One of the Idaho students butchered in November in the quadruple murder had recently moved out of the home where the killings took place, only to return the day before to be killed along with her three friends. Kaylee Goncalves had come back to meet her roommate and attended a party a day before she and her friends were murdered, her parents have said.
Goncalves, 21, and her friends Xana Kernodle, 20, her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, and Madison Mogen, 21 were allegedly stabbed to death in their off-campus Idaho home on November 13. Police took more than six weeks to arrest suspect Brian Kohberger but are yet to reveal the motive behind the murders.
Unlucky to Return
Goncalves' parents, Kristi and Steve, told Dateline that the 21-year-old was planning to finish college early and had an IT job waiting for her in Austin, Texas. She and her best friend Madison Mogen had only recently left the three-story house they had shared in Moscow, Idaho.
"These girls were best friends since sixth grade, like inseparable," Kristi Goncalves said. "Maddie had been a huge part of our life."
Goncalves had recently bought a new Range Rover, her devastated parents said. She wanted to show it off to Mogen in Moscow. She also had plans of attending a party nearby. "That was the last time that I saw Kaylee," her mother said.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, a doctoral candidate in criminology at the adjacent Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, was detained in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, on December 30, and when he was sent back to Idaho, he was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
He potentially faces the death penalty.
Her parents believe that had Goncalves not returned to the off-campus home to see her friend and attend the party, she may not have died.
Grief of Losing
According to a police affidavit that was unsealed earlier this month, a Ka-Bar knife sheath believed to have been used in the attack was found close to Goncalves and Mogen's bodies. The DNA Kohberger left on the sheath's button was used to identify him as a suspect.
The Goncalves family told Dateline's Keith Morrison that they hoped their daughter had taken the sheath during the struggle with the attacker and helped find her killer.
"I just said, 'Can you believe that?'" Kristi Goncalves said, recounting reading the report's details. "And I said, 'I hope that maybe a struggle, she pulled it off him, in the struggle or whatever...'"
Kaylee's father Steve was teary-eyed as he said: "Yeah, it's a checkmate type moment. And our girls were a part of it."
The grieving parents, who have been vocal throughout the investigation, made it a point to travel the 100 miles from their home to the courtroom and take a seat next to the man they suspected was responsible for their daughter's death.
Morrison was told by Kristi Goncalves what it was like to watch the suspected murderer in court.
"He looked scared, as he should be," she said. "If he is indeed the person, I feel that no mercy should be given to him."
Kohberger will return to court in Moscow on June 26 - six months from now - for a preliminary hearing. Although Kohberger has not yet entered a plea, his lawyers earlier claimed that he denied carrying out the murders. Kohberger has only so far appeared before magistrate court judges in Idaho.
The case will be transferred to the district division, which is reserved for more serious charges if it proceeds to trial, which is expected to happen.
Whether there is sufficient evidence for the case to move forward to the division court will be decided at the hearing in June. After that, Kohberger will be asked to make a decision.
The parents of Kaylee Goncalves have stated that they 'would forgive him' but favor the death penalty for their daughter's alleged killer.