The 911 call that alerted police to the slayings of the four University of Idaho students has long been shrouded in mystery after Moscow police said the caller first reported “an unconscious person” in the home.
The call was made from the cell phone of one of the two surviving roommates around 11:58 a.m. on November 13, while the dispatcher was talking to several people.
Officers arrived at the home to find a bloody scene, with Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin all dead from multiple stab wounds.
Since then, questions have persisted surrounding why the caller reported an “unconscious person” as officials described the scene as one of the worst they had ever seen.
A potential cause of the mysterious 911 call has now been revealed in Air Mail’s article “The Eyes of a Killer”.
Civilian employees at Whitcom 9-1-1, an agency in Pullman, Washington, handle the 911 calls for the Moscow Police Department as well as several other agencies, according to the report.
The agency is severely understaffed to such an extent that the dispatchers’ guild has previously warned that “our ability to maintain public safety is at risk.”
According to standard protocol, when callers “are agitated” the dispatcher will often assign the call the generic label “unconscious person” rather than waste valuable time and resources trying to gather specific details.
In this case, it is possible that the clerk assigned the generic label while talking to the students who panicked at what they saw and passed the phone from one to the other.
The explanation comes as many questions remain unanswered about the case that has sent shockwaves through the small university town of Moscow, close to the Washington state border.
The suspected quadruple murderer Bryan Kohberger is accused of breaking into the student dormitory in the early hours of November 13 and stabbing the four students to death in a brutal knife attack.
The motive for the killings remains unknown, and it remains unclear why Kohberger allegedly targeted the victims – or whether he even knew them.
A lawyer representing Goncalves’ family said “no connection” had been found between the four students and the suspect.
The victims’ families must now wait another six months to get more answers in the case after the next court date was set for June.
Mr. Kohberger appeared in Latah County Court on Thursday for his status hearing where he waived his right to a speedy trial.
Dressed in an orange T-shirt and with unexplained cuts on his face, Kohberger spoke only to answer “yes” when asked if he understood his rights to an expedited preliminary hearing within the next 14 days and if he agreed to waive these rights.
Kohberger’s public defender Anne Taylor then asked that his next court date be postponed until June.
Prosecutors agreed to the request, and the judge scheduled the preliminary hearing for the week beginning June 26.
The entire week is set aside for the hearing — when evidence in the case against Kohberger will be presented for the first time in court, and Kohberger is likely to enter a plea to the charges.
Until then, Kohberger will be held behind bars in the Latah County Jail after he was ordered held without bail for the second time.
Kohberger did not enter a plea during Thursday’s hearing — his second appearance in an Idaho court since he was extradited from Pennsylvania last week.
However, he is said to be planning to fight the charges with Jason LaBar, the attorney who represented in Pennsylvania, saying Kohberger was “eager to be exonerated”.
He was formally arraigned on four counts of murder and one count of burglary at his first court appearance in Idaho on January 5.
His latest court appearance coincides with the start of the spring semester at the University of Idaho, with many students returning to campus this week for the first time since the brutal murders.
Several students spoke of their relief that the suspect is now behind bars, while sophomore Ryder Paslay told KXLY that he “breathed [a] sigh of relief’ when news broke of Kohberger’s arrest on 30 December.
While Mr Kohberger has so far remained tight-lipped about the killings in his court appearances, sources have spoken out to reveal that he made direct comments about the killings before and after his arrest.
Kohberger’s neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CBS News that Kohberger spoke to him about the quadruple homicide just days after the Nov. 13 attack.
“He brought it up in conversation,” they said.
“[He] asked if I had heard of the murders, which I had. And then he said, ‘Yeah, it seems like they don’t have any leads. It seems like it was a crime of passion. At the time of our conversation, it was only a few days after it happened, so there weren’t many details.”
During the extradition from Pennsylvania to Moscow, he is also said to have made a direct comment about the killings of officers.
“He said, ‘It’s really sad what happened to them,’ but he didn’t say anything else.” He’s smarter than that, a law enforcement source told People.
Kohberger appeared “really nervous” during the journey back to Moscow and talked loudly to himself in an apparent attempt to calm himself, the source added.
– He seemed very nervous. He told himself everything that happened, they said.
“At one point he said something to himself like, ‘I’m fine, this is fine.’ As if reassuring himself that this whole thing wasn’t terrible.”
Some chilling details about the murders emerged in Kohberger’s affidavit — released last week — with cellphone data suggesting Kohberger stalked the dorm at least 12 times leading up to the night of the murders, according to the affidavit.
At the time of the murders, investigators believe Kohberger turned off his cell phone to try to avoid detection.
However, mobile phone data places him near the King Road home around 9am on November 13 – suggesting he returned to the scene of the crime just hours after allegedly murdering the four victims around 4am.
In addition to cell phone data, the affidavit reveals that other evidence also led them to arrest Kohberger for the student murders.
Police said his DNA was found on a knife sheath left at the scene by the killer.
A white Hyundai Elantra spotted at the scene at the time of the murders was also traced back to the suspect, the affidavit reveals.
One of the victims’ surviving roommates was also able to partially describe the killer to investigators after she came face to face with him in the aftermath of the murders.
Investigators believe the murders took place between 4:00 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. on November 13, when all four students had returned from nights out.
Two other roommates were also in the dormitory at the time of the attack, but were left unharmed.
Around noon the next day, a 911 call was made from the phone of one of the surviving roommates who alerted the police to the bloody crime scene.
The affidavit has now revealed for the first time that one of the surviving roommates – Dylan Mortensen – came face to face with the masked killer as he left the home after killing her four friends.
In her chilling account to investigators, she revealed that she heard the killer inside the home and heard what sounded like crying from one of her roommates.
At one point she heard a female voice – believed to be either Goncalves or Kernodle – saying something along the lines of “there’s someone here”, before hearing a male voice saying “it’s ok, I’ll help you”.
She then had a lucky escape when she opened the door to see what was happening and witnessed “a figure dressed in black clothes and a mask covering the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her”.
The man walked right past her and headed for the back glass door of the home.
The description she gave — a man with bushy eyebrows who was about 5-foot-10 or taller and “not very muscular, but athletically built” — helped lead investigators to Kohberger.
The Washington State University PHD student and teaching assistant was arrested on December 30 in an early morning raid on his family’s home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, where he had gone to spend the holidays.
He was extradited back to Idaho last week to face charges, and his white Hyundai Elantra was seized by investigators.
The murder weapon – a knife with a fixed blade – has not yet been found.
As a graduate student in criminal justice at Washington State University, he lived just 15 minutes from the victims across the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman.
He had moved there from Pennsylvania in August and has just finished his first semester.
Before this, he studied criminology at DeSales University – first as a bachelor and then finished his main studies in June 2022.
While there, he studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-authored the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with him.
He also conducted a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological characteristics influence decision-making when committing a crime”.
Now he faces life in prison or the death penalty for the murders that have rocked the small university town of Moscow and made headlines around the world.