After police charged a criminology grad student with the murder of four University of Idaho students, the suspect's choice of academic field is raisin
After police charged a criminology grad student with the murder of four University of Idaho students, the suspect’s choice of academic field is raising questions about whether his studies were part of a twisted criminal fantasy.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, who was arrested early Friday, has a master’s degree in criminal justice, and was pursuing a PhD in criminology at nearby Washington State University at the time of the murders.
‘I suspect that Kohberger was well aware of his dark nature and homicidal ideation and endeavored to discover more about himself through his studies,’ said Enzo Yaksic, a criminal profiler and founder of the Atypical Homicide Research Group in Boston, in an email to DailyMail.com.
‘But pursuing an advanced degree to become a better murderer is a foolhardy exercise,’ he added, ‘as nothing more is learned about such tactics and strategies than can be found on a popular podcast or true crime book.’
Yaksic added: ‘If Kohberger is an aspiring serial murderer who desired to commit the perfect murder, he quickly learned what many have discovered in the modern-age: it is far more difficult to get away with serial killing today than when Ted Bundy was active.’
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, who was arrested early Friday in the murder of four college students, has a master’s degree in criminal justice, and was pursuing a PhD in criminology
Atypical Homicide Research Group founder Enzo Yaksic (left), and former FBI agent Jonathan T. Gilliam (right) both spoke with DailyMail.com about Kohberger’s background
Earlier this year, Kohberger appealed to criminals on Reddit, asking them to share their experiences to help him with his graduate studies
Just five months before the murders, Kohberger carried out an anonymous survey of criminal offenders as part of his studies, probing their ‘thoughts and feelings’ and tactics in carrying out their crimes.
‘I suspect we’ll find out he was becoming satiated for a period of time learning from these criminals — but once that wasn’t doing it anymore, he took it from fantasy to real life,’ said former FBI agent Jonathan T. Gilliam in a phone interview with DailyMail.com.
‘Quite often, a person evolves over time, and as their desires evolve, the only way they can get those things satiated evolves too,’ added Gilliam. ‘Every step of the way, he probably became a little bit more odd and a little bit more deviant.’
Idaho murders arrest: the latest
Last spring, Kohberger completed a masters in criminal studies at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where according to the Daily Beast he studied under famed forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, whose books include How to Catch a Killer and The Mind of a Murderer.
While he was at DeSales, Kohberger took to Reddit in May with a post seeking criminals to complete his survey about how they selected their targets and carried out offenses.
‘Hello, 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,’ he wrote in a Reddit post in May.
‘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,’ he said.
Forensic teams and police work at the apartment of Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, on Washington State University on Friday
While he was at DeSales, Kohberger took to Reddit in May with a post seeking criminals to complete his survey about how they selected their targets and carried out offenses
Yaksic noted that the questions in Kohberger’s survey of criminal offenders seemed focused on ‘crowdsourcing the best ways to plan for and get away with crime.’
‘This line of questioning hints at an unsophisticated offender who was not confident in his own abilities,’ said Yaksic.
At the time of the murders, Kohberger was in the first semester of his PhD program at Washington State, and Yaksic speculated ‘the arrogance inherent to being an academic’ may have contributed to his arrest.
‘It has always been a myth that uber-intelligent serial murderers are able to avoid all obstacles and remain one step ahead of the police,’ the profiler added.
‘This case perfectly encapsulates how even someone with a graduate degree is no better able to get away with murder than a common thug.’
Kohberger was apprehended at his family’s home in Pennsylvania nearly seven weeks after the November 13 slayings of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves in Moscow, Idaho.
The four college students were all stabbed to death in an off-campus house, likely as they slept, after they returned home late from a Saturday night out.
Kohberger was arrested on Friday at his parent’s home in the Poconos (above)
Kaylee Goncalves, Maddie Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, were murdered on November 13
Police reportedly tied Kohberger to the crime through DNA.
Though he has no criminal record that would put his DNA on file, investigators were able to match genetic evidence to a family member of the suspect using genealogy databases, CNN reported, citing a source.
Gilliam, the former FBI agent, said the details that have emerged of Kohberger’s life led him to believe that the suspected killer had developed a fixation on dominating others that evolved over time.
