The families of two of the four University of Idaho students found stabbed to death at an off-campus home are now preparing to sue the college over their brutal murders, it has been learned.
An attorney representing the families of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, filed the tort notice this month, leaving them open to a lawsuit within the next two years.
In the notice obtained by ABC News, the University of Idaho, Washington State University — the university where accused murderer Brian Kohberger was a student — defend their rights to sue the city of Moscow and the Idaho State Police.
No lawsuits have been filed at this stage and the notices do not specify what claims the families can make or the amount of damages they can seek.
Shannon Gray, a lawyer for the families, said the legal move serves nothing “other than to protect the interests of the families and victims going forward”.
“The filing of the tort claim notice is really just a safeguard,” he told ABC News.
“It is a safeguard to protect the interests of the families, the victims and indeed the whole community, because if something goes wrong, or is done improperly, then someone is held accountable.”
The notices, filed in early May, come as the man accused of murdering Goncalves, Mogen, Zana Kernodle, 20, and Etham Chapin, 20, appeared for court appearances.
Kohberger, a 28-year-old criminology PhD student, appeared in Lata County Court on Monday morning where he refused to enter a plea deal to four charges of first-degree murder and one charge of burglary.
Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffed, the accused killer showed no emotion as the judge read out the charges and the names of the four victims he is accused of violent murder.
When Mr. Kohberger was asked if he understood the charges, the maximum fine, and his rights in court, he spoke only to respond defensively and loudly, “yes” and “yes I do.”
His lawyer, Anne Taylor, told the court that he was “standing silent” on the allegations, leaving the judge to plead not guilty on his behalf.
Judge John Judge set Mr Kohberger’s trial date for October 2, 2023 and prosecutors now have 60 days to confirm whether they are seeking the death penalty.
Mr Kohberger was due to appear in court on June 26 for a week-long preliminary hearing where prosecutors will present the case and evidence against the suspect.
However, last week, a grand jury indicted Kohberger on the charges, paving the way for the case to proceed without a trial.
Mr Kohberger is accused of breaking into an off-campus student house on King Road in the early hours of 13 November and killing four students with a large, military-style knife.
Two other female roommates lived with the three women at the property and were at home at the time of the massacre but survived.
One of the survivors — Dylan Mortensen — came face-to-face with the masked killer, dressed head-to-toe in black and with bushy eyebrows, as he left the house after the murders, according to the criminal affidavit.
For more than six weeks, the college town of Moscow was gripped in fear as the accused killer remained at large with no arrests and no suspects named.
Then, on December 30, law enforcement suddenly raided Mr. Kohberger’s family home in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, and arrested him for the quadruple murders.
The motive is unknown and it is still unclear what connections the WSU PhD student had to University of Idaho students – if any – prior to the murders.
However, an affidavit released in January revealed that Mr. Kohberger’s DNA was found on a knife sheath left at the scene of the murder.
It was also learned that his white Hyundai Elantra was captured in surveillance footage close to the crime scene.
New details have since emerged of what was found during an initial search of his apartment and rental storage unit in Pullman.
Court documents show that two items found in his apartment — a mattress cover on the bed and an uncovered pillow — tested positive for blood.
The documents do not say whose blood it is.
Investigators also seized a string of other items from his home including possible human and animal hair strands, a disposable glove and a computer.
Meanwhile, the murder weapon – a fixed-blade knife – has never yet been found.
As a criminal justice PhD student at WSU, Mr. Kohberger lived just 15 minutes from the victims on the Idaho-Washington border in Pullman.
He had moved there from Pennsylvania and began his studies there that summer, completing his first semester before his arrest.
Prior to this, he studied criminology at DeSales University – first as an undergraduate and then completing his graduation in June 2022.
Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Zanna Kurnodl, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, took this photo together hours before they died
While there, she studied under renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, who interviewed the BTK serial killer and co-authored the book. Confessions of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer with them.
He also undertook a research project “to understand how emotions and psychological symptoms affect crime” when committing a crime.
He is facing life imprisonment or the death penalty for the murders that rocked the small college town of Moscow and made headlines around the world.