The sister of one of the four University of Idaho students who was stabbed to death on Nov. 13 said it has been chilling to learn that suspect Bryan Kohberger, 28, appears to have been watching the Moscow home in the months prior to the murders.
“We had no idea. She had no idea. I had no idea that true evil was genuinely watching them,” Alivea Goncalves, 26, sister of victim Kaylee Goncalves, 21, said in an interview with NewsNation on Sunday.
Reading through the probable cause affidavit, which notes that Kohberger’s cell phone was in the vicinity of the crime scene “on at least twelve occasions” prior to the date of the murder, has been “the hardest part of this — to sit back and look at the totality of it,” Goncalves said.
“When my sister was FaceTiming me about a new egg bites recipe, [Kohberger] was planning his next visit to the home,” she said. “That’s really difficult, it’s really difficult, not to wish that you had done more and wish that you had known more.”
Goncalves said it was also disturbing to learn from the affidavit that Kohberger, a doctoral student in criminology, allegedly “went back to the home the morning of [the murders], before police had been called, I think to see if his circus, so to say, had started to unfold.”
Kohberger is accused of killing Kaylee Goncalves; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; and Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona.
Kohberger made his first court appearance in Idaho on Jan. 5 and faces four charges of first-degree murder, which carry sentences including life in prison or the death penalty.
Kohberger was ordered held without bail, and his next pretrial hearing was set for Jan. 12.
Kaylee Goncalves’ parents, Kristi and Steve, were in court last week. It’s unclear if Alivea was there, but she told NewsNation she plans to be at “every single” hearing throughout the case.
She and her family “are starting” to be able to grieve given that a suspect is in custody, she said.
“It’s kind of an odd time to do that being that we still have such a long road ahead of us, but the relief that we all felt having a suspect in custody was — it was like I can’t even describe it, like the weight of the world was lifted from our shoulders.”
In the NewsNation interview, Goncalves also addressed another key finding from the affidavit: that one of the two roommates who was physically unharmed and survived, Dylan Mortensen, identified as “D.M.” in the document, “saw a figure clad in black clothing and a mask” walking past her and exiting the house the night of the murders as she stood in a “frozen shock phase.”
Mortensen “locked herself in her room after seeing the male,” and 911 was not called from one of the roommates’ phones until hours later, just before noon, the affidavit states.
Goncalves said Mortensen should not be blamed for her actions, which independent experts told NBC News are not uncommon in potentially threatening situations.
“I do know Dylan is really young and she was probably really, really scared, and until we have any more information, I think everyone should stop passing judgments because you don’t know what you would do in that situation,” Goncalves told NewsNation.
She added that she is forwarding any information she receives about potential connections between Kohberger and the victims to law enforcement.
“I’ve had a lot of people reach out with Instagram posts or even Spotify or lots of connections that they’ve been able to find and those are super valuable, all of those go over to the Moscow Police Department as well as the Idaho State Police and the FBI because nothing is insignificant at this point and everything is being looked through,” she said.
The university has said Kaylee Goncalves was a senior majoring in general studies in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, and was in the Alpha Phi sorority. In a previous interview with NBC’s “TODAY,” Alivea Goncalves called her sister “the ultimate go-getter.”
Deon J. Hampton, David K. Li and Safia Samee Ali contributed.