On Nov. 13, 2022, four Moscow, Idaho, college students were found stabbed to death at an off-campus home. The victims were identified as Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.
On Dec. 30, 2022, Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested at his parents’ Pennsylvania home after being identified as the main suspect in the murders. He was extradited to Idaho and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and felony burglary. He made his first court appearance on Jan. 5 in a Latah County, Idaho, courtroom and was denied bail.
After he was arrested, Reddit posts purportedly penned by Kohberger were shared online. The posts claim Kohberger posted an online survey asking for people to participate in a study describing what they felt while committing crime.
The posts were shared with the title “Research participation needed” and were posted to subreddits, which are individual Reddit groups, including r/ExCons and r/Prisons. They were posted seven months ago.
VERIFY looked into the Reddit posts to see if Kohberger was actually the author.
Did Bryan Kohberger post on Reddit asking for help researching why people commit crimes?
Yes, Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger did post on Reddit asking for help researching why people commit crimes.
WHAT WE FOUND
VERIFY was able to confirm Kohberger was the author of the Reddit posts by analyzing the posts themselves and through court documents that were recently unsealed.
Moscow (Idaho) Police Corporal Brett Payne identified Kohberger as the author in an affidavit released by the Latah County District Court. The affidavit, which was unsealed on Jan. 5, outlines what evidence led police to identify Kohberger as the suspect in the killings.
Payne wrote in the affidavit that the Reddit posts were found online through “an open-source internet search.” The posts include a survey asking for participants to provide information to “understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision making when committing a crime."
The text used in the affidavit matches the text that appears in the Reddit posts Kohberger, using the name @Criminology_Student, shared online.
“My name is Bryan, and I am inviting you to participate in a research project that seeks to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime,” the Reddit post says.
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“In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience. In the event that your most recent offense was not one that led to a conviction, you may still participate,” it said.
The Reddit post included a survey that asked questions including:
- “How did you travel to and enter the location that the crime occurred?”
- “Did you prepare for the crime before leaving your home? Please detail what you were thinking and feeling at this point.”
- Before making your move, how did you approach the victim or target? Please detail what you were thinking and feeling.”
A VERIFY analysis of internet archives also confirms Kohberger authored the posts.
Kohberger posted to several Reddit groups while he was a criminology student at DeSales University, a private Catholic university in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.
On Reddit, Kohberger identified himself as the student investigator on the research project and included a DeSales University email address.
DeSales University confirmed Kohberger was a student at the school in a statement released on Dec. 30.
While at DeSales, Kohberger received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed his graduate studies in 2022, the statement said.
VERIFY found Kohberger’s name was recently removed from some pages on DeSales’ website – including from a 2020 Dean’s List page.
The current 2020 Dean’s List is here, without Kohberger’s name. An archive of the page captured on the Wayback Machine in September 2021 does contain Kohberger’s name.
In 2020, DeSales University posted a virtual commencement that shows the names of the entire graduating class. At 1 hour and 40 minutes into the YouTube video, Kohberger’s name and photo appears, further confirming he was a student there.
VERIFY reached out to DeSales University, and the researchers identified as being on the project with Kohberger, and did not hear back at the time of publication.