Cyber Sleuths: The Idaho Murders and the TikTok Investigation

cyber sleuths

In an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, college students Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves were brutally murdered on November 13, 2022 around 4 am. The Moscow Police Department, the Latah County Sheriff’s Office, and the Idaho State Police have all been involved in the case but cyber sleuths are utilizing the latest in technology in the vacuum created by what they consider a lack of leads.

On December 30, 2022 in his parent’s kitchen in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Bryan Kohberger was separating trash and for some odd reason, he was placing it into plastic baggies. He was wearing gloves, which would imply that he was trying to keep his hands from getting dirty or to keep his fingerprints off of evidence. That’s when FBI SWAT busted through the doors and arrested him.

He had been under their radar for quite some time beginning with multiple tips of a certain type of car, a 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Elantra. After examining video, investigators found a specific Elantra that had been in the area and that had passed the Moscow residence a number of times. That car belonged to Bryan and the eyes of the invesigation turned its focus on him, his phone records, his suspicious activities, and finally a partial match of his DNA.

The phone records have him pinging off of towers near the Moscow residence around the time of the vicious stabbings. Observations record him wearing surgical gloves while carrying plastic baggies filled with trash to a neighbor’s garbage bin outside his parent’s home. Byan’s DNA found on that trash is a familial match to DNA found on a knife sheath at the crime scene.

cyber sleuths
via Paramount+

Is Bryan Kohberger an open and shut case?

Cyber sleuths have picked up the slack they feel exists because they don’t see Bryan as a solid lead. So, they have taken it upon themselves to look over police statements and reports while also diving deep into digital clues such as videos taken of the victims. They’ve also visited Moscow, talked to family members of the victims, voiced their theories, and named their own potential suspects. This activity has investigators and prosecutors concerned while Lucie Jourdan is bringing those concerns to light in her documentary #Cybersleuths: The Idaho Murders.

When these amateur cyber sleuths name their own suspects, it has led to dangerous consequences such as cyberbullying. The documentary first started out pro of these unofficial investigations because some small town police departments aren’t as tech savvy as the kids on TikTok. But her findings began to point her documentary in a different direction and it became more of a warning that haphazardly calling out names online can create more chaos than good.

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#Cybersleuths: The Idaho Murders is streaming now on Paramount+.