BOISE, Idaho — A grieving father reflects on the week he began getting answers. Steve Goncalves' daughter, Kaylee, was taken from him nearly two months ago. The man accused of murdering the four students was arrested in Pennsylvania and flown to Idaho this week.
Goncalves sat down with KTVB's Morgan Romero to discuss his daughter, family, friends and thoughts about the arrest of a suspect.
"I feel relief. It was nearly seven weeks of absolutely no clear guidance that we were on the right track," Goncalves said. "We knew there was evidence but all that can mean nothing until you have a face and a person or personality to put it towards."
Investigators say she was killed in the same bed as her best friend, Madison Mogen, in a house just off the University of Idaho campus on Nov. 13, 2022.
Downstairs, their roommate Xana Kernodle and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin were also stabbed to death.
A 28-year-old Washington State University PhD student, Bryan Kohberger, faces four counts of first-degree murder, and one burglary charge for going into 1122 King Road in Moscow, with the intent to commit murder.
A detailed probable cause affidavit (PCA) was also released Thursday, laying out why investigators think he is the one who killed the four students.
As Kohberger sits in the Latah County Jail without bail, Goncalves said he’s breathing a small sigh of relief.
“I miss what she meant to the family," Goncalves said.
21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves leaves a big void in her family.
“Holidays, she was the one who wanted to do the gingerbread houses and pushed it. She knew to make memories, you've got to do this type of thing. We'll miss that gift that she brought to us every single day, and she was a little ornery too. So, we'll miss that as well,” Goncalves said.
Kaylee’s father smiled as he reflected on her love of country music and concerts. Also, her love of her best friend Madison Mogen, whom she grew up alongside, and died alongside.
“I just read a letter where Maddie wrote to Kaylee talking about their friendship and it was powerful. They were beyond sisters, because sisters are kind of forced to get along, these two, they weren't forced,” Goncalves said.
“They were just like yin and yang,” he said.
Goncalves also thinks about the other two lives that were taken.
“I'm here for my daughter and Maddie but there's two other people that are just as important,” Goncalves said.
He said that he just didn't want the story to die. So he kept trying to get everyone involved that he possibly could, and kept talking about his daughter to build the momentum.
When police announced they arrested a man they think took the students’ lives, that momentum increased.
“It took forever for me," Goncalves said.
“If there was ever a team, a dream team to solve a crime and put it together correctly, we got them," Goncalves said.
He said he felt relief after waiting seven weeks for some kind of answer.
An unusually detailed, and long, PCA was released Thursday. It lays out DNA, cell phone records and video surveillance that investigators said will link Kohberger to the crime scene.
Investigators say they found a knife sheath next to Maddie’s body and the sheath had DNA matching Kohberger’s father’s DNA.
“It was worth the wait and they had a lot of evidence to show for it. We're on the right track and there's still a long way to go, but it feels good. It feels good to be where we are right now,” Goncalves said.
The affidavit also said Kohberger’s phone pinged near the girls’ home on King Road in Moscow at least 12 times in the months leading up to the murders.
“He was close enough that he was touching their wi-fi," Goncalves said.
However, the public still hasn’t heard the defense’s side in the case. Kohberger is presumed innocent at this point, and he has a right to a fair trial.
Goncalves said that when he saw Kohberger in court that he looked like a man who perhaps knew that he had been caught and that the evidence against him was very damning.
"I saw a man who looked defeated in his body language, looked like somebody in shock and dismay. I think he knows how much he has to go against and the reality of it is setting in,” Goncalves said.
The PCA also revealed one of the surviving roommates woke up to noises and saw a masked man in the home a little after 4 a.m.
She told police she was in a “frozen shocked phase” when he walked past her to the back door.
911 wasn’t called until noon the day of the murders.
“That's a natural thing for girls to freeze up and lock up and put themselves in a position of safety. I don't hold that against them. I've already checked into that, could they have lived? You know, was it a slow bleed out or something? And it wasn’t. So, there's one bad guy here that I have to focus on,” Goncalves said.
When asked if there could be any possible connections between the suspect and the victims, Goncalves said it's a small area.
“It's like 9-10 miles. I mean, I'd be shocked if these guys didn't cross each other in grocery stores and just everyday life,” Goncalves said. “If he was over there for a year, I'm assuming that he followed them, and he may have figured out what their patterns are. Then, he tries to bump into them or he tries to hang out in those spots.”
Goncalves doesn't think that there will be some kind of closer connection found between Kohberger and the students.
“No, what kind would? Like my girl is bullying him? Or what kind of behavior could explain somebody being this brutal to another human being? He was probably obsessed with just their overall looks and their social media accounts, and the fact that they (Kaylee and Madison) were close,” Goncalves said.
Along with any possible connections, the affidavit also didn’t reveal a motive.
Because Kohberger was getting his PhD in criminology, Goncalves guessed he may have wanted to live out what he taught.
“I think he thought in his little fantasy world that he was going to teach a class where he actually did it and no one had a clue. Then that gave him a sense of superiority, like you're getting your grades, graded by somebody who actually has lived this lifestyle,” Goncalves said.
The grieving father says rather than glorifying the suspect, with all the national attention on his case, we have to remember to highlight the beautiful lives lost.
He also feels he has to forgive the person who did this.
“I hope this story here is all about these kids. Otherwise, it's just a cancer inside you. I'm not willing to live with that inside me. We're not going to walk around with darkness in our hearts for the rest of our lives, and have his name written there like a tattoo on our consciousness,” Goncalves said.
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