January 24, 2023

Who Did His Applicant Interview at WSU?

Filed under: General — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:44 pm

It may surprise OpenCdA readers outside 10 counties of North Idaho to hear that we do occasionally get murders committed up here. Among those relatively few incidents, even fewer are multiple homicide incidents that will be charged and prosecuted as first-degree murder.

Consequently, many people here were genuinely shocked and surprised when we learned that on November 13, 2022, between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., University of Idaho students Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, Kaylee Goncalves, and Ethan Chapin had been stabbed to death while sleeping inside their home on Kings Road in Moscow (Latah County), Idaho. Two other residents of the house were unharmed.

Then on December 30, 2022, we learned that a suspect in the four homicides, Bryan Christopher Kohberger, age 28, had been arrested in Pennsylvania and would be extradited back to Moscow to be formally charged and tried for the murders.

Almost as shocking and surprising as the homicides themselves was the revelation that at the time Kohberger allegedly committed them, he was pursuing a PhD in Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University (WSU) and living in Pullman, Washington, about eight miles from Moscow. He was also a Teaching Assistant in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. Prior to enrolling at WSU, Kohberger had earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in criminal justice at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.  

The Idaho criminal justice system will deal appropriately with Kohberger in the continuing investigation and eventual trial. We’ll have to wait until the trial for some the answers relating to the crime itself.

However I believe there are some logical questions WSU System President Kirk Schulz should insist be answered immediately to see if there are any necessary improvements that can be made in the admissions and hiring processes for graduate students and faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

  • Who from WSU and from the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in particular personally interviewed Kohberger prior to his admission to the PhD program?
  • How had the interviewers prepared themselves to conduct this particular interview? Had they read all available records and writings (including social media) about and by Kohberger? Had they reviewed his employment, education, and criminal history?
  • Were Kohberger’s interviews conducted by WSU faculty or staff members with extensive and recent law enforcement, intelligence, counterintelligence, or other investigative career experience and expertise in interviewing and in detecting both deception and potentially disqualifying behavioral disorders?  
  • Were Kohberger’s interviewers professionally experienced in eliciting answers that might have revealed malevolent intent or at least raised questions about Kohberger’s suitability to be in a criminal justice career?  
  • Had any of Kohberger’s faculty interviewers ever worked in occupations in which they personally had the legal authority and obligation to determine if an interviewee should be involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation?  If not, why not?  
  • What were Kohberger’s career aspirations?  He already had an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in criminal justice from other institutions.  What was his stated purpose for seeking a PhD?  
  • Why did Kohberger decide to apply to the WSU graduate program in Criminal Justice and Criminology?  Had he applied to other universities’ programs already and been rejected?  If so, which programs rejected him and why?  If he applied only to WSU, why?   

Graduates pursuing any advanced degree from WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology may be employed in a wide range of occupations. In some occupations such as law enforcement, their duties and obligations will require them to make timely and accurate assessments of a person’s state of mind, particularly an assessment of whether the person being interviewed represents a danger to himself or others. It seems reasonable to require that the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology should be making that assessment of its applicants for its master’s and doctoral programs.

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