Idaho Killings Suspect Was Pulled Over Twice While Driving Across Country
MOSCOW, Idaho — Two weeks before the man accused of killing four University of Idaho college students was arrested, the police in Indiana pulled him over twice in a 10-minute stretch for tailgating as he drove across the country with his father, according to new body camera footage released on Wednesday.
In both instances, the suspect’s father mentioned a fatal police standoff that took place that morning near Washington State University, where his son was a student, and told the officer that he and his son had been discussing the “horrifying” incident.
The police shooting they were discussing does not appear to have any connection to the four fatal stabbings that occurred about a month earlier in Idaho, just across the border from the W.S.U. campus, for which the son, Bryan Kohberger, is now charged with four counts of murder.
Mr. Kohberger, 28, was the driver of the car during both stops, and the new footage is the most that the public has seen of him since he became the subject of intense scrutiny after his arrest. On Wednesday, Mr. Kohberger was being taken by the police from Pennsylvania, where he was visiting his parents after the road trip, to Idaho, where he stands accused of stabbing four students to death overnight in their home on Nov. 13.
Mr. Kohberger’s father, Michael Kohberger, visited him in December and they drove across the country from the W.S.U. campus in Pullman, Wash., to their home in Eastern Pennsylvania for the holidays. During that trip, they were pulled over twice on Dec. 15 for tailgating; in both traffic stops, the officers let the men off with a warning.
There is no indication that the police in Indiana had any idea that Mr. Kohberger would be arrested for the murders, nor that they were aware of the police in Moscow, Idaho, saying that a white Hyundai Elantra — like the one the two men were driving — had been seen near the crime scene on the night of the murders.
During the first stop, at about 10:42 a.m., a deputy with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office pulled Mr. Kohberger and his father over along Interstate 70, just east of Indianapolis. The body camera footage released on Wednesday captured the deputy asking where the two were headed. In response, Mr. Kohberger’s father told him that they were coming from Washington and began talking about the police standoff that was unfolding near the Washington State campus that day.
Mr. Kohberger’s father told the officer that there had been a “mass shooting.” He was corrected by his son, who said, “We don’t know if it was a mass shooting,” and referred to a SWAT team being called for the standoff. “It’s horrifying,” Mr. Kohberger’s father said in the video. That incident involved a man who the police later said had barricaded himself in an apartment and threatened to kill his roommates before a police officer shot him to death.
At another point in the video, the father said, “We’re slightly punchy because we’ve been driving for hours.”
After about three minutes, the deputy said, “Do me a favor and don’t follow too close, OK?” and then returned Mr. Kohberger’s driver’s license and let them go.
Just five minutes later, Mr. Kohberger and his father were pulled over again, this time by an Indiana state trooper who also said that they were tailgating. The audio from the trooper’s body camera is obscured by traffic noise, but Mr. Kohberger and his father could be heard telling the officer that they were just stopped minutes earlier. Again, the father brought up the incident that morning at Washington State. The trooper wished them a safe trip and let them go with a warning.
It was two weeks later, on Dec. 30, that the police in Pennsylvania carried out a pre-dawn raid of Mr. Kohberger’s parents’ home, arresting Mr. Kohberger on suspicion of carrying out the Idaho killings. They also searched his car and executed a warrant to obtain his DNA, officials said. Mr. Kohberger has said through a public defender that he looks forward to being exonerated.
Mr. Kohberger had just completed his first semester as a Ph.D. student in criminology at Washington State University, which is about a 15-minute drive from the crime scene in Moscow, and had shown an interest in the psychology of criminals, as well as forensics.
The murders of the four University of Idaho student victims — Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 — and the arrest of Mr. Kohberger have rattled the neighboring college towns of Moscow and Pullman.
The stabbing took place in the early morning hours at a home along a dead-end street a five-minute walk from campus. The police have said that the victims were most likely asleep when they were attacked, and two more roommates were in the home but apparently slept through the killings.
Friends and relatives of the victims are searching for any connection between the victims and Mr. Kohberger, but so far none has been disclosed.
The police have said that the surviving roommates only realized something was wrong late in the morning and believed only that one of their roommates had passed out. They called friends to the home and then someone called 911, after which police officers discovered the grisly scene.