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Roommate who survived Idaho student killings saw figure dressed in black clothing and a mask, affidavit says

By Dakin Andone, Elizabeth Joseph and Veronica Miracle, CNN

One of the two roommates who survived the fatal November stabbings of four University of Idaho students told investigators she saw a masked man dressed in black in the house the morning of the attack, according to a probable cause affidavit released Thursday in prosecutors’ case against suspect Bryan Kohberger.

The roommate, identified in the document as D.M., said she “heard crying” in the house the morning of the killings and heard a male voice say, ‘it’s ok, I’m going to help you.'” D.M. said she then saw a “figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her,” the affidavit says.

“D.M. described the figure as 5′ 10″ or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows,” the affidavit says. “The male walked past D.M. as she stood in a ‘frozen shock phase.’

“The male walked towards the back sliding glass door. D.M. locked herself in her room after seeing the male,” the document says, adding the roommate did not recognize the male.

The release of the affidavit — which also points to DNA found at the scene of the killings and at the Pennsylvania home of Kohberger’s family — came as the 28-year-old suspect made his first court appearance in Idaho, where he faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary.

Kohberger was booked into the Latah County jail Wednesday night after being extradited from his home state of Pennsylvania, where he was arrested last Friday, almost seven weeks after Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, were found fatally stabbed in an off-campus home in the college town of Moscow, Idaho.

On Thursday, Kohberger smiled at his public defender when he walked into the courtroom and did not appear to make eye contact with anyone else throughout the proceeding, including the families of victims who were crying in the first row and stared at the suspect.

The judge Thursday upheld both prosecutors’ request for a two-year no contact order for the victims’ family members and the surviving roommates and their request that Kohberger not be granted bail. He is due back in court January 12 for a status hearing that would precede a preliminary hearing.

Kohberger did not enter a plea. A court order prohibits the prosecution and defense from commenting beyond referencing the public records of the case.

Key evidence includes bushy eyebrows and white sedan

The affidavit addresses some questions authorities have so far left unanswered, namely some of the steps used to identify Kohberger as a suspect, including the fact his appearance — 6 feet tall and 185 pounds with bushy eyebrows, the document says, citing his driver’s license — matches the description provided to investigators by the surviving roommate.

But the document also leaves key questions unanswered, including how the suspect allegedly entered the home, whether there was any relationship between the suspect and the victims, why the masked man walked past a surviving roommate and what the alleged motive for the slayings was.

The killings occurred early in the morning November 13, after the victims spent the night out: Chapin and Kernodle had attended a party on campus earlier that night, police have said, while Mogen and Goncalves went to a downtown bar before ordering food at a late-night food truck.

A call to 911 was made just before noon the next day about an unconscious person at the residence, police said, and arriving officers discovered the bodies of the four students. There was no sign of forced entry or damage, police said.

A review of local surveillance footage brought to investigators’ attention a white sedan, later identified as a Hyundai Elantra, the affidavit says, that was seen in the area around the home. By November 25, area law enforcement had been notified to be on the lookout for such a vehicle, the affidavit notes.

Several days later, officers at nearby Washington State University, where the suspect was a PhD student in the criminal justice program, identified a white Elantra and subsequently found it was registered to Kohberger.

Kohberger’s driver’s license information was consistent with the description the surviving roommate saw in the home at the time of the attack, the affidavit says, noting specifically his height, weight and his “bushy eyebrows.”

Kohberger received a new license plate for his Elantra five days after the killings, the affidavit says, citing records from the Washington State Department of Licensing.

At the time of his arrest last week, a white Elantra was found at Kohberger’s parents’ house in Pennsylvania, according to Monroe County Chief Public Defender Jason LaBar, who said Kohberger had gone home for the holidays and arrived there around December 17.

A law enforcement source told CNN Kohberger “cleaned his car, inside and outside, not missing an inch.”

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also said Kohberger was seen multiple times outside his family’s Pennsylvania home wearing surgical gloves.

Surveillance team worked to obtain DNA

At the scene of the killings, authorities found a tan leather knife sheath laying on the bed next to one of the victims, the affidavit released Thursday says. On its button snap, the Idaho State Lab would later find a single source of male DNA.

Late last month, Pennsylvania law enforcement there recovered trash from Kohberger’s family home in Albrightsville, the affidavit adds. That evidence, too, was sent to the Idaho State Lab.

A day later, the lab reported the DNA in the trash “identified a male as not being excluded as the biological father” of the suspect whose DNA was found on the sheath.

“At least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father,” the affidavit says.

The law enforcement source who spoke to CNN explained how items in the trash were recovered before being sent to the Idaho State Lab.

The source was briefed on observations made by investigators during four days of surveillance leading up to Kohberger’s arrest.

The surveillance team was given two missions, according to multiple law enforcement sources: to keep eyes on Kohberger so they could arrest him as soon as a warrant was issued, and to try and obtain an object that would yield a DNA sample from Kohberger which could then be compared to the DNA evidence found at the crime scene.

The source said in one instance prior to the suspect’s arrest, Kohberger was observed by authorities leaving his Pennsylvania family home around 4 a.m. and putting garbage bags in the neighbors’ garbage bins.

And agents were then able to recover the garbage both from the Kohberger family’s trash bins and what was observed being placed into the neighbors’ bins, the law enforcement source said.

Then on Friday, a Pennsylvania State Police SWAT team moved in on the Kohberger family home, breaking down the door and breaking through windows in what is known as a “dynamic entry” — a tactic used in rare cases to arrests “high risk” suspects, the source added.

Suspect’s phone was near victims’ house at least 12 times

Additionally, phone records indicate Kohberger’s phone was near the victims’ residence at least 12 times between June 2022 to the present day, the affidavit says. “All of these occasions, except for one, occurred in the late evening and early morning hours of their respective days.”

Those records also indicate Kohberger’s phone was near the scene later that morning, between 9:12 a.m. and 9:21 a.m., hours after the killings, the document says.

Law enforcement’s review of phone records show Kohberger’s phone left his home at approximately 9 a.m. and traveled to Moscow, the affidavit says, and that the same phone traveled “back to the area of the Kohberger Residence … arriving to the area at approximately 9:32 a.m.”

Suspect applied for a police internship

Kohberger allegedly applied for an internship with the Pullman Police Department in Washington state in the fall of 2022, the court documents also revealed, citing police records.

“Pursuant to records provided by a member of the interview panel for Pullman Police Department, we learned that Kohberger’s past education included (undergraduate) degrees in psychology and cloud-based forensics,” according to the affidavit.

The same police records also showed Kohberger allegedly wrote an essay when he applied for the police department internship in which he expressed interest in “assisting rural law enforcement agencies with how to better collect and analyze technological data in public safety operations,” the affidavit says.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong day for the release of the probable cause affidavit. It was released Thursday.

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CNN’s Stephanie Becker, John Miller, Jason Kravarik, Kevin Flower and Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.

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