The sister of murdered University of Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves has shared her relief that a suspect is finally in custody.
Speaking out for the first time in an exclusive interview with NewsNation Sunday night, Alivea said she and her family felt ‘the weight of the world was lifted off our shoulders’ when they heard of Bryan Kohberger‘s arrest in Pennsylvania and read the damning evidence against him.
Kohberger, 28, is charged with the quadruple homicides of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, as well as her friends Xana Kernodle, 20, Ethan Chapin, 20, and Madison Mogen, 21, who were all found dead of stab wounds in their off-campus home.
An affidavit released on Thursday described how he allegedly stalked the victims for weeks before killing them, in a move that Alivea called ‘true evil.’
Kohberger now remains in the local jail after he was denied bail late last week. He faces the death penalty if he is found guilty of the brutal slayings.
Alivea Goncalves Stevnson, left, is the older sister of Kaylee Goncalves, center, one of the four University of Idaho students murdered in her off-campus housing on November 13. They are pictured with Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee’s best friend who was also killed
Alivea said in the interview Sunday night how her and her family had ‘presumed innocence’ until they read a damning affidavit released late last week, which details how police in Moscow, Idaho were able to track down Kohberger.
She told Senior National Correspondent Brian Entin how she now thinks Moscow Police have developed a solid case against the suspected killer.
‘I was able to kind of read that and process that, and then you not only have a name and a face, but the beginnings of a case against him,’ Alivea said.
She added: ‘The relief that we all felt at having a suspect in custody, it was like, I can’t even describe, it was like the weight of the world’s been lifted off our shoulders.’
But when reading the affidavit describing the days and weeks leading up to her sister’s untimely death, Alivea said she could not help but remember the text conversations she had with her sister that day and how normal everything seemed.
‘To be honest, think that was the hardest part of this was to sit back and look at the totality of this,’ she said.
‘When my sister was texting me about a new egg bites recipe, he was planning his next visit to the home, and that’s really difficult.
‘It’s really difficult not to do more, not to have known more, but it’s just the first step. A lot more evidence will come out, and I’m confident Moscow Police Department [and] Idaho State Police have the right person, and I thank them from the very bottom of my heart.
Alivea continued to say that neither she nor Kaylee had any idea that ‘true evil was genuinely watching them’ as Kohberger allegedly returned to the house at least 12 times leading up to the slaying.
He would then return to the home just hours after the four University of Idaho students were killed, suggesting to Alivea that he wanted to return to the scene to see if a ‘circus’ had developed yet.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, has been arrested in connection with the quadruple homicide
Alivea asked viewers to continue sharing their tips linking Kohberger to the victims
Based on that information, Alivea suggested Kohberger may have been contributing on online forums speculating about the quadruple homicide.
‘I don’t think that he would have been able to refrain from engaging with the online community,’ she said, as she asked Internet sleuths to continue sending her information connecting Kohberger, who was studying criminology at the University of Washington, to the four University of Idaho students.
Alivea added: ‘It’s really difficult not to wish you could’ve done more.’
But now, Alivea said, her family would like to set up a foundation in Kaylee and her best friend Maddie’s name. She seemed close with both of them, as they both appeared in her wedding.
Alivea said she could remember what she and her sister were texting each other about when Bryan Kohberger allegedly stalked her. The sisters are pictured here in 2010
The affidavit released last week recounts in brutal detail the moments Moscow Police Officer Brett Payne entered the home on King Road and found the four college students brutally stabbed to death.
He goes onto describe how the Moscow Police tracked down Kohberger, who lived eight miles from the murder scene, and drove the white Hyundai Elantra cops were looking to trace.
With the help of genetic genealogy, cell phone data, CCTV footage, and evidence left at the crime scene, they were able to hunt down their suspect and charge him with the quadruple murder.
Kohberger was ultimately arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police at a home in Albrightsville, a small town in the heart of the Poconos Mountains on December 30 — more than 2,000 miles from where the gruesome killings took place.
Authorities say that following the November 13 murders, Kohberger and his father, Michael, drove 2,500 miles in a white Hyundai Elantra from Idaho to Pennsylvania.
Kohberger is accused of murdering Maddie Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin on November 13 in the quiet, college town of Moscow, Idaho
On November 29, police obtained surveillance footage from the parking lot of Kohberger’s apartment building, some 10 miles from the murder scene, in Pullman, Washington State.
Moscow Police officers visited the parking lot to obtain a license plate for the vehicle – as it matched the description of the car they saw on footage the night the students were killed.
They ran a search, and found multiple incidents in which the car and its owner – Bryan Kohberger – had been pulled over multiple times in the past.
With Kohberger’s name, police honed in on him and reviewed historic surveillance camera footage, along with phone records, going back several months.
Then following their initial suspicions, Kohberger was pulled over over twice as he passed through Indiana on December 15 – once for speeding and the other for following a car ahead too closely.
Cellphone tower data also seemed to link him to the crime scene – as well as a single male DNA left on a knife sheath next to two of the dead victims at the home in Moscow, Idaho.
Former friends of Kohberger’s have since detailed how he was bullied and dropped 100 pounds in his senior year of high school before taking up hard drugs.
Casey Arntz, who was friends with Kohberger, has revealed what he was like at school
Kohberger lost 100 pounds in high school, and was previously bullied, according to his former friends
Two of his high school friends, Casey Arntz and Bree, who asked to have her last name kept private, said Kohberger shed nearly 100 pounds in his senior year after being the brunt of his classmates’ jokes – which was when people noticed a switch in him.
Arntz told CBS’ 48 Hours: ‘He was rail thin. It was after that weight loss that a lot of people noticed a huge switch.’
After losing the weight, it was Kohberger who started bullying Arntz’ brother – putting him in chokeholds and getting physically aggressive with him.
Bree said that ‘self-destructive’ Kohberger started also using heroin. She added: ‘You just saw him becoming more self-destructive. He really stayed secluded.’
In the years after high school, the suspect seemed to be getting his life back on track, and would tell Bree that he was ‘going to be better.’
She revealed: ‘He was telling me that he wanted to get sober, that he was getting sober. And he wanted to let me know, ‘I’m gonna do better. I’m gonna be better.”
Bree (pictured) said that ‘self-destructive’ Kohberger started also using heroin. She added: ‘You just saw him becoming more self-destructive. He really stayed secluded’
Kohberger is pictured smiling in court on January 5, 2022 after being denied bail
Alivea Goncalves told News Nation about the relief she and her family felt at having a suspect in custody in an interview Sunday night
Both of the women last saw Kohberger at a friend’s wedding in 2017 – where they said he looked ‘good’ and seemed to have a new lease of life.
Arntz said: ‘I gave him a hug and I said, ‘You look so good. I’m so proud of you.”
And Bree said that his new focus on his criminology studies: ‘His goal was just to change the world for the good around him. He wanted to do something that impacted people in a good way.
‘People were not his strong suit. she added, ‘And I think through his criminology studies, he was really trying to understand humans and trying and understand himself.’
Speaking about Kohberger allegedly being the Idaho killer, Arntz said: ‘I honestly think he did it because he wants to see if he can get away with it. Where did it go wrong? What happened…why didn’t I see it?’