The city of Moscow, Idaho, has been on edge since four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death at a home near campus on November 13. Residents mourned the victims – Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21 – and concerned the killer will remain at large.
Authorities then arrested a 28-year-old criminology student from nearby Washington State University, Bryan Kohberger, and on Thursday he made his first court appearance in Idaho, where a judge ordered him held without bail. I spoke to Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, a Times reporter who covers the killings, about how they impacted life in Moscow.
Claire: Hi Nicholas, you traveled to Moscow, Idaho after the police made the arrest. They were also there in November right after the murders. How has the city changed?
Nicholas: There is relief after a period of fear. The students told me how they put rods in their windows to keep them closed, or how they call several times a day and get calls from their parents. Shortly after the murders, there was a spate of 911 calls about certain things, like hearing a scream, that might not have warranted a call at normal times. That kind of fear has calmed down since the police made an arrest. This moment also brings a lot of sorrow and sadness. Now that the search may be over, only loss remains.
What was the wider impact of the murders on the city?
Moscow is a beautiful university city. Students are employees in cafes. There are drive-throughs with sandwiches named after the college. A water tower with the University of Idaho logo towers over the city.
Now memories of the murders are almost everywhere. There are memorials outside the crime scene and on campus. Flowers stand in the snow outside a Greek restaurant where some of the victims worked. Businesses have signs that say “Vandal Strong,” a nod to the university’s mascot.
You reported after Thanksgiving that some students have not returned to campus out of fear. Is that still the case now that the winter break is coming to an end?
The students start coming back. The University of Idaho has introduced more security, such as B. More patrols on and around campus. The school also offers self-defense classes and highlights a program that gives students someone to walk with at night so they don’t have to be alone in the dark. But people are still concerned.
There is a deep desire to know why the police believe this man did this. The suspect has maintained his innocence and said through a lawyer that he looks forward to being exonerated.
They were in the courtroom on Thursday when Kohberger was charged. How was the mood and what can you tell us about what we learned that day?
It was tense. I was among a dozen reporters who came to the courthouse very early, around 5 a.m., to make sure we had a seat inside. I was sitting right behind relatives of Kaylee Goncalves, one of the victims. They comforted each other while waiting to see the suspect for the first time.
Earlier in the day, an affidavit containing many new details about the crime had been unsealed. It included a chilling passage from the night of the murders, when a surviving roommate of the victims said she was in “frozen shock” when a man dressed in black walked past her room. But it also left some of the most burning questions unanswered: there’s no clue as to the possible motive, and it doesn’t explain why the killer didn’t attack the other two residents of the house.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs is a reporter with the National Desk, writing on a range of subjects with a focus on criminal justice. He grew up in Aurora, NY, a village less than one square mile (population 607).
Related: Here are 10 things we learned from the affidavit.
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What to look out for
President Biden will visit the US-Mexico border ahead of a summit in Mexico City today.
China is ending its quarantine requirements for travelers today, another major departure from its zero-Covid policy.
Tomorrow begins the first federal anti-death penalty trial against the Biden administration against a man accused of killing eight people on a Manhattan bike lane in 2017.
Georgia, last year’s champion, takes on TCU in Monday night’s college football national championship game.
Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, is out Tuesday. (Introduction was messy, but sales are increasing.)
The Golden Globes air Tuesday night. NBC canceled last year’s show amid an ethics and diversity scandal.
On Thursday, the US will release the latest consumer price data. Last month’s report showed that inflation has slowed more than expected.
The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday.
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