A suspect in the brutal murders of four University of Idaho students, in crimes that have “shocked our community,” has been arrested in Pennsylvania, authorities said Friday.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger, a 28-year-old resident of Pullman, Washington, was arrested in Albrightville in northeastern Pennsylvaniathe officials said.
He will be charged with four counts of first-degree murder and robbery for allegedly breaking into a Moscow, Idaho, home with the intent to commit a felony, authorities said.
“These murders have shaken our community and no arrest will bring these young students back,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry told reporters in Idaho.
“However, we believe that justice will be found through the criminal process.”
Kohberger is due back in court in Pennsylvania on Tuesday when he will choose to fight or waive extradition to Idaho, Latah County Attorney Bill Thompson said.
The prosecutor said investigators still need more information and pleaded with Idahoans to come forward with everything they know about Kohberger.
“This is not the end of this investigation,” Thompson said. “Indeed, this is a new beginning.”
Police and prosecutors released few details about the arrest Friday, such as a possible motive and what leads or evidence first led detectives to Kohberger.
But Fry seemed to say that Kohberger is the only suspect in this case.
“What I can tell you is that we have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes and I believe our community is safe,” he said.
A Hyundai Elantra was taken from the person’s Pennsylvania home on Friday, law enforcement sources said. Moscow police had been looking for a white Hyundai Elantra as possible evidence.
Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash.; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Ariz.; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, were killed on November 13.
Three of the victims shared the house in which they were murdered: Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle, while Kernodle’s boyfriend, Chapin, stayed the night, according to investigators.
The mother of one of the four students told NBC News on Friday that a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders with the arrest of a suspect.
Cara Northington, the mother of Xana Kernodle, said she found out about an arrest after waking up and talking to a friend. All she has been able to think about is who she would have killed her daughter and her friends while she was hoping there would be a break in the case.
“It has been a nightmare. This whole thing has been a nightmare, literally,” Northington said. “But I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
She added that she is not familiar with the person who was arrested Friday in Pennsylvania, but is relieved that he has been detained.
“A lot of the pain was not knowing who it was, knowing that whoever was responsible for it is still out there,” he said. “So yeah, this definitely takes away a lot of the pain that we were experiencing.”
Northington said she is also grateful for the support from strangers across the country and from law enforcement. Authorities believe they were killed inside the apartment building in their sleep, though some had defensive wounds.
Police were also still looking for the weapon, believed to be a large knife, Frey said Friday.
Two other roommates were home at the time of the killings in the early hours of November 13, but police said they are not believed to have been involved in the crime.
They were asleep during the stabbings, and one of their cell phones was used to call 911 when they woke up later that morning, detectives said.
The investigation was led by Moscow police, with dozens of state and federal agents providing forensic analysis of a scene experts say was complicated by the nature of the crime, a quadruple homicide, and the fact that the co-workers fourth year they would organize parties.
As weeks passed without a person of interest being arrested or named, the case caught the attention of internet detectives, prompting police to dispel unsubstantiated claims on social media.
Chief Fry insisted that the case was not open.
He also declined to speak in detail about the case or investigators’ best leads, telling NBC News last week that police must protect the integrity of the investigation and also don’t want to contaminate a potential jury pool if there is a trial. .
“I know that’s very frustrating,” Fry said. “It is frustrating for family members and [the] community, but our ultimate goal is to bring someone to justice for those families and those victims.”
Initially, the case was dogged by mixed messages from authorities, who first told the public that the “targeted attack” did not pose a persistent threat to the community. But Fry, days later, said that he couldn’t tell where the killer or killers might be.
An arrest comes as a “celebration of life” was planned later Friday for two of the roommates, Goncalves and Mogen.
Shanon Gray, an attorney for the Goncalves’ loved ones, said of her clients: “The family is relieved that authorities have someone in custody and now the journey through the criminal justice system begins.”