitted so far. Of course people want to know everything about the case. Of course, journalists follow every lead and speak to anyone who may have insight to share.

But as I read the case, I must remind myself to be wary of tunnel vision. I think of all criminology students. didn’t eventually becomes a suspect in a murder investigation. I think of all the people who documented their curiosity about crime without being accused of committing a crime. I think about how looking back affects our judgment and can lead us to make sense of things that seemed random a few moments ago.

And most importantly, I think of the four victims – Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves. He told the Associated Press after his mother’s death that the triplets Ethan spent his last day with his siblings. During her high school graduation, Xana Kernodle “decorated her pocket board with carvings of flowers and butterflies and the words ‘For the Lives I Will Change’.” Kaylee Goncalves was “social, quirky, contagious, and somewhat “stupid” according to her obituary, and “she was a hard worker, always had a full-time job in addition to her studies, even in high school.” He was known for his ability to make you smile and laugh”.

These are the facts I believe in, and I hope the facts don’t get overshadowed in the latest headline wave.

Leave a Comment