PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Authorities in at least two Pennsylvania counties where Bryan Kohberger attended college have searched their cold case files, looking for links that could connect those cases to the suspect in the Idaho college murders.
“Your natural question is to start wondering, 'is this guy wanted?'" said Northampton County District Attorney Terence Houck, who ordered his staff to research whether Kohberger could have ties to any unsolved cases in his jurisdiction. "Is his name out there? Did he do anything here in (my) county?"
Authorities have previously said that the 28-year-old Kohberger has no prior criminal record.
However, since Kohberger was a student at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania authorities took a deeper dive into records. He may have also attended classes at a satellite campus in Monroe County. Using a crime information center, authorities in Northampton County searched records of unsolved cases using Kohberger’s height, weight, method of operation and other characteristics that could have flagged him in an unsolved crime.
Houck said authorities did not find any evidence linking Kohberger to unsolved cases.
“In fact, nothing with respect to Kohberger has come about in our investigations of cold cases or unsolved cases to this point, but we always continue to investigate and pursue leads,” Houck said.
In neighboring Lehigh County, where Kohberger spent four years studying criminology on the campus of DeSales University, District Attorney Jim Martin asked the same questions.
After Kohberger’s arrest on Dec. 30, Martin said, “The first thing I did was ask the director of the RIC (Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center) to see if we had any contact with Mr. Kohberger.”
That database includes six million police reports and related data. It showed only one contact with Kohberger: a 911 call in which his car was locked behind a parked gate on a bike trail.
“And there was a response from him thanking the police and apologizing for the inconvenience,” Martin said.
Martin said the probe by his office has not found links to Kohberger and any unsolved crimes.
“We have no unsolved homicides that in any way meet the modus operandi of this event out in Idaho," Martin said.
Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine, Jr. did not respond to messages or a recent visit from a KING 5 News crew. Bryan Kohberger lived with his parents in Monroe County for a number of years and it is the jurisdiction in which Kohberger was arrested by a SWAT team in December.
Kohberger faces four first-degree murder charges in Idaho in the deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20 and Ethan Chapin, 20. Investigators said in court documents that Kohberger broke into a house in Moscow, Idaho on Nov. 13 where all four were staying. They allege he stabbed them with a knife. The documents do not reveal a motive or any connection between Kohberger and the victims.
Growing up with Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger
“I hope he didn’t do it," Jack Baylis told a KING 5 News crew that recently visited his home in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. "I’m a big believer in innocent until proven guilty."
Baylis met Kohberger in the eighth grade when both boys lived on the outskirts of the Poconos Mountains.
Baylis said Kohberger was a “normal” kid until he started doing drugs with another friend around age 16.
“It was definitely heroin and it was pretty gnarly,” Baylis said of Kohberger’s addiction.
When the pair reconnected years later, Kohberger was clean and attending nearby DeSales University as a criminology student.
“He's always been kind of fascinated with kind of how the how the brain works and how people think and why they do what they do,” Baylis said. “I want to say he wanted to be a cop since he was younger.”
'A very intense stare' from Kohberger
At DeSales, one classmate thought Kohberger also seemed like a normal student – at first.
TV and film student Vernard James was assigned to a biology class project in 2018 with Kohberger as the team leader.
“We're approaching the due date and I was feeling like I was left out to dry,” James said.
James said Kohberger completed the project without including him, resulting in a failing grade for James. He confronted Kohberger in the DeSales University library.
“A very intense stare," James said. "I remember that. I'll never forget that looking right into my soul almost, you know, as we were having this back and forth."
James said Kohberger was dismissive of his complaint and accepted no responsibility as the project leader.
“(He was) manipulative," James said. "Cold."
After Kohberger’s arrest, James wonders if he witnessed something more than just an odd personality trait.
“It’s not every day you expect to come into contact with someone who's accused of something like that, you know?" James said. "But I see it in some ways, you know, I see the calculated side of him."
KING 5’s news crew was unable to contact Kohberger’s parents in Pennsylvania.
Chief Public Defender of Monroe County, Jason LeBar, told KING 5 he could not offer further comments about the case. Lebar represented Kohberger in extradition proceedings in Pennsylvania.
He has previously said that Kohberger believes he will be exonerated in Idaho.