The grieving family of one of the four murdered University of Idaho students are “relieved” by the arrest of suspect Bryan Kohberger — and finally have someone to “direct their anger” toward, according to their attorney.
Steve and Kristi Goncalves had been vocal about their feelings over the seven-week police investigation while grieving the death of their 21-year-old daughter Kaylee. Following the arrest of Kohberger they are looking forward to facing him in a Moscow, Idaho court when he is extradicted from Pennsylvania this week, according to their family attorney.
“It was emotional for them,” lawyer Shanon Gray told The Post on Monday. “You have a lot of anger and a lot of that goes towards something that happened, and now oddly enough … You can direct those emotions towards someone.
“They were thankful the police did the job and got a suspect.”
Kaylee was slaughtered alongside her best friend Madison Mogen, also 21, and couple Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin, both 20, as they slept in their off-campus home on Nov. 13 last year.
Police had released little information to the public about their investigation apart from the murder weapon was a knife and they were looking for a White Hyundai Elantra vehicle.
Kohberger was studying a Ph.D criminology program about nine miles from the murder scene at Washington State University in Pullman, just across the state line. He was tailed by police as he drove with his father back from the university in a car matching the description of the one they were looking for. An FBI team then watched him and gathered evidence before an arrest was made Dec. 30.
Sources told CNN investigators had used a public genealogy database to connect Kohberger with DNA from the crime scene, and they also have cell phone records connecting him to the scene. Beyond that little is known about the evidence gathered by police, Kohberger’s alleged motive or how he is said to have known the victims.
His extradition lawyer in Pennsylvania has said Kohberger plans to plead not guilty and a statement released by his family urged people to take note he is only a suspect at this time and remains innocent until proven guilty.
Gray said the family is still holding out for more information concerning Kohberger’s motive for the alleged crimes and his alleged planning ahead of the gruesome murders, which captivated the entire country.
“I think the guy probably had an idea of what he was doing,” Gray said of Kohberger. “I don’t think he was just walking down the street and said, ‘Oh, look there’s a house. Let me go over to that house and murder four students.’ I think there’s something there, but how that connects with any of the victims, I don’t know.”
Here’s the latest coverage on the brutal killings of four college friends:
Gray said while the Goncalves family is looking forward to facing the alleged killer, they have not discussed whether to ask prosecutors to pursue the death penalty at this stage.
“I think it’s too early,” Gray said of the death penalty. “It’s going to be a long process.”
The last execution conducted by lethal injection in Idaho was on June 2012 of Richard Leavitt, who was convicted of stabbing and mutilating the body of victim Danette Elg, in 1984.
BK Norton, one of Kohberger’s classmates in the Ph.D program, said Kohberger was still attending courses after the news of the murders in Moscow. While he was more animated than usual when discussing other cases, Kohberger stayed silent and “deadpan” when the University killings came up, Norton told The Post.
Speaking as to what drove someone to commit such a heinous quadruple murder, Gray added: “Motives are a big deal when it comes to things like this. Sometimes [people are] just mentally ill … and there’s no real motive other than they have mental health issues.
“We don’t know anything about that or if [the murderer] just don’t have the consciousness … and they were doing something that they wanted to do,” however he also pointed out: “You don’t need a motive for conviction.”
During a press conference last week, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said more information would be provided once Kohberger is arraigned in Moscow court, with a probable cause affidavit set to be unsealed once he is charged in Idaho.