After struggling with weight issues, Kohberger reportedly became an extremely strict vegan, to the point that he insisted his family toss out any pots that had previously been used to cook meat.
A high school classmate, Thomas Arntz, described Kohberger as a ‘bully’ who would happily note his friends’ ‘flaws and insecurities’ in order to distract from his own weight struggles.
‘He did that to me all the time,’ Thomas told The Daily Beast. ‘He would go after my intelligence. He would basically insinuate that I’m kind of slow-witted and that I’m forgetful and that I lack the intelligence to be his friend.’
At the time of the murders, Kohberger was in the first semester of his PhD program at Washington State,
Thomas finally cut off the friendship after the continuous bullying. He noted that Kohberger’s father, a maintenance worker, and mother, a substitute teacher, were ‘genuinely kind people.’
‘I have a feeling there was something wrong when he was young,’ said Gilliam, the former FBI agent.
‘He was a heavy set kid, and then he was a bully, and turned himself into an extreme vegan and a very dominant personality,’ he said. ‘You do start to see a gradual increase in violent behavior and particularly dominance over other people.’
SWAT teams descended on sleepy Poconos mountain town to catch Libertarian Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger who was ‘obsessively vegan’ as a teen and ‘looked drugged at school’
By Jennifer Smith, Chief Reporter For Dailymail.Com and Andrea Cavallier For Dailymail.Com
SWAT teams descended on a sleepy residential community in Pennsylvania in the early hours of Friday morning where they arrested Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger more than a month after four university students were slain in their beds.
Kohberger, 28, was taken into custody by the Pennsylvania State Police at a home in Albrightsville, a small town in the heart of the Poconos Mountains more than 2,000 miles from where the gruesome killings took place on November 13.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said investigators believe Kohberger broke into the students’ home ‘with the intent to commit murder.’
Kohberger has a masters in criminal studies and was onto his PhD. He was studying 15 minutes away from where the murders took place
He was taken into custody in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, a small town in the heart of the Poconos Mountains more than 2,000 miles from where the gruesome killings took place
Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, and Xana Kernodle, 20, were stabbed to death along with Xana’s freshman boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20, in Moscow, Idaho last month.
Police say DNA evidence links Kohberger to the scene. Kohberger was a PhD student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, which is a short drive across the state line from the University of Idaho.
Friday’s arrest is the first major break in the case – with Kohberger asking if ‘anyone else was arrested’ when he was taken into custody. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Kohberger is a registered Libertarian, although does not appear to have had any active social media profiles at the time of his arrest.
A relative told The New York Post Kohberger is ‘OCD’ about his eating habits and forced his family to buy new pots that had never been used to cook meat.
‘It was above and beyond being vegan. His aunt and uncle had to buy new pots and pans because he would not eat from anything that had ever had meat cooked in them. He seemed very OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)’ the woman said.
Flowers and yellow police tape outside the Moscow, ID property where four University Students were murdered
The crime took place six weeks ago, 2,500 miles from where Kohberger was arrested
During a press conference on Friday authorities confirmed that a white Hyundai Elantra was discovered in the search – with sources saying it was towed from outside Kohberger’s home.
Law enforcement sources told CNN that his DNA was discovered at the scene of the crime – with officers managing to track down who owned the car seen in the area of the slayings.
However, Kohberger has no prior arrests, according to public records, so it is unclear how officials got hold of his DNA.
Authorities then discovered that he had left the area and traveled to Pennsylvania, where an FBI surveillance team had been tracking the 6ft tall man.
He was kept under surveillance, with the FBI watching him for four days, while investigators from Moscow Police and Idaho State Police worked to get an arrest warrant.
Authorities are still appealing for anyone with information on Kohberger or the quadruple murders to get in touch.
Moscow Chief of Police James Fry refused to rule out that the killer had an accomplice, adding: ‘We have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes.’
Details of the killings, and the motive for them, are yet to be released with law enforcement saying a sealed arrest affidavit will be released once Kohberger is extradited back to Idaho.
He is currently in custody at Monroe County Jail in Pennsylvania until a hearing on January 3.
There is no set time scale for how long his extradition from Pennsylvania to Idaho might take. If Kohberger doesn’t contest it, it’ll happen relatively quickly.