A University of Idaho student stabbed to death in her sleep may have called her ex-boyfriend on the night of her murder to rekindle their relationship, her family believes.
Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were killed during a 13 November attack in the small college town of Moscow. The murders gripped the nation and a secretive investigation by the FBI, Moscow Police, and Idaho State Police eventually materialised into the 30 December arrest of Washington State University PhD criminology student Bryan Kohberger.
Goncalves’ family has now shed new light on why she might have been calling her ex-boyfriend Jack DuCoeur in the hours before she was brutally attacked. In a sit-down interview with the YouTube channel Chronicles of Olivia — filmed two days before Mr Kohberger’s arrest– the Goncalves said their daughter broke up with Mr DuCoeur ahead of her post-graduation move to Texas, but had later voiced concerns that she “might not ever find another Jack” and was considering getting back together with him.
Kaylee’s father Steve Goncalves said that the couple had remained friends and the slain student was looking “for every excuse for [Mr DuCoeur] to pick up the phone.” The family noted that they were not just blindly sticking up for Mr DuCoeur, and that they had done their due diligence by looking out for scratches on his body, and potential evidence on his shoes and inside his car.
“Even logically, I think a lot of people assume that we’re blinded by this individual but contrary to that, we’re very capable of removing our emotions for Jack —which is absolute love — and just looking at the situation logically,” Alivea Goncalves, Goncalves’ sister, said on the interview released on Friday. “Looking at this individual logically, looking at a pattern of behaviours of him that we have seen throughout five, six years … In our hearts and in our heads and in every sense of the word, it’s just not [plausible that he committed the crime].”
Mr DuCoeur was never considered a suspect in the quadruple murder, but was targeted by online armchair detectives baselessly linking him to the crimes before an arrest was made last month.
Speaking to the New York Post in December, Mr DuCoeur’s aunt Brooke Miller said the rampant speculation has deeply affected the 22-year-old, who is already experiencing a great deal of loss.
“They’re just the most ridiculous conspiracies … He’s not only lost the love of his life, and what we all thought and he probably thought as well, would be his future wife — you know, get married and have kids and all of that,” Ms Miller said.
Among other bittersweet revelations made in the YouTube interview with Chronicles of Olivia was that Goncalves had taken summer classes to graduate ahead of time.
“It’s almost like she knew she only had a certain amount of time on this planet and she was rushing towards [her goals],” Mr Goncalves said.
The family also spoke of the sheer fear and devastation they experienced after finding out that Kaylee was killed through a family member with connections in Moscow. They first tried to get in touch with both Goncalves and Mogen – to no avail.
When they attempted to call police in the immediate hours after the bodies were found, the family was told no information could be released at the time.
An officer eventually showed up at the door to officially inform them that their daughter had been killed.
“I kept giving [my parents] hope,” Alivea Gonclaves said. “I kept saying ‘If they were killed last night, you guys would know by now.’ I kept giving them hope.”
According to the family, they reached out to the YouTube channel because Kaylee followed it on TikTok and would often watch videos on the true crime account.
Goncalves’ parents also told NBC’s Dateline that the 21-year-old had recently left the student rental property on King Road, Moscow, ahead of her upcoming graduation that December and a move to Austin, Texas, for a new job at a tech firm.
Then, on the weekend of 12 November, she decided to go back to the college town to visit her best friend Madison Mogen.
The two young women had been inseparable since meeting in the sixth grade and Goncalves wanted to show Mogen her new Range Rover that she had saved up for and bought.
DNA found on the sheath was matched to suspect Bryan Kohberger, who is now facing a potential death penalty for the quadruple homicide that has rocked the small college town.
The motive for the murders is unknown and it remains unclear why Mr Kohberger may have allegedly targeted the victims, with no known connection between the four students and the suspect.
Now, the families of the victims will have to wait at least another six months before they can get more answers about their children’s murders, after his next court date was delayed until June.
Mr Kohberger appeared in Latah County Courthouse for his status hearing on Thursday where he waived his right to a speedy trial. The judge scheduled the preliminary hearing for the week beginning 26 June.
The entire week has been set aside for the hearing – when evidence of the case against Mr Kohberger will be laid out for the first time in court and he is likely to enter a plea on the charges.
His request for a delay before the next court appearance came after the defence asked the prosecution to hand over all discovery in the case in the next 14 days – including witness statements, digital media and police reports.
Until then, Mr Kohberger will be held behind bars at Latah County Jail after he was ordered to be held on no bail for a second time.
As well as the DNA evidence found at the scene, the suspect was also tracked down through cellphone data and his white Hyundai Elantra, which was spotted at the crime scene at the time of the murders.
Cellphone data suggests that Mr Kohberger stalked the student home at least 12 times in the run-up to the night of the murders, according to the affidavit. The exact dates and times of these instances were not revealed in the affidavit but all bar one were in the late evening or early morning hours.
Data places him close to the home on King Road at around 9am on 13 November – suggesting that he returned to the scene of the crime just hours after allegedly murdering the four victims at around 4am.
One of the victims’ surviving roommates was also able to partially describe the killer to investigators after she came face to face with him in the aftermath of the murders in the early hours of 13 November.
As a criminal justice PhD student at Washington State University, Mr Kohberger lived just 15 minutes from the victims over the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman.
He had moved there from Pennsylvania to begin his studies in August and has just completed his first semester.
Before this, he studied criminology at DeSales University – first as an undergraduate and then finishing his graduate studies in June 2022.
While there, he studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-wrote the book Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with him.
He also carried out a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime”.
On 30 December, he was arrested in an early-morning raid on his family home in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where he had gone to spend the holidays.
He was extradited back to Idaho and his white Hyundai Elantra was seized by investigators.
The murder weapon – a fixed-blade knife – is yet to be found.
If convicted, he faces life in prison or the death penalty for the murders that have rocked the small college town of Moscow and hit headlines around the globe.