Why People Are Comparing Idaho Murder Suspect Bryan Kohberger To Ted Bundy

The alleged crimes of Bryan Kohberger have shocked the people of Idaho and made headlines around the world. He is accused of committing four murders on November 13, 2022, in the student town of Moscow, Idaho, the first the town has experienced since 2015. The Washington State doctorate student — who was arrested near his family's home in Pennsylvania some 2,400 miles from the crime scene — is accused of carrying out the horrific attack in an off-campus student house in the middle of the night.

According to court documents obtained by ABC News, those killed were best friends Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, as well as Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20. All four were students at the University of Idaho who were stabbed to death while they were sleeping, while two others in the house were not attacked. One of the survivors claimed that she encountered the killer and described a tall, slim figure wearing all black who left through a sliding door before the victims' bodies were discovered. Police told the Daily Mail that the scene of the chilling quadruple murder was the "worst we have ever seen." However, true crime experts have found comparisons between the heinous slayings and those committed by one of America's most notorious serial killers: Ted Bundy.

Both were fueled by rage

Killers are often characterized as cool and calculating, but in both the crimes of Ted Bundy and those alleged to have been committed by Bryan Kohberger, the brutal immediacy of the attacks is nothing short of savage. Bundy was first captured in 1975, when, despite already having several murders to his name, he was jailed for attempted kidnapping (per Biography). The following year he was finally linked to a murder and extradited to Colorado to stand trial. However, he managed to escape — twice — in 1977, and the serial killer was free to attack again, which he did with shocking abandon. After his second prison escape, he committed his next crime — running rampant in a sorority house, Chi Omega, at Florida State University (per CBS News). Bundy prowled the house armed with a club, bludgeoning and biting female students as he encountered them before fleeing from the scene. The senseless attack left two young women dead and two others seriously injured before Bundy set his sights on another victim, Cheryl Thomas — who survived — at her home six blocks away. Bundy was later identified as the attacker by the bite marks he had left on his victims.

The alleged murders in Idaho were similarly brutal, involving an invasion in the dead of night and close-up violence with a fatal weapon against vulnerable people. Bundy's former lawyer, John Henry Browne, told FOX 29 that he believed Bundy's shocking murders were in part fuelled anger, and that the killings in the Idaho case were carried out with similar rage.

Both studied human psychology

Ted Bundy, who died in the electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989, was a brutal killer of women and girls who committed at least 20 murders and claimed responsibility for 36. Though at his trial Bundy reportedly came across as intelligent and charismatic, it is now known that he would trick his victims with subterfuge, often pretending to be injured or in need of help before attacking them. It is something of a Hollywood cliche that serial killers are masters of human psychology, but in Bundy's case he at least had some background in the discipline. Notably, he graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Washington in 1972, passing with flying colors and disappointing the department when he later turned his attention to law. Many commentators have argued that his knowledge of psychology gave Bundy the tools needed to trick women into being attacked.

Interestingly, alleged murderer Bryan Kohberger also has a psychology background, having gained a college degree in his home state of Pennsylvania. According to People, he too later changed direction in favor of legal studies, gaining a master's degree in criminal justice. He was studying for a doctorate in criminology at Washington State University at the time of his arrest. 

Both attacks might have been premeditated

That both attacks took place in student dormitories and involved the killer breaking in during the dead of night and leaving four victims behind has naturally seen many online commentators draw