Bryan Kohberger may have left more DNA at the house where he allegedly murdered four university of Idaho students, according to an expert on genetic genealogy.
DNA from a lone male was found on a knife sheath recovered at the rental home in Moscow where the victims—Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin—were killed in the early morning hours on November 13, according to a probable cause affidavit unsealed on Thursday.
The affidavit said that DNA was then matched with DNA from the suspect’s father found in trash taken from Kohberger’s parents’ home in Pennsylvania, where he was arrested in late December.
That was done using a “standard” test that has “been accepted in courtrooms for decades to establish paternity,” CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs, said on NewsNation on Saturday. “So that is very, very high confidence.”
Bloodstained mattresses and furniture were removed from the crime scene this weekend.
Moore said it’s possible that Kohberger—a 28-year-old criminal justice doctoral student at Washington State University, just across the state border from Moscow—could also be linked to other DNA found at the crime scene.
“This was such an incredibly horrible crime scene and we’re learning more and more all the time. I think it’s very likely there’s additional DNA from Bryan at that scene,” Moore said.
The DNA recovered from the knife sheath was “probably touch DNA,” Moore said.
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he left additional DNA behind,” Moore added, noting that the affidavit detailed how an unharmed roommate saw a masked intruder with bushy eyebrows walking toward her on the night of the killings.
“We know from the witness statement that at least his eyebrows were showing, and it sounds like his hair wasn’t even covered,” Moore said. “So he may have left hair behind as well, which also contains DNA… advancements in technology have meant we can get quite a lot of information from even a rootless hair now, so I think both they and the defense are scouring that crime scene to see what else is there.”
She said it wasn’t clear why the mattresses were being being moved now.
“I think there’s been a lot of work on that crime scene already, gathering any possible physical evidence to the prosecution’s case, try to support their case,” she said. Kohberger’s defense team would be looking “to try to find somebody else’s DNA that they can try to pin this crime on,” she added.
Jennifer Coffindaffer, a former FBI agent, told Newsweek that it’s possible DNA from sweat or saliva from the person who killed the students could be recovered from the crime scene.
“You leave a trace of yourself no matter where you go, and you take traces of where you’ve been with you,” she said. “I have always said from the beginning, DNA will be the savior in this case because there is no perfect murder when it comes to DNA, it will be left behind.”
On NewsNation, Moore also said that she thinks it’s possible that investigative genetic genealogy was initially used by law enforcement to hone in on Kohberger as the suspect in the killings.
It may have helped them to determine that Kohberger’s family tree “was consistent with the DNA sample from the knife sheath,” Moore said.
“They don’t have to include everything in the affidavit and genetic genealogy should not be used for the basis of an arrest. So in my opinion, it would be proper that they left that out.”
Moore has been contacted for further comment.
Kohberger made his first appearance in an Idaho court, where he faces four charges of first-degree murder, on Thursday. He didn’t enter a plea, and was ordered to be held without bail.
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