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Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves’ father vows to face accused killer Bryan Kohberger in court

Bryan Kohberger is scheduled to appear in Monroe County Courthouse in Pennsylvania at 3.30pm ET on Tuesday for his extradition hearing

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 03 January 2023 15:25 GMT
Idaho: Police arrest man for murder of four university students

The grieving father of Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves has vowed to face his daughter’s alleged killer Bryan Kohberger in court, as the criminology PhD student is set to appear for his extradition hearing.

Steve Goncalves told NBC News that he wants Mr Kohberger to be “sick of seeing us” as he spoke of his determination to win “a battle of wills” against the man accused of stabbing his daughter to death in her bed.

“I want him to be sick of seeing us and sick of knowing that these people won’t let it go,” he said on Monday.

“You know, it’s a battle of wills, and we’ll see who wins.”

Mr Kohberger is scheduled to appear in Monroe County Courthouse in Pennsylvania at 3.30pm ET on Tuesday for his extradition hearing.

Jason LaBar, the public defender representing him, said that the 28-year-old plans to waive his extradition rights as he is “eager to be exonerated” of the murder charges.

“Mr Kohberger is eager to be exonerated of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as promptly as possible,” he said in a statement.

Once he waives his extradition rights, Mr Kohberger can be transported from Pennsylvania to Idaho to faces charges in the murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.

When he returns to Idaho, officials plan to unseal the probable cause affidavit – potentially revealing what information ultimately led investigators to the suspect.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry has said he is confident that they have the sole killer of the four students but officials have so far stayed tight-lipped about what evidence they have linking him to the killings.

Two law enforcement sources told CNN that the net closed in on Mr Kohberger when the white Hyundai Elantra seen near the crime scene at the time of the killings was traced back to him.

His DNA was then also matched through genetic geneology techniques to DNA found at the crime scene, the sources said.

No motive has been given for the brutal stabbings and it is unclear what connection – if any – he may have to the four victims.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, is charged with the murders of four University of Idaho students (Monroe County Correctional Facility)

Mr Goncalves’ attorney Shannon Gray told NBC that the family had never heard of the suspect before learning of his arrest but that they had since discovered “connections” between the accused killer and his daughter.

The grieving father is not yet ready to reveal what those connections are, he said.

Mr Kohberger plans to fight the accusations against him and his family have vowed to stand by him.

In a statement released on Sunday, his parents broke their silence, saying that they “care deeply” for the victims and their families but will continue to support their son and brother as the legal process moves forward.

“First and foremost we care deeply for the four families who have lost their precious children. There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray each day for them,” the family said in a statement.

“We will continue to let the legal process unfold and as a family we will love and support our son and brother.

“We have fully cooperated with law enforcement agencies in an attempt to seek the truth and promote his presumption of innocence rather than judge unknown facts and make erroneous assumptions. We respect privacy in this matter as our family and the families suffering loss can move forward through the legal process.”

On Friday, police swooped in on the Kohberger family home in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, and arrested him for the 13 November murders in Moscow.

As a criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University – just across the Idaho-Washington border from Moscow – Mr Kohberger lives just 15 minutes from the King Road home where the murders took place.

In the aftermath of the murders, he had stayed in Pullman, Washington, and continued with his studies for several weeks before setting off on the 2,500-mile drive to his home state Pennsylvania sometime in December so that he could spend the holidays with his family.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, took this photo together hours before they died (Instagram/Kaylee Goncalves)

However, his public defender has now revealed that Mr Kohberger did not make the journey alone.

Jason LaBar told CNN that Mr Kohberger’s father had travelled to Washington state to meet his son before Christmas – weeks after the violent quadruple homicide – so that they could make the cross-country drive home together.

The father and son travelled in the suspect’s white Hyundai Elantra – the vehicle that has been at the centre of the murder investigation for several weeks.

They were pulled over by police twice as they passed through Indiana, Mr LaBar told KTVB. Mr LaBar said he wasn’t sure if the stops resulted in citations but said one was for speeding and the other was for following a car ahead too closely.

Sometime during the journey east, investigators began tracking Mr Kohberger’s movements across the US.

“Sometime right before Christmas we were zeroing in on him being in or going to Pennsylvania,” a law enforcement source told CNN.

Two separate witnesses also recalled seeing the two men at an auto repair shop in Pennsylvania on 16 December when the pair stopped off to get the Hyundai Elantra serviced.

One individual, who did not want to be identified, told CNN that they had a friendly conversation with both Mr Kohberger and his father at the business.

During that encounter, the suspect appeared “a little awkward” but did not appear suspicious, they said, adding that he had spoken of his ambitions to work in behavioural criminal justice and become a professor.

Mr LaBar said that the father and son then arrived at their family home in the Pocono Mountains around 17 December.

An FBI team kept Mr Kohberger under surveillance in the area for several days before his arrest on Friday (30 December).

The white Elantra driven by Mr Kohberger was seized from his parents’ home at the time of his arrest.

Investigators had been searching since early December for the occupant of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra which has been spotted in the “immediate area” of the crime scene at the time of the murders.

The vehicle had been captured on surveillance footage near the King Road home at around 3am or 4am on 13 November.

Mr Kohberger moved to Washington to begin the criminology graduate program at Washington State University in August and had just completed his first semester.

Before this, he studied criminology at DeSales University – first as an undergraduate and then finishing his graduate studies in June 2022.

While there, he studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-wrote the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with him.

He also carried out a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime”.

He reached out for participants on Reddit, with the chilling survey resurfacing in the wake of his arrest.

“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,” the post said.

His arrest marked a huge break in the seven-week-long investigation into the murders which rocked the small college town back on 13 November.

The four victims were stabbed to death in their beds with a fixed-blade knife at around 3am or 4am that morning.

Two of the victims were found on the second floor and two on the third floor of the three-storey student rental – a stone’s throw from the University of Idaho campus.

Two surviving roommates slept through the attack in bedrooms on the first floor.

The students’ bodies were discovered at around midday.

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