University of Idaho undergrad Dylan Mortensen said she first woke up around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13 to what she assumed was the sound of her roommate, Kaylee Goncalves, playing with her dog upstairs.
A short time later, Mortensen thought she heard her 21-year-old friend say, “There’s someone here.” But when Mortensen looked out of her bedroom, she didn’t see a thing. She peeked outside her bedroom door a second time when she heard crying coming from the bedroom of her other roommate, Xana Kernodle.
“It’s OK, I’m going to help you,” Mortensen told authorities she heard a male voice say.
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The third time Mortensen opened her bedroom door to a far more terrifying sight: “a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking toward her.” But the masked man just walked past her and left the home through the back sliding-glass door as she stood there in “frozen shock.”
Hours later, Mortensen would learn that three of her roommates—and one of their boyfriends—had been brutally murdered.
That’s according to a probable cause affidavit unsealed Thursday, which lays out previously unknown details about what happened in the Moscow, Idaho, rental home the night of the shocking murders that have since captured national attention.
Investigators “believe the homicides occurred between 4:00 a.m. and 4:25 a.m.,” the affidavit states.
One of the surviving roommates—it has not been revealed which it was—called 911 at 11:58 a.m., police revealed more than a week after the deadly scene unfolded. Cops said “multiple people” spoke to the dispatcher on that call, which is not mentioned in the affidavit, but was made from one of the roommates’ phones.
In the document, authorities lay out various details into the killings of four University of Idaho college students—Madison Mogen, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; and Kernodle and Goncalves. Last week, a team of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers arrested Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old first-year Ph.D. student in criminology at Washington State University, at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania.
He was extradited back to Idaho on Wednesday and is set to face 2nd District Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall today on four counts of murder in the first degree and a burglary charge.
Providing new details about the lengthy investigation that led to Kohberger’s arrest, investigators detail how authorities found the eerie scene, and eventually matched DNA from a knife sheath found in a bedroom to Kohberger himself.
Investigators obtained that DNA sample two days after Christmas, when cops “recovered the trash from the Kohberger family residence located in Albrightsville, PA,” and sent it to the Idaho State Lab for testing, the affidavit reveals.
Kohberger’s phone had pinged off cell towers near the home “on at least twelve occasions prior” to the killings, almost exclusively in the late evening and early-morning hours, the affidavit states.
The affidavit also provided additional details about Kohberger, including that he applied for an internship with the Pullman Police Department in 2022. In his application, Kohberger wrote an essay expressing his interest “in assisting rural law enforcement agencies with how to better collect and analyze technological data in public safety operations.”
The probable cause affidavit states that investigators entered the Moscow home on the bottom floor—before going upstairs to find Kernodle just outside her bedroom door. Authorities say that she had wounds that “appeared to have been caused by a edged weapon.”
Inside the room, authorities found Chapin, who sustained deadly “sharp-force injuries.” On the third floor, authorities found one bedroom with a dog, where both Goncalves and Mogen were “deceased with visible stab wounds.” Authorities later noticed a “tan leather knife sheath laying next to Mogen’s right side” bearing the U.S. Marine Corps insignia and crucial DNA evidence on the button snap.
Authorities also found a latent shoe print at the scene, which showed a “diamond-shaped pattern (similar to the pattern of a Vans type shoe sole) just outside” Mortensen’s door. Upon reviewing several surveillance cameras in the area, investigators were able to also determine that a white sedan was seen near the house around the time of the murders.
Eventually, authorities were able to connect the car to Kohberger—whose license photo revealed he had the same physical description, including his “bushy eyebrows,” that Mortensen detailed to police. The affidavit states that the license plates of the car had been switched shortly after the murders. Kohberger’s phone also pinged off cell towers near the murder house immediately before and after the killings, but not between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
While a motive is still unclear, Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD detective sergeant who now teaches at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, sees the fact that two of the six people inside the house were spared, as a possible key insight.
“Why didn’t he kill the eyewitnesses?” Giacalone said Thursday. “Was it ‘mission-complete’ [for Kohberger]? Maybe now we’re starting to see who the true target of his rage was.”
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