Bryan Kohberger was fired from WSU teaching job days before Idaho murders arrest, report says

His attitude towards women was cited as a key concern, with the criminal justice student allegedly having a ‘sexist attitude towards females he interacted with at the school’

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 09 February 2023 18:46 GMT
Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger appears in court for the first time
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Bryan Kohberger was facing disciplinary action in his teaching assistant job at Washington State University (WSU) around the time of the murders of four University of Idaho students – before he was ultimately fired from the position days prior to his arrest.

The 28-year-old criminology PhD student began working as a teaching assistant in the criminology department in August as part of his graduate program.

But within a month he was already under investigation by the university because of “behavioural problems” and a “sexist attitude towards women”, according to NewsNation.

The outlet obtained a detailed timeline of his issues in the department, revealing that Mr Kohberger was warned multiple times about his behaviour and was brought into several meetings with professors due to their concerns.

His attitude towards women was cited as a key concern, with the criminal justice student allegedly being “rude to women”, grading the women that he taught differently to the men, and having a “sexist attitude towards females he interacted with at the school”.

In his brief four-month stint as a teaching assistant, Mr Kohberger also reportedly got into multiple altercations with one of the professors – Professor John Snyder.

The first altercation reportedly took place on 23 September and he was called in to meet the professor to discuss his behaviour on 3 October.

But his behaviour only escalated, with reports of him becoming increasingly “feisty”, “belligerent” and getting into arguments with professors in the run-up to the murders.

On 21 October, Professor Snyder emailed Mr Kohberger telling him he had failed to meet the expectations he had outlined in their previous discussion.

On 2 November – 11 days before the murders – Mr Kohberger reportedly met with the professor to discuss an “improvement plan” for his behaviour.

Less than two weeks later on 13 November, the 28-year-old is accused of stabbing to death Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves in a student home just over the Washington border in Moscow, Idaho.

In the aftermath of the slayings, the university continued to note his concerning behaviour.

Mr Kohberger attended a meeting with the professor about the improvement plan on 7 December – before getting into yet another altercation with him two days later.

Bryan Kohberger appears in court accused of killing four University of Idaho students
Bryan Kohberger appears in court accused of killing four University of Idaho students (AP)

The professor condemned his behaviour, writing to the accused killer that it was “apparent that you have not made progress regarding your professionalism”.

On 19 December – just over one month on from the murders – Mr Kohberger was ultimately fired from his WSU teaching post, reported NewsNation.

Days later, on 30 December, he was arrested at his parents’ home near the Poconos Mountains and charged with the horrific quadruple homicide. He is now being held behind bars back in Moscow awaiting his preliminary hearing in June.

Phil Weiler, the vice president at WSU, told The Independent that the university cannot discuss a student’s records.

“Bryan Kohberger received an appointment as a teaching assistant at Washington State University (WSU) during the fall 2022 semester. It is typical for students to receive a teaching assistantship or similar appointment as part of their PhD program,” he said in a statement.

“Mr Kohberger does not currently have a teaching assistantship and he is not currently enrolled at WSU.

“Information concerning a student’s teaching assistantship is considered a student record. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents universities from discussing student records. As a result, I am unable to comment on Mr Kohberger’s experience as a teaching assistant.”

The Independent also reached out to Professor Snyder for comment.

The revelation comes as law enforcement officials in two separate Pennsylvania counties revealed that they have been sifting through unsolved cold cases looking for any potential ties to Mr Kohberger.

The suspect, now facing the death penalty for four counts of murder, grew up in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, and had only moved to Washington state in the summer of 2022 to begin his graduate program.

He has no prior criminal record but Northampton County District Attorney Terence Houck told King5 that his staff was exploring the possibility that Mr Kohberger had struck before in the county where he went to community college.

Mr Houck said “nothing with respect to Kohberger has come about in our investigations of cold cases or unsolved cases to this point, but we always continue to investigate and pursue leads”.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin confirmed that authorities had also looked for potential ties between Mr Kohberger and unsolved cases in the area.

For the four years before Mr Kohberger moved to Washington, he studied criminology at DeSales University.

While there, he studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-wrote the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with him.

Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were killed on 13 November
Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were killed on 13 November (Instagram)

He also carried out a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime”.

No connections had yet been made between Mr Kohberger and unsolved crimes in Lehigh County, said Mr Martin.

There was one prior contact between police and Mr Kohberger where he called 911 to report his car being locked behind a parked gate on a bike trail.

No motive has been given for the attack on 13 November and officials have not confirmed what connection Mr Kohberger had – if any – to the victims.

The affidavit, released in January, revealed that investigators believe Mr Kohberger may have stalked the student home in the run-up to the mass murder, with cellphone data placing him around the property 12 times before 13 November.

At the time of the murders, investigators believe Mr Kohberger turned his cellphone off in order to try to avoid detection.

However, cellphone data places him close to the home on King Road at around 9am on 13 November – suggesting that he returned to the scene of the crime just hours after allegedly murdering the four victims at around 4am, the affidavit reveals.

As well as cellphone data, the affidavit reveals that other evidence also led them to arrest Mr Kohberger for the student murders.

Police said that his DNA was also found on a knife sheath left behind at the scene by the killer and his white Hyundai Elantra was caught on surveillance footage at the crime scene at the time of the murders, 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.

In January, police in Washington unsealed search warrants for Mr Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman and his office at Washington State University (WSU).

The searches were carried out on 30 December – the same day that he was taken into police custody in Pennsylvania.

The unsealed documents reveal that investigators seized a string of items from his home including possible human and animal hair strands, a disposable glove, items with red and brown stains and a computer.

No items were seized from his office which he shared with other PhD students.

The murder weapon – a fixed-blade knife – was not recovered during the searches and it is still unclear where it may be.

Mr Kohberger is next scheduled to appear in court on 26 June for his preliminary hearing.

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