STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Bryan Christopher Kohberger, the suspect in the brutal slayings of four University of Idaho students in November, waived extradition Tuesday during a court hearing in Pennsylvania, paving the way for him to face murder charges in Idaho.
Kohberger, 28, arrived at a Monroe County court wearing a red jumpsuit and was escorted by officers out of a county sheriff’s van. Kohberger did not respond to questions shouted at him.
While in court Tuesday afternoon, Kohberger said he understood what it meant to waive extradition. He also said he does not have mental health challenges. During the brief hearing, a member of Kohberger’s family appeared to be crying. A sheriff’s deputy walked up and handed her a tissue.
Police arrested him in Albrightsville in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 2,500 miles from the campus, officials said Friday.
Kohberger, who was a doctoral student in the criminal justice and criminology department at Washington State University, 9 miles from Moscow, Idaho, 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.
Authorities said he will be charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary when he is returned to Idaho this week.
The four students — Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho — were killed Nov. 13.
Several crucial pieces of information, including a possible motive, Kohberger’s potential relationship with any of the victims or any evidence that led police to track him down, have not been released publicly.
Two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation have said DNA evidence played a key role in linking the slayings to him.
A Hyundai Elantra was taken away from Kohberger’s home in Pennsylvania on Friday, law enforcement sources said. Moscow police had been looking for a white Hyundai Elantra as a possible piece of evidence.
In a statement Sunday, his family members said they are cooperating with law enforcement to “promote his presumption of innocence.”
His counsel, Jason A. LaBar, the chief public defender of Monroe County, released the statement on behalf of Kohberger’s parents, Michael and Marianne Kohberger, and his sisters, Amanda and Melissa.
The Kohbergers pledged 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,” the statement continued.
LaBar said in an interview Saturday that his client is “eager to be exonerated.”
LaBar, who is representing the suspect in the extradition but not the murder case, said Kohberger was “very aware, but calm, and really shocked by his arrest” when the two spoke for about an hour Friday.
A probable cause affidavit, with details supporting Kohberger’s arrest, is under seal until he sets foot in Idaho and is served with the papers in court, authorities said.
Investigators have said they still need the public’s help to “understand fully everything there is to know not only about the individual, but what happened and why,” according to Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson.
Three of the victims — Goncalves, Mogen and Kernodle — were roommates at the home in which they were killed, while Chapin, Kernodle’s boyfriend, was staying the night, investigators said.
Two other roommates who were home at the time were asleep during the stabbings, and one of their cellphones was used to call 911 when they woke up later that morning, detectives said.
The slayings generated headlines nationwide and about 19,000 tips from the public that police said were crucial to the probe.
Families of the victims say they are hopeful that Kohberger’s arrest will bring justice.
Kernodle’s mother, Cara Northington, said Friday that the arrest lifted “a huge weight” off her shoulders, adding that she does not know Kohberger.
“A lot of the grief was not knowing who this was, knowing that 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.”
Goncalves’ father, Steve Goncalves, on Monday called the arrest the start of the “second chapter” of what has already been a painful saga for his family and the families of the other victims.
“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.
Minyvonne Burke reported from Stroudsburg, and Antonio Planas reported from New York City.