A disturbing Reddit subchannel run by fans of Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger has been banned for violating community guidelines.
The subreddit titled “Brynation” was among the most prominent of several unsettling fan groups to emerge on social media following Mr Kohberger’s arrest late last year for the 13 November murders of University of Idaho students Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.
The group grew to more than 500 members before it was recently banned from the platform for violating Reddit’s Moderator Code of Conduct. A notice declaring the ban does not specify when exactly it was put in place or what the specific violations were.
In the aftermath of the murders and Mr Kohberger’s arrest six weeks later, true crime fans flocked to online forums to fill an information gap left by authorities — who first cited the integrity of the investigation as the reason they did not share details about the probe, and now are banned from speaking about the case due to a gag order.
In addition to spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, some of those online communities served as a space for fans of the accused murderer to openly talk about their attraction for him - including Brynation.
The description for the group stated that it was a “subreddit for Bryan Kohberger’s girls”. While posts are no longer visible on the site, they can still be seen on the Internet Archive site.
The archive shows how some members maintained that Mr Kohberger is innocent, while others voiced their support for him even if he is guilty.
Other posts feature overtly sexual comments, as well as collages of his photos and fanfiction stories about him.
Members also spoke about supporting Mr Kohberger in jail, with one posting a screenshot of a receipt after she added $50 to his commissary account as an “early Valentine’s day gift for Bry,” according to Inside Edition.
Elsewhere on Reddit, those kinds of posts were condemned, with fellow Redditors decrying the lack of empathy with the victims and their families.
”This world honestly needs to burn ... Haven’t felt this disgusted in so long, completely lost faith in humanity,” someone commented on the Subreddit r/Idaho4.
Similar groups have proliferated on Facebook, without any apparent oversite from the platform.
Some of the members in support of Mr Kohberger claimed they were hybristophiliacs. According to the American Psychology Association, the term is used to describe people who have a “sexual interest in and attraction to those who commit crimes.”
“People want to be close to the notoriety of it. They also get a sense that they’re special to the person, so that if the person escaped he or she wouldn’t harm…so there’s a bit of narcissism in it as well,” Dr Katherine Ramsland, a renowned professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University, told Cosmopolitan in 2018.
“But primarily the idea is that they want to get close to a violent person so that they can either participate in a fantasy life that involves them or actually become partners with them.”
Dr Ramsland, who authored the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer, was a professor of Mr Kohberger while he was a student at DeSales – he first attended as an undergraduate and then finished his graduate studies in June 2022.
As a criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University at the time of the murders, Mr Kohberger lived just 15 minutes from the victims over the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman. He had moved there from Pennsylvania and began his studies there in August, having just completed his first semester before his arrest.
Mr Kohberger is slated to appear at a pre-trial hearing in his murder case on 26 June.