Suspect in University of Idaho murders was twice stopped by Indiana police
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The man arrested for the Nov. 13 slayings of four University of Idaho students, Bryan Kohberger, and his father on Dec. 15 came through Indiana on his way home to Pennsylvania, but police in Idaho had not yet issued an alert for him or the car he was driving.
So, the Indiana State Police and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department had no reason to do more than issue a traffic warning to Kohberger, the driver, after his car was stopped twice within minutes along I-70 east of Greenfield, Indiana.
Jason LaBar, an extradition lawyer in Pennsylvania, said about Kohberger, “My understanding is his father went out there, and they drove home together.”
A white Hyundai Elantra, similar to the one Kohberger owns had become central to the murders investigation.
LaBar told NBC News that the Kohbergers had been pulled over twice in Indiana: once for speeding, and the second time for following too close. LaBar didn’t say if tickets were written. The traffic stops appeared to be routine.
I-Team 8 was unable to find any Indiana court documents or traffic citation with Kohberger’s name.
Kohberger, a 28-year-old doctoral student and teaching assistant at Washington State University, and his father made the 2,500-mile, cross-country trip together and arrived in Pennsylvania on Dec. 17 or 18, LaBar said.
Kohberger was arrested Friday at his parents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania. He’s not expected to fight extradition to Idaho to face criminal charges, according to his public defender.
The students who were fatally stabbed were: Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington. They were close friends and members of the university’s Greek system.
Indiana State Police told I-Team 8 that Kohberger had not been pulled over by state police Trooper; however, state police said Tuesday in a news release that they were involved.
The release said a preliminary internal records check did not find state police had stopped Kohberger. But later, “as a result further examination,” state police found a trooper pulled him over for following too closely about 10:50 a.m. Dec. 15 in a white Hyundai Elantra on I-70 in Hancock County.
The state police news release said, “At the time of this stop, there was no information available on a suspect for the crime in Idaho, to include identifying information or any specific information related to the license plate state or number of the white Hyundai Elantra which was being reported in the media to have been seen in or around where the crime occurred.”
The state police news release added, “The Trooper, having learned the two had been stopped minutes before by a Deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, who he knew was working just down the interstate from him, used his discretion and released the two men with a verbal warning.”
Hancock County Sheriff’s Department also issued a news release Tuesday saying Kohberger was pulled over about 10:41 a.m. Dec. 15 on I-70 just east of a rest area for following too closely. The driver was released with a verbal warning, the Hancock County release says.
“At the time of the traffic stop, there was no information available on a suspect for the crimes in Idaho, to include identifying information or any specific information related to the license plate state or number of the white Hyundai Elantra which was being reported in the media to have been seen in an around where the crime occurred,” the Hancock County release added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
“The statement below originates from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and any inquiries therein should be directed to that agency.
Contrary to reports, the December 15th traffic stops conducted on the vehicle being driven by Bryan Kohberger in Indiana were not requested or directed by the FBI.“
News release issued Jan. 5, 2023, by Indiana State Police