“One of my best students”: Bryan Kohberger’s former criminology professor says Idaho murder suspect was ‘brilliant’ in college

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Criminal profilers have speculated upon Kohberger's motives behind pursuing a criminology degree (Images via Bryan Kohberger/Angela Palermo/MCT/Philadelphia Inquirer)

On December 30, 2022, 28-year-old criminology graduate Bryan Kohberger was arrested on suspicion of murdering four University of Idaho students in Moscow, Idaho.

As the investigation into the November 13 massacre continues, many people who knew the suspect have spoken out, including a former professor.

In an interview with reporters, 33-year-old Michelle Bolger, an associate professor at DeSales University, spoke out about her experience teaching Bryan Kohberger when he was still a Masters student:

“In my 10 years of teaching, I’ve only recommended two students to a PhD program and he was one of them. He was one of my best students, ever. Everyone is in shock over this."

The New York Post reported that at the time of his arrest, Bryan Kohberger was pursuing a PhD in criminology at Washington State University.

Did Bryan Kohberger study criminology to become a better criminal?

According to Meauwww, criminal profiler Enzo Yaksic speculated that Bryan Kohberger may have studied criminology as a way to explore his alleged homicidal tendencies.

“I suspect that Kohberger was well aware of his dark nature and homicidal ideation and endeavored to discover more about himself through his studies."

Yaksic added that if this was indeed Kohberger's intention, then a degree would not have helped him in any substantial way.

"But pursuing an advanced degree to become a better murderer is a foolhardy exercise as nothing more is learned about such tactics and strategies than can be found on a popular podcast or true crime book."

Bolger said, however, that purely based on her interactions, she had not noticed anything particularly suspicious about Kohberger's intentions when he was her student. She said:

“He seemed normal to me, but then again, I only knew him from teaching him online. I didn’t know anything personal about him. I believe he worked full time like most of our graduate students do."

During the course of the investigation, it was noted that Kohberger had an online presence which included posting questionnaires related to criminology. One post read:

“(My) Name is Bryan, and I am inviting you to participate in a research project that seeks to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime."

Bolger noted that while Kohberger would post online questionnaires on online forums about crimes, this was nothing unusual.

"I was one of the professors who helped Bryan with his proposal on his graduate thesis, his capstone project. He did put out a routine questionnaire for his thesis. It looks weird, I understand from the public view. But in criminology it’s normal."

She further added:

“It’s a criminology theory called script theory, it’s a normal theory on how and why criminals commit their crime, etc."

Kohberger is currently under police custody in Pennsylvania, awaiting extradition to Idaho for judicial proceedings.

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Edited by Abhipsa Choudhury