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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Andrea Blanco

Bryan Kohberger’s classmates say Idaho murder suspect was bullied in school before personality shift

Washington State University

Former friends of a PhD criminology student accused of murdering four University of Idaho students have described him as a socially awkward, bullied and academically gifted young man who had a personality shift in high school.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was taken into custody in Pennsylvania early Friday in connection to the quadruple murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin following an investigation by the Moscow Police Department, the FBI and Idaho State Police.

According to the Washington State University website, Mr Kohberger is a PhD graduate student in the criminal justice and criminology department in Pullman, Washington, around nine miles west of Moscow, where the students lived and were murdered.

In the aftermath of the breakthrough arrest nearly seven weeks after the brutal stabbings, former friends and acquaintances of Mr Kohberger have come forward with details about his personality and his troubled past allegedly marked by heroin addiction and weight struggles.

“It was bad,” Mr Kohberger’s former high school classmate Sara Healey told Fox News Digital on Friday. “There was definitely something off about him, like we couldn’t tell exactly what it was. I remember one time when I was walking in the hallway, and he stopped me and was like, ‘Do you want to hang out?’”

She added: “But Bryan was bullied a lot, and I never got a chance to say something to defend him, because he would always run away.”

Despite his struggles, Mr Kohberger was very intelligent and always had good grades, Ms Healey said. She added that Mr Kohberger was often rejected and bullied by females, leading her to believe it was that internal frustration which ultimately led to his alleged involvement in the Moscow attack.


Another high school friend of Mr Kohberger said that the accused murderer became a “bully” during his senior year as a way to deal with his own insecurities.

“He always wanted to fight somebody, he was bullying people. We started cutting him off from our friend group because he was 100 percent a different person,” Nick Mcloughlin told The Daily Beast.

Mr Mcloughlin said Mr Kohberger also had a dramatic weight loss that year.

Thomas Arntz, another high school classmate, echoed Mr Mcloughlin’s depiction of Mr Kohberger as a bully.

“He did that to me all the time,” Mr Arntz told the publication. “He would go after my intelligence. He would basically insinuate that I’m kind of slow-witted and that I’m forgetful and [that] I lack the intelligence to be his friend.”

A classmate of Mr Kohberger’s at Pennsylvania’s Northampton Community College, who asked to remain anonymous, told Fox News Digital she last spoke to him about two years ago to discuss what they envisioned for their academic future.

She claimed Mr Kohberger was sure he would be pursuing his PhD and that she would spend hours talking with him about his heroin addiction.

“He’s really, really intelligent. A bright kid .. someone who stood out even in honors and high-level classes,” she told the network. “I want to talk to him now and ask him what happened? What went wrong? What was going through your head? What were you feeling? What was going on? You know, why did this occur?”

Mr Kohberger graduated from Pennsylvania’s DeSales University with a master of arts in criminal justice in May 2022.

A classmate of Mr Kohberger’s at DeSales recounted to The DailyBeast an incident in which he had a disagreement with the arrested suspect.

“He was very levelled and somewhat imposing. There wasn’t much emotion displayed by him,” they said. “He took care with how he spoke.”

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20 y Kaylee Goncalves, 21, os horas antes de morir. (Instagram/Kaylee Goncalves)

In a statement issued to the media, the college said: “On Friday, December 30, DeSales University learned of the arrest of Bryan Kohberger in connection with the murder of four University of Idaho students. Kohberger received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed his graduate studies in June 2022. As a Catholic, Salesian community, we are devastated by this senseless tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families during this difficult time.”

According to online school records, Mr Kohberger went on to receive an associate arts degree in 2018 from Northampton Community College in Albrightsville and then a master’s degree in criminal justice this year from DeSales University.

He was working part-time as a security guard until August 2021 at Pleasant Valley School District, where his mother was listed as a paraprofessional.

Six months ago, Mr Kohberger conducted a study asking criminals how they selected their targets - and how they felt as they committed the crimes.

“Hello, my name is Bryan and I am inviting you to participate in a research project that seeks to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime,” he wrote in May in a since deleted Reddit post. “In particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience.”

The survey was anonymous, and according to the Daily Mail, questions included - “Did you prepare for the crime before leaving your home?”, “Why did you choose that victim or target over others?”, and “What was the first move you made to accomplish your goal?”.

He also asked: “After committing the crime, what were you thinking and feeling?”

While Mr Kohberger was studying criminology, where such questions might seem part and parcel of any programme, many may see them in a different light following his arrest in connection with the murders of Mogen, Goncalves, Kernodle and Chapin.

The four were stabbed to death at a rental home near the campus of University of Idaho, in Moscow, sometime in the early morning hours of Nov 13. Investigators were unable to name a suspect or locate a murder weapon for weeks.

Mr Kohberger was charged with four counts of murder in connection with the killings.

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