University of Idaho victim’s father wants to face the suspect

University of Idaho victim's father wants to face the suspect

MOSCOW, Idaho — The father of one of four slain University of Idaho students vowed Monday that when the Pennsylvania man accused of the killings finally appears in their courthouse, he and the other parents will be there to stare him down.

“I want him to be sick of seeing us and sick of knowing that these people won’t let it go,” Steve Goncalves said in an interview with NBC News. “You know, it’s a battle of wills and we’ll see who wins.”

Goncalves, whose 21-year-old daughter, Kaylee Goncalves, was one of the victims, spoke out as investigators were preparing to extradite quadruple-murder suspect Bryan Christopher Kohberger back to Idaho from Pennsylvania, where he was arrested on Friday.

The grieving dad said he’d never heard of Kohberger, a 28-year-old doctoral student at nearby Washington State University, before he was taken into custody in his home state on Friday.

Steve Goncalves, father of Kaylee Goncalves, speaks with NBC News.NBC News

Asked about any connections Kohberger might have had with the victims, Goncalves’ lawyer Shannon Gray said “we’re gathering as much information as we can that might help out the investigation.”

“There is a lot of evidence that is yet to be discovered,” Goncalves said.

Kohberger, who is working on a Ph.D. in criminal justice and criminology, was arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police seven weeks after the four students were stabbed to death in their beds on Nov. 13.

In addition to Kaylee Goncalves of Rathdrum, Idaho, the three other students killed in the attack were Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona.

So far, no motive for the massacre has been disclosed. But Kohberger’s counsel, Jason A. LaBar, the chief public defender of Monroe County, Pennsylvania, has released a statement of condolence on behalf of Kohberger’s parents, Michael and Marianne Kohberger, and his sisters, Amanda and Melissa.

The Kohberger family said it is cooperating with investigators but standing by the suspect as well.

“Let the legal process unfold and as a family we will love and support our son and brother,” the statement read in part.

Kohberger will be formally charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary for allegedly breaking into the Moscow home, when he is returned to Idaho this week. The extradition hearing is Tuesday, and his public defender said he would most likely be moved back to Idaho on Tuesday evening.

Two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation have said DNA evidence played a key role in linking the murders to Kohberger. But the probable cause affidavit with details supporting Kohberger’s arrest will remain under seal until he lands in Idaho and is served with the papers in court, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear who would be representing Kohberger in Idaho. LaBar is just handling his extradition hearing.

Three of the victims — Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle — were roommates at the home where they died, police have said. Chapin, who was Kernodle’s boyfriend, was staying the night.

Two other roommates who were home at the time were asleep during the stabbings, detectives have said. One of their cellphones was used to call 911 when they woke up in the morning.

The massacre in the tiny college town made national news and resulted in some 19,000 tips from the public that police said were crucial to tracking Kohberger down.

But the Moscow Police Department’s reluctance to release information in the early stages of the investigation created an information vacuum and generated public anxiety and fear.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry told NBC News later that he regretted not being more transparent.

“I took the responsibility at the very beginning for not getting out into the press and talking about it,” Fry said during a sometimes-emotional New Years Eve interview. “That would be a thing I would change in the future. It’s a learned lesson.”

After Kohberger’s arrest was announced, Kernodle’s mother, Cara Northington, said Friday that great weight had been lifted and that she did not know the suspect.

“A lot of the grief was not knowing who this was, knowing to whoever was responsible for that is still out there,” she said. “So yeah, this definitely takes a lot of the grief that we were experiencing off our shoulders.”

But Kohberger remains an enigma to much of the public. In addition to being a doctoral student, he was known to make “creepy” and inappropriate comments to female employees and customers at a Pennsylvania brewery, the business owner told NBC News on Saturday.

Goncalves said the arrest of Kohberger is the start of the “second chapter” of what’s already been a painful saga for his family and that of the other victims’ families.

“We’re moving on to making sure that we have the right person and we all get focused on understanding what we’re about to go through,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that that everything will fall into place and they’ve got a strong case against this guy and we’ll get a conviction in the future,” Gray, the lawyer, added.

Gadi Schwartz and Deon J. Hampton reported from Moscow, Idaho, Minyvonne Burke reported from Monroe County, Pennsylvania, and Corky Siemaszko reported from New York City.

 

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