Interview – The Impact of the University of Idaho Murders

Interview - The Impact of the University of Idaho Murders

Peyton Rohr, Staff Writer

The small unassuming town of Moscow, Idaho has been the subject of national news as of late. On November 13, 2022, 4 roommates from the University of Idaho were stabbed and murdered in their home from around 3 to 4 am. The roommates were two best friends, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, and couple Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle. They also lived with two other students who survived the homicide and called the police where they reported their unconscious roommates. The University of Idaho canceled classes and provided counseling resources and therapy dogs for all students the day after the homicide. 

Throughout the investigation, the families of the victims and the students were frustrated with the lack of information being shared, adding to the panic in the area. Even after the quadruple homicide, other suspicious events occurred, like the finding of a skinned Bernese Mountain Dog nearby in Idaho, and rumor of a suspicious man waiting for two girls in their car, which, according to Washington State student Madison Rohr, “made us feel like there was going to be more happening and it wasn’t just a targeted thing like the police kept saying. Those things just made me a lot more nervous.” 

The investigation seemed to be unsuccessful until they identified that they were looking for a white Hyundai Elantra, and on December 30th, the police arrested Washington State graduate student, Bryan Kohberger. Kohberger had arrived at his Pennsylvania home for the holiday break when police made the arrest, charging him with 4 counts of first-degree murder. The arrest was made in Pennsylvania, but Kohberger had to be extradited to Idaho in order to face charges. Kohberger was studying to receive his Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice, even studying the minds of criminals. Around 7 months ago, he even put out a Reddit post surveying criminals about the crimes they had committed. Phone records showed that Kohberger had used his phone near the residence of the homicide at least 12 times since June of 2022. Kohberger’s motive is still unclear, since a connection between him and the victims has not come out yet. 

With the arrest of a suspect, Washington State and University of Idaho students can rest a little easier coming back to campus for the second semester. Washington State has sent out weekly emails to its students describing their safety resources and have even increased campus and Pullman safety. Although they do feel safer, Madison Rohr stated, “I think once something like this happens, you just become more cautious in general so I think I’ll still be employing the measures that I did as a result when I get back, but I feel a lot better going back.” While the effects of this homicide will be felt in these tiny communities for weeks and months to come, the arrest of Kohberger marks a time of healing and a return to normalcy in both Pullman, Washington and Moscow, Idaho.


In order to understand exactly what students and people in the community were going through, I sat down with Washington State Junior, Madison Rohr:

Q: What was it like during the investigation not knowing what might happen next and questioning the safety of your small community?

A: It was definitely very nerve wracking, everyone was a lot more anxious about things you wouldn’t normally question or things that you would normally do on a regular basis and you would kind of think twice about it. There was a break-in next door to my house, and normally that would have just been a break-in, but because of not knowing who did it and not knowing who did the murders, we were all very vigilant and locked our doors. We all made sure we were locking everything. I locked my bedroom door at night. I would just say everyone was a lot more cautious than they would normally be. 

Q: There were other events, like the skinned dog, that occurred after the murders. How did that contribute to your feelings and sense of safety?

A:There was the skinned dog and then there was also a rumor about two girls walking to their car and someone was in their car waiting for them and they ran away and called the police. Between those two things, it made me feel like whoever did the murders was going to do more than just the ones they did. Not that that wasn’t a lot already, but it made us feel like there was going to be more happening and it wasn’t just a targeted thing like the police kept saying.. I would never walk home alone at night and if I did, I had pepper spray and I was on the phone with somebody, etc. Those things just made me a lot more nervous. I don’t think it really changed much about the things I did to ensure my safety, I think more it just changed the mental state and general heightened anxiety around everything. 

Q:Was it a shock when it was revealed that the suspect was a Washington State student?

A: For me it was. I never imagined, even though we’re so close together, only 15 minutes apart, I never imagined that it was a Washington State student. I didn’t think it was a student at all. I thought it was someone older.. I was just questioning everything about where I go to school, people I go to school with. 

Q: How does it feel knowing that there is a suspect in custody and are you going to feel safer when you return to campus for the second semester?

A: Yeah, definitely knowing that somebody is in jail and that it is most likely based on all the evidence of the person who did it, I feel a lot safer finally going back to campus. I think once something like this happens, you just become more cautious in general so I think I’ll still be employing the measures that I did as a result when I get back, but I feel a lot better going back. 

Q:Has safety on campus changed and how has your view of your own safety changed?

A:They’ve been sending a lot of emails. We get an email about every week with general safety tips and resources that we have available to us. They said they increased campus security and security around the area of Pullman as well. I haven’t really noticed a difference so I don’t know if that’s actually true or not, they did say they did it though. More than anything, it’s just like making us more aware of what already was available to us as resources. 

Q:Did you or anyone you know have any connections to Kohberger?

A: I knew a few people that had him as a TA for their classes which is really scary to think about. Right before Winter Break he sent an email basically saying “have a good break, hope everyone does well on their exams” so that’s really freaky. As far as me personally, I didn’t have any connections to him. I’m a delivery driver in Pullman and I had delivered to his apartment building many times, which I found out after everything was released, so looking back on it, that’s terrifying. But other than that, no, I don’t have any connections to him.