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Idaho college murders: Home where students were killed to be demolished at end of semester

Daniel Ramirez/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(MOSCOW, Idaho) — The home where four Idaho college students were found slain last year will finally be torn down later this month, the University of Idaho announced Thursday.

Demolition is set to begin Dec. 28, as the school’s fall semester ends. It comes after the school had stayed the wrecking ball’s strike multiple times amid objections from some of the victims’ families. They had voiced concerns that tearing it down prematurely might destroy evidence for a later trial.

Now, the school said, their decision to tear down the house during winter break is being made “as an attempt to decrease further impact on the students who live in that area.”

“It is the grim reminder of the heinous act that took place there,” University of Idaho President Scott Green said in a statement Thursday. “While we appreciate the emotional connection some family members of the victims may have to this house, it is time for its removal and to allow the collective healing of our community to continue.”

The King Road home in Moscow, Idaho, was the site of a grisly quadruple homicide last November, where University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were found stabbed to death.

Prosecutors allege that in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2022, Bryan Kohberger, then 28, a criminology Ph.D. student at nearby Washington State University, broke into the home and committed the killings.

After a six-week hunt, police zeroed in on Kohberger as a suspect, tracking his white Hyundai Elantra and cellphone signal data, and recovering what authorities said was his DNA on the button snap of a KA-BAR knife sheath found by one of the victims’ bodies at the crime scene.

He was arrested on Dec. 30 and indicted in May, charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. At his arraignment, he declined to offer a plea, so the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

After the killings, the property owner donated the home to the school, which announced in February the site would be torn down as a “healing step” that “also removes efforts to further sensationalize the crime scene.”

Then, in July, the university announced a sudden halt to the high-profile demolition, saying it would pause plans for the house “until October” — which was, at that time, when Kohberger’s capital murder was set to start.

That pause came amid objections from some of the victims’ families who expressed concern that eliminating the home before Kohberger’s trial could cause unanticipated problems for prosecutors as they work to secure a guilty verdict.

“Ultimately, this shouldn’t matter from a legal perspective. But the university just handed the defense an issue that will be argued and litigated for years to come,” said ABC News legal contributor Matt Murphy, a former prosecutor in Orange County, California. “Out of respect for the victims, their families, as well as the due process rights of the defendant, they should have waited.”

Kohberger waived his right to a speedy trial in August — indefinitely delaying when proceedings would start. In early September, the university announced it would hold off on tearing the home down until at least the end of fall semester.

Ahead of demolition, Kohberger’s defense will be able to access the house, as they continue preparing their case for trial. No date has been set or the trial.

Kohberger’s defense has “indicated they want to take photographs, measurements and possibly gather drone footage of the house,” the university said.

Construction crews will begin tearing down the home in the early morning of Dec. 28, and may and take several days to completely clear the site. The school says King Road will be blocked off to traffic during demolition and debris removal.

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