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Bryan Kohberger trial: Mother of Idaho murder victim fights to keep King Road house intact

As the University of Idaho prepares to knock down the rental home where four students were murdered last year, one of the victim’s mothers is fighting to keep it standing until the suspect goes to trial.

Experts have told Fox News Digital that the university’s bid to demolish the building is a decision that prioritizes the school’s aim to “move on” above the potential impact a firsthand look at the crime scene could have on jurors in the case against suspect Bryan Kohberger.

Cara Northington, whose 20-year-old daughter Xana Kernodle was stabbed to death alongside three friends in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2022, shared a Change.org petition Sunday. 


“My daughter was murdered in that house, and there is no way they should be destroying any evidence,” she wrote in the comments.

The demolition is set to begin on Dec. 28, less than a year after Kohberger’s arrest.

Tearing down the house before jurors have a chance to walk through it “could potentially hinder a fair path to justice,” according to the petition organizer. 

Utility workers inspect the house where four University of Idaho students were fatally stabbed in Moscow, Idaho

“It’s critical that all evidence remains intact until after his trial concludes,” he wrote.

Police arrested Kohberger on Dec. 30, weeks after the murders, after he took a cross-country road trip with his dad back to his family home in Pennsylvania. At the time of the slayings, he was studying for a Ph.D. in criminology at Washington State University, about a 10-mile drive from the King Road house.

Kohberger allegedly entered the three-story house around 4 a.m.

On the upper level, he is accused of stabbing Kaylee Goncalves and Maddie Mogen, 21-year-old best friends who were both found in the latter’s bedroom, along with a Ka-Bar knife sheath the prosecutors allege had Kohberger’s DNA on the snap.

Idaho victims last photo

On the second level, he is accused of killing Kernodle and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, also 20.

A surviving housemate overheard sounds of the struggle from her second-floor bedroom and told police she froze in shock as she saw a masked man with “bushy” eyebrows who left through the rear sliding door. Another survivor was on the building’s lowest level.


The landlord donated the property to the University of Idaho earlier this year, and the school announced plans to raze it and build a memorial garden, which, according to Chapin’s family, is being designed by UI architecture students.


“I don’t see why the house needs to be demolished before the trial,” said Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I understand the school wants to ‘move on,’ but walking the jury through the crime scene when you have it is important to give them a perspective that photos just can’t do.”

The FBI and defense investigators have returned to the house multiple times to take pictures and map the layout, but experts say pictures and videos may not have the same effect on jurors.

The house where four University of Idaho students were fatally stabbed is cordoned off in Moscow, Idaho

“Being able to visit the crime scene in certain cases is extremely important,” said Edwina Elcox, a Boise-based defense attorney whose clients have included Idaho’s “cult mom” killer Lori Vallow. “Video and pictures can help, but may not accurately depict the scene in the way an in-person visit can do. The house should be preserved until the trial concludes or Kohberger pleads guilty.”

Kohberger’s trial had initially been scheduled for October, but he waived his right to speedy proceedings and has focused on challenging the indictment and DNA evidence instead. 

Goncalves’ family, in a Facebook post, lamented the decision to tear down the building and said Dec. 28 would be “a very sad day.”

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