Last week, police in Moscow, Idaho, shared an 18-page affidavit outlining how their investigation led them to believe a 28-year-old man was responsible for the killings of four college students.
In addition to surveillance footage of Bryan Kohberger’s car and cellphone records placing him at the scene on Nov. 13, police revealed a stunning detail: A surviving roommate of the victims came face-to-face with the alleged killer. There is no evidence that he saw her — only that the man, dressed in black with a mask covering his mouth and nose, walked past her while she stood in a "frozen shock phase.” He was close enough that she could see his “bushy eyebrows” and describe his build. She saw him walk toward the home’s back sliding glass door and then locked herself in her room. A latent shoe print discovered later by police confirmed her account. Police determined that the killer had left the house by 4:25 a.m. — but a 911 call summoning police to the house was not placed until noon.
This seven-and-a-half-hour gap and other details provided by the roommate — that she’d been awakened and had opened her door three times to check on noises she’d heard, including her roommate crying — are undeniably strange. People on social media pounced. Hundreds, if not thousands, of TikTokers, YouTubers, redditors, and Facebook and Twitter users responded with shocking vitriol, calling her behavior “suspicious” and accusing her of somehow being complicit in her roommates’ deaths because she did not immediately check on them or call for help.
It was just the latest round of hate that she and another surviving roommate have experienced. Before Kohberger’s arrest, while no suspect had been publicly identified, the roommates had been subjected to repeated harassment and doxxing by people who said they killed their friends. Moscow police said they had been cleared of suspicion — then repeated that message multiple times as the harassment continued.
The wave of criticism based on the newly released affidavit has been compounded by inaccurate claims that the roommate, identified as DM, ignored screams (not mentioned in the affidavit) or was posting on social media during the time of the killings. This was also debunked by at least one TikToker who pointed out that the pictures she posted at 12:33 a.m. Pacific Time had a 3:33 a.m. timestamp for people in Eastern Time — still earlier than the time of the killings.
It also hasn’t helped that “enhanced” audio purporting to be from a neighbor’s security camera is spreading like wildfire on social media platforms. It’s a terrifying listen — but it is fake. It’s based on original audio of a domestic violence incident, which a user posted as an example of what an outside camera can pick up.
But others are pushing back on the cruel comments, faulty information, and Monday-morning quarterbacking. “Imagine being more scrutinous and angry at a college girl who survived a psychopath in her home killing her friends and roommates, than the actual psychopath who killed her friends and roommates,” one person tweeted.
Others have offered potential explanations for the roommate’s inaction, saying that although she was shocked at first, she likely rationalized what she heard and saw because it was common for visitors to be in their “party house.” “People STILL talking about why DM didn’t call the police on the Idaho murder,” one person said on Twitter. “Why would she? She saw a guy she didn’t know leaving a shared house. No screams. She heard a girl crying but one of the housemates had her bf there. Who calls the police on a crying roommate?”
Experts told NBC News that her “frozen shock phase” could have been a result of acute trauma, and she might not have called police because she disassociated or experienced a type of paralysis that lasted for hours. A Reddit post with hundreds of upvotes and supportive comments acknowledges people’s confusion about her actions, but regardless of what we know about her and her experience that night — which isn’t much — she deserves empathy. “We don't have a baseline from which to judge her reactions,” they said.
On TikTok, a woman who describes herself as a licensed clinical psychologist begged people to be more sensitive and withhold judgment, adding the roommate likely experienced different degrees of the “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” response. Her post has more than 98,000 likes.
Even the family of one of the victims defended the roommate.
An attorney representing Kaylee Goncalves's family told Fox News on Saturday that the roommate was likely “scared to death" and "is still a victim in this case."
"And the fact that she was able to give some additional identification I think is beneficial in this case,” he said. “She was able to give kind of type and build and what [the suspect] looked like a little bit — bushy eyebrows, things along those lines."
The next day, Alivea Goncalves, Kaylee’s sister, told NewsNation that the roommate “is really young, and she was probably really, really scared. And until we have any more information, I think everyone should stop passing judgments because you don't know what you would do in that situation.”
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