Did accused University of Idaho slayer Bryan Kohberger use his criminology background in an attempt to plan the “perfect crime”? A former professor says it’s entirely plausible.
In an interview with the U.K. Daily Mail, DeSales University professor Michelle Bolger said that Kohberger , a Washington State University Ph.D. student accused in the brutal murder of four students on Nov. 13, was “one of my best students — ever.”
While Bolger only taught Kohberger online and never met him in person, she said he was a “great writer” and a “brilliant student,” a description that, if Kohberger is guilty, could be key to unraveling the story behind the crime.
“In my 10 years of teaching, I’ve only recommended two students to a Ph.D. program, and he was one of them. He was one of my best students — ever. Everyone is in shock over this,” she said.
“I never saw him in person. I couldn’t tell you how tall he was or how much he weighed. My only interaction with him was via email and Zoom. I didn’t know anything about him, whether he was married, had a girlfriend, etc.”
Kohberger earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from DeSales, a Catholic university in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, in spring of 2020, according to NBC News.
Kohlberger told the Daily Mail that while the situation seemed unbelievable to her, the idea that he could have used his education in executing the crime made sense.
“I’m shocked as s*** at what he’s been accused of. I don’t believe it, but I get it,” Bolger told the Daily Mail. “This news is upsetting. I haven’t slept at all since hearing about Bryan.”
Kohberger was arrested by a SWAT team in the early morning hours of Friday in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, according to the New York Post. He’s accused in the shocking murders of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin at an off-campus house near the University of Idaho.
Kohberger had just finished his first term as a Ph.D student at Washington State University in Pullman, about 15 miles from the University of Idaho across the state border.
Authorities say Kohberger‘s white Hyundai Elantra matched the description of a car they were searching for and that his DNA was matched to samples recovered at the crime scene.
In addition, the media began focusing on a post that Kohberger had made in a Reddit group for former prisoners asking for participation in a criminology survey about behavior before and during a crime.
However, Bolger said that the survey, which was part of Kohberger’s graduate thesis, was completely routine.
“I was one of the professors who helped Bryan with his proposal on his graduate thesis, his capstone project,” she said, the Daily Mail reported.
“He did put out a routine questionnaire for his thesis. It looks weird, I understand, from the public view. But in criminology it’s normal.
“It’s a criminology theory called script theory. It’s a normal theory on how and why criminals commit their crime, etc.,” Bolger added.
She said nothing stood out in her interactions with the accused murderer to lead her to believe he would have committed the crimes.
“He seemed normal to me, but then again, I only knew him from teaching him online. I didn’t know anything personal about him. I believe he worked full time like most of our graduate students do,” Bolger said.
Bolger’s description of the accused killer fits in with a similar description by classmate Benjamin Roberts, who described Kohberger as someone who “had to make absolutely sure you knew he was smart; he had this intellectual capacity.”
“I did notice he was showing up to class a little late sometimes, he always had a coffee in hand, he always seemed to be just perpetually exhausted,” Roberts told NewsNation.
“Bryan seemed like he was on the knife’s edge between exhaustion and worn out and at the time it was extremely difficult to tell which was which.”
However, after the murders — which became national news and rocked the small college communities in the area — Kohberger “did seem to get a little chattier going into the later parts of the term,” Robert said.
So, was Kohberger a modern-day Leopold or Loeb, determined to prove his intelligence by pulling off a perfect killing only to get caught?
#BREAKING: Idaho murders arrest mugshot released.
Bryan Christopher Kohberger pic.twitter.com/9wfx6rPqbx
— JB Biunno #HeyJB (@WFLAJB) December 30, 2022
Kohberger’s former professor, at the very least, is willing to entertain the theory, saying she “get[s] it.”
The public will have to wait to see if they believe Kohberger viewed taking lives as a mere academic exercise.
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