Twice, Indiana law enforcement officials stopped the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students and let him go — and both times happened the same day, authorities said Tuesday.
The stops came about two weeks before Bryan Christopher Kohberger was arrested in Pennslyvania.
On Dec. 15, deputies pulled over Kohberger in Hancock County, Indiana, for “following too closely” on Interstate 70, the sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday.
Kohberger was driving and had a passenger, who was not identified, when the Hyundai Elantra was stopped about 10:40 a.m., the agency said. He was released with a verbal warning.
“At the time of the traffic stop, there was no information available on a suspect for the crimes in Idaho, to include identifying information or any specific information related to the license plate state or number of the white Hyundai Elantra which was being reported in the media to have been seen in an around where the crime occurred,” the statement said.
And nine minutes after he was stopped by sheriff’s deputies, Indiana State Police pulled over the vehicle, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. Again, Kohberger, who had a passenger, was released with a warning for driving too closely, state police said.
The state agency said that when a trooper made the stop, there was no information available about a suspect in the Idaho slayings or any information related to the license plate number for the Hyundai.
“The trooper, having learned the two had been stopped minutes before by a deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, who he knew was working just down the interstate from him, used his discretion and released the two men with a verbal warning,” state police said.
The Indiana stops happened about a month after Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho, were killed in a home near the University of Idaho campus.
Last week, about 2,500 miles away, Pennsylvania State Police arrested Kohberger, 28, in the students’ deaths.
He made a brief appearance Tuesday at a Monroe County court in Pennsylvania and waived extradition, paving the way for him to face murder charges in Idaho.
Authorities said he will be charged with four counts of first-degree murder and burglary when he is returned to Idaho.
Law enforcement officials have not publicly released crucial pieces of information about the case and arrest, including a possible motive, Kohberger’s potential relationships to the victims or evidence that led police to track him down.
During a news conference following Kohberger’s appearance in court Tuesday, authorities in Pennsylvania discussed the arrest.
Michael Mancuso, first assistant district attorney in Monroe County, said authorities there obtained three search warrants and the affidavits attached to them remain under seal.
The warrants were to collect DNA from Kohberger, another was for the Hyundai Elantr, while a third was for Kohberger’s parents’ home. Kohberger was arrested there without incident, authorities said.
Kohberger, a doctoral student in the criminal justice and criminology department at Washington State University, 9 miles from Moscow, Idaho, was known to make “creepy” and inappropriate comments to female employees and customers at a Pennsylvania brewery, the business owner said.