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Arrest brings redemption for Idaho police department

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(NewsNation) — As the investigation into the killing of four University of Idaho students progressed, police were ridiculed for remaining quiet, with some suggesting local authorities might be overwhelmed, underqualified or simply incompetent.

The probable cause affidavit released Thursday revealed they knew a lot more, a lot earlier, than many thought.

The affidavit showed police had key information throughout the investigation, including suspect Bryan Kohberger’s name. He was arrested in Pennsylvania earlier this week and had his first court appearance Thursday in Moscow, Idaho, where he was ordered held without bond.

One of the most shocking details contained in the affidavit was that one of the surviving roommates told police she saw a masked man leaving the house the night of the killings. Police later matched the description to that of Kohberger.

Police remained largely silent throughout the investigation, declining to state whether they had any persons of interest, who made the 911 call reporting the incident and how they arrived at decisions to clear people as suspects. It led pundits, internet sleuths and victims’ families to criticize the local authorities.

All the while, police spent seven weeks putting together evidence they believe will prove Kohberger committed quadruple homicide.

“These guys did an amazing job. They need more credit than they had. They hit a homerun. That affidavit is impressive,” Steve Goncalves, father of victim Kaylee Goncalves, said Thursday on “Banfield.” “I was concerned, but I was wrong, they were right, and I’m OK with that.”

The Goncalves family was critical of the investigation, particularly for the few details police were releasing. They had also expressed concerns over the quickness with which police cleared certain people as suspects.

The family hired an attorney, Shanon Gray, who at one point questioned whether the Moscow Police Department was equipped to lead the investigation. Gray said Thursday that he was surprised at the amount of information in the affidavit.

“It looks like it’s a solid case,” said Gray, a former prosecutor.

In the 18-page affidavit, investigators say they linked the 28-year-old Washington State University Ph.D. student to the crime scene after finding a “tan leather knife sheath” laying next to Madison Mogen on the bed where she and Kaylee Goncalves were found dead with stab wounds.

Priya Banerjee, a board-certified forensic pathologist, commended the work of police and investigators in obtaining DNA evidence from that sheath.

“They did a great job on a very subtle finding, if you will, on the sheath to find his connection there, find the DNA, and I think that’s the money,” Banerjee said Thursday on “CUOMO.”

Authorities were able to tie that DNA to Kohberger after investigators recovered trash from the Kohberger family residence in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania.

Police believe the homicides occurred between 4 and 4:25 a.m.

A security camera less than 50 feet from one of the victim’s bedrooms picked up the sound of a dog barking several times around 4:17 a.m. on the day of the killings, the affidavit says.

After reviewing several videos obtained from the area near the crime scene, authorities saw the suspect’s vehicle — later determined to be a 2015 white Hyundai Elantra — multiple times between 3:29 a.m. and 4:20 a.m. on the day of the attack.

Neighborhood surveillance videos showed the suspect’s vehicle making three initial passes by the home where the victims were found. The vehicle was later seen departing the area “at a high rate of speed,” investigators wrote.

Authorities say they used other pieces of surveillance footage, including from a nearby Albertson’s grocery store, to connect Kohberger to the Elantra and the residence.

“I didn’t expect this level of detail,” said Jesse Weber, a host on Law and Crime Network. “There was a reason they were keeping all this information close to the vest.”

Weber joined “Dan Abrams Live” on Thursday to discuss the affidavit.

“It was excellent police work in how it all tied together,” Weber said. “Who knew they were looking at so much security footage?”

NewsNation reporters Andrew Dorn and Brian Entin contributed to this report.

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