The parents of convicted killer Bryan Kohberger have been called to testify before a grand jury in Pennsylvania in the case of a woman found dead a year after going missing. The family of the missing Pennsylvania woman notified the police after learning from online sleuths that Kohberger, the suspect in the Idaho killings, lived nearby.
Dana Smithers, 45, went missing on May 28, 2022. Her bones were uncovered on April 27 in a rural area in Stroudsburg about 30 miles from Kohberger's family home in Albrightsville. This has given a dramatic new twist to the horrifying case of the four University of Idaho students who were butchered in an off-campus home.
Who Is Dana Smithers
Smithers was last seen leaving a friend's house in Monroe County, where Kohberger previously resided before traveling across the nation to seek a doctorate at Washington State University.
His parents have now been called to testify in front of a grand jury after internet sleuths informed Smithers' family that Kohberger lived nearby where she went missing. Michael and Maryann will appear before the jury as investigators determine if their son was involved in the case.
Smithers' sister, Stacey Anne, thanked everyone who had been "reaching out recently regarding the possibility that the suspect in the horrific murders in Idaho had been in our area around the time of my sister, Dana's disappearance" in a post on her Facebook page, "Finding Dana," on January 2.
"I have forwarded all of your suggestions to local law enforcement. Please pray for everyone involved," Anne added.
According to a person familiar with the case, Kohberger has a strong alibi and is not believed to be responsible for Smithers' death, according to local outlet Eyewitness News WBRE/WYOU.
The investigation is still ongoing, though.
Smithers' remains were found on April 27 in a wooded area in Stroudsburg, and the body was identified using dental records. At that time, the county coroner still hadn't identified a cause of death.
New Twist in the Tale
Kohberger, 28, was charged with the murders of the University of Idaho students Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21 years old, and young couple Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, both 20 years old. on November 13 of last year.
Maryann has already testified in court, and Michael is scheduled to do so on Thursday.
The transcripts from the private meeting can be transferred to Idaho, where their son's trial is scheduled to begin on October 2.
On Monday, Kohberger appeared up in a courthouse in Idaho. He declined to enter a plea to four counts of first-degree murder.
The alleged murderer remained silent when asked how he pleaded to a five-count indictment, and as a result, a not-guilty plea was entered on behalf of Kohberger to four charges of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary.
The PHD candidate from Washington State University has been detained since December 30, when authorities searched his parents' Pennsylvania home.
On January 4, he was moved to the Latah County Jail, where he has stayed ever since.
The criminology major is believed to have planned the murders of the four students with a probable cause affidavit mentioning that he had frequently visited the area near the four Idaho students' homes before the killings.
His DNA was found on a KA-BAR knife sheath that was uncovered adjacent to Kaylee and Madison's bodies. Goncalves and Mogen were found dead in their beds next to each other while Chapin and Kernodle were found on the floor below.
Kernodle was found slumped over on the floor of her bedroom.
The affidavit states that survivors Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke heard something of what transpired. Mortensen reportedly told police that at around 4 am, she overheard Goncalves say, "There's someone here."
She heard a thump and crying coming from Kernodle's room ten minutes later, along with a male voice saying, "I'm going to help you."
A short while later, Mortensen said, she opened the door to her bedroom and saw a tall man exiting the house through the sliding glass doors in the backyard. She recalled being "frozen in shock" as the suspect approached her. Mortensen claimed that when he left, she locked herself in her room.
According to the affidavit, Kohberger's white Hyundai Elantra was spotted on camera close to the incident before being seen speeding away from the house and toward Pullman at around 4.20 a.m.
Police soon identified Kohberger's car and noticed that he matched Mortensen's description of the burglar at the rental property in terms of appearance.