The Idaho murder case has much of the world reeling after four University of Idaho students were brutally murdered in their off-campus rental home. 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger is the prime suspect and is being held without bail while he awaits the June 26 preliminary hearing. Despite the fact that Kohberger was a PhD student in criminology at the University of Washington, experts are saying that a string of amateur mistakes ultimately led to his arrest.
Experts Think Bryan Kohberger’s Criminology Education Did Not Make Him Want to Commit Any Crimes
KING 5 News spoke with Dr. Casey Jordan, a criminologist and attorney, to delve further into what connections there may have been between Kohberger’s alleged crime and his education.
“As a criminologist, believe me, I was really shocked but not really surprised to find out that the accused was doing a PhD in criminology,” said Dr. Casey. “I can guarantee you that nothing he learned in his classes helped him — if indeed he did factually commit these crimes — to commit these crimes or to try to get away with it.”
Former FBI agent Pete Yachmetz spoke with the New York Post and gave his perspective on Kohberger’s methods.
“[Kohberger] is not the great mastermind he may have thought he was,” Yachmetz told the Post. Yachmetz analyzed the affidavit and pointed out a string of mistakes that he believed ultimately led to Kohberger’s arrest.
Former FBI Agent Says Bryan Kohberger Left Behind a Clear Digital Footprint
To start, Kohberger’s cell phone records showed that he visited the scene of the crime at least a dozen times prior to the November 13 murders. “He was obviously surveilling [the victims],” said Yachmetz. He added that it looked “pretty premeditated” and that the prior visits may have been a form of “casing.” That is when a criminal analyzes the location to figure out entry and escape routes and other details.
Next, the arrest records state that the killer left behind a “tan leather knife sheath.” Yachmetz told the Post that it may have been left behind in a moment of panic.
“He made an amateur mistake,” said Yachmetz, adding that he may have “had to use the knife sooner than he thought he would need to.” Or he may have “been in a state of arousal of some type” that diverted his attention.
DNA Would Be Left Everywhere Due to the Gruesome Nature of the Killings
Next, Yachmetz brought up DNA. Investigators linked DNA from the crime scene to Kohberger’s DNA in the trash at his family’s Pennsylvania home.
“The way that these kids were killed, there is going to be DNA in other locations,” said Yachmetz.
Circling back to the digital footprint, cell phone records show that Bryan Kohberger turned his phone off during the time of the murder. But it was on just before and after. His phone was turned off at 2:47 am and turned back on at 4:48 am. The murders are thought to have taken place between 4 am and 4:30 am. Records also show that Kohberger’s phone was pinged south of Moscow, Idaho at 5 am and near his apartment in Pullman at 5:30 am.
“Agents are going to scrutinize his cellphone records and evaluate how many times previous to the time of the murders he turned off his cellphone,” said Yachmetz. “Was [he] always turning off his cellphone? Or was this one of only one or two other times that he turned off his cellphone?”
He May Have Returned to the Scene of the Crime Within Hours
The digital footprint is going to play a big part in prosecutors’ case against Bryan Kohberger. His phone records showed him again leaving his Pullman apartment at 9 am. He returned to the King House between 9:12 am and 9:21 am that same morning. Yachmetz hypothesized that Kohberger may have gone back to retrieve his knife sheath. Or, as some authorities think, he may have wanted to go back to see that aftermath as a form of gratification.
Kohberger’s white Hyundai Elantra also matched the description of a witness. The witness spotted a man in a car leaving the King House around the time of the murder. Bryan Kohberger used that same car to drive across the country with his father. He was stopped twice on the way to the east coast, which Yachmetz believes may have been “pretext car stops.” However, if they were, the FBI denies any part in it.
Lastly, Jennifer Coffindaffer, a retired FBI agent, tweeted about a Facebook user she’d noticed shortly after the murders took place. A user who went by Pappa Rodger was commenting regularly up until Kohberger was arrested.
Specifically, Coffindaffer said one specific comment by Pappa Rodger stood out to her. It said, “Of the evidence released, the murder weapon has been consistent as a large fixed-blade knife. This leads me to believe they found the sheath.”
It seems that Dr. Casey Jordan is correct here. If Bryan Kohberger did indeed factually commit these murders, his education certainly didn’t make him any smoother at hiding the crime.
If Kohberger is found guilty, he may face life in prison or the death penalty.