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Accused Idaho murderer Bryan Kohberger may have left knife sheath behind to mislead investigators: expert

Accused murderer Bryan Kohberger may have deliberately left a knife sheath found at the home where four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death in an attempt to mislead investigators, according to a criminal profiler.

“If you took a pistol out of your holster, wouldn’t you put it back in?” John Kelly, a psychotherapist who has interviewed serial killers, said on Fox News Tuesday. “I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t, and if I went fishing and had to take my knife out, I would put it back in the sheath.”

Kohberger, who was known to be obsessive over his strict vegan diet, likely hid the bloody knife somewhere it could not contaminate his clothes or his car, Kelly said. The murder weapon has still not been found months after the Nov. 13 killings.

“You’re such a clean vegan who’s obsessive-compulsive about what you eat and everything else, just the hygiene of carrying a bloody knife around, wearing it somewhere on your person as you get out of the house,” Kelly said. 

Kelly noted that one of the surviving roommates, Dylan Mortensen, did not mention a knife or other weapons when she said she encountered a masked “figure clad in black clothing,” with “bushy eyebrows” leaving the home through a sliding glass in the moments after the slayings, according to the affidavit.

Bryan Johberger mugshot

“The girl didn’t say anything about seeing a knife,” Kelly said. “Did he put it in his clothes somewhere and have blood all over?”

The sheath — which was found in bed with two of the four victims — could have been left behind purposefully after it was thoroughly wiped down, Kelly said. 

However, police did identify Kohberger’s DNA on the button strap of the sheath with DNA taken from trash at his parents’ house in Pennsylvania, where he was arrested in December, police said in the affidavit.

A police cruiser drives past the house where four University of Idaho students were murdered.
Kai Eiselein

Kelly believes Kohberger left the brown leather sheath, which has “Ka-Bar,” “USMC” and the United States Marine Corps eagle globe and anchor insignia, to point blame toward someone in the military.

“This is staging 101,” he told Fox. “They’re gonna look at this, and they’re gonna think it’s a military guy that did this. Some guy with some kind of training who lives up the road.”

“He may have thought this was the perfect ruse, again he’s no genius, his ruse and staging set him up to get caught,” Kelly added. 

His belief that he could misguide investigators could explain why Kohberger is rumored to have asked police, “Who else did you arrest,” when he was being taken into custody, according to Kelly.

“I think he had to believe that that was gonna lead them to somebody, some direction, with the sheath there,” he said.

Bryan Kohberger

Kohberger is accused of sneaking into the students’ off-campus rental home in Moscow around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13 and killing Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves,21, Ethan Chapin, 20, and Xana Kernodle, 20 while some of them were sleeping, according to police.

Kohberger, who was a criminal justice Ph.D. student at Washington State University  just 7 miles away from the murder scene, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and a felony burglary charge. 

If convicted, he could face life in prison.