Authorities have lifted the lid on alleged evidence found in the home of Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger, marking the latest development in a horror case that has gripped the nation for two months.
A search warrant was executed at Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman, Washington, on December 30, the same day he was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, accused of the November 13 stabbings of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. in Moscow, Idaho.
An inventory of evidence found during the apartment search was released Wednesday, revealing the seizure of 15 items, including hair, receipts, a computer tower, a disposable glove and items with strange stains.
The disc reignited a frenzy of online speculation – despite its simplicity and lack of conjecture.
But what meaning, if any, can actually be gleaned from the list? The independent spoke with two experts – Dr Monte Miller, a former crime scene investigator and forensics expert for the Texas Department of Public Safety; and former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer – for their views on each item.
Kohberger is presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial, so the experts’ assessments are based solely on what the police have identified as potential evidence.
In the search warrant, investigators list several items with stains, including scraps of a mattress cover, a “reddish/brown” stain on an uncovered pillow and a “collection of dark red stains.”
Both Dr Miller and Coffindaffer told The independent that the police probably believe that the stains may be blood.
“A reddish or brown spot is a euphemism for ‘We found something that looks like blood,'” Dr Miller said. “It could be blood from the victims, could be his blood. They won’t know until they test it, but they will be able get DNA if there’s blood. We don’t know what the stains on the cover sheets look like, but again, they’re looking for all kinds of DNA, evidence that might have come from the crime scene.”
Coffindaffer added: “They don’t call it blood, but it’s definitely believed to be blood.”
Dr. Miller noted that while stains on clothing and bedding are not necessarily unusual, investigators will try to link the evidence found in the Pullman apartment to the Moscow crime scene.
“The likelihood that any of these stains came from the crime scene is going to depend on how well he cleaned up,” he said.
Dickies brand and receipts from Walmart and Marshalls
According to the search warrant, investigators also seized one receipt from Walmart, two from Marshalls and a tag from the clothing brand Dickies.
Dr. Miller said investigators could try to prove that the items listed on those receipts, and whatever the tag came from, match the clothing worn by the alleged killer.
“[The suspect] may have bought something to wear and throw away, and so on [law enforcement] found these receipts and asked ‘Where are these clothes?'” he said.
The receipts can also reveal how long ago the clothes were purchased, Coffindaffer noted.
“I think that they will indicate not only what was purchased — which is relevant to the crime — but also when, which I think is very important to see the timing, to see a predication that this was planned,” Coffindaffer said. “Was this just one day? Several days before? The time stamp to me is as important as what was written on these receipts.”
The hairs, strands of hair and possible animal hair
Included in the list of seizures was a “possible strand of animal hair”. While Kohberger is not believed to have a pet, one of the victims he is accused of killing, Goncalves, had a dog that was home at the time of the murders and was later found by police who responded to the scene.
“The possible animal hair they will try to connect it to the dog left at the scene,” according to Dr. Miller. “If there’s a mess on it, if there’s skin on the hair, they can do a DNA test on that dog. If it’s just a hair that’s been shed and there’s no skin, they’d still be able to to do a microscopic comparison and exclude most dogs, but they wouldn’t necessarily be able to connect it to that dog.”
Coffindaffer also explained that the suspect would have left evidence at the scene, but also taken evidence with him before leaving. She said she was surprised by how little hair was listed on the search warrant.
“I expect these items have been transferred to [the killer] and when he took off his clothes, then transferred to other clothes and objects. So I was surprised not to see more objects and more hair,” she said.
Dr. Miller explained how the hairs that were collected indicated that they were found separately.
“They may have collected eight hairs in a pillowcase, and collected one separately because they found it [in a different place],” he said. “And some, when they collected it, wrote only strands of hair instead of hair. Sometimes you write things a little differently.”
The distinction between “hair” and “hairline” was not necessarily meaningful, Coffindaffer also said, as there could have been more than one logger who preferred one wording over the other.
She also noted that the total amount of finds in the Washington state apartment was quite underwhelming.
“I would point out that it’s not really as interesting to me what’s on the search warrant as what’s not in the search isn’t coming back,” she said The independent. “I just expected so much more information, so many more hairs. I expected fibers, I expected clothes to be taken. I was hoping for shoes.”
Data tower and Fire TV stick
In addition to physical evidence, investigators can examine Kohberger’s behavior, including computer searches, articles he read and television he watched in the weeks before and after the murders.
“They might be looking at what he saw. Did he watch the news? Did he see anything connected to the murders? So he reprogrammed [crime]?” Dr. Miller told The independent. “Some of that can go with his doctorate, or can be explained to him. [Investigators] just trying to put the whole picture together.”
Coffindaffer echoed that assessment, adding that Kohberger’s Fire TV stick could be paired with other apps and even social media platforms.
“There could be very important information there, particularly related to his searches and social media,” she added.
Investigators also searched the Washington State University office used by the suspect, a graduate student and teaching assistant in criminology, but found no items.
Dust container for a vacuum cleaner
According to Coffindaffer, the contents of a vacuum cleaner found in Kohberger’s apartment may contain important physical evidence.
“If he cleaned his place very thoroughly – as in the fact that we have had very few items returned, it seems to be true – that [could] contains the very important evidence, including hair and including fibers,” she said.
A single nitrite glove
Among the items seized by the police was a single nitrite glove, which Coffindaffer described as a special find.
“It’s a very specific type of glove that’s extremely tight so you can manipulate [things with your hands.] They’re a similar type to what we have on SWAT, so we could handle flashbangs and shoot our weapons and feel,” she said.
Dr. Miller emphasized that investigators may have recognized the type of glove if similar material had been found at the scene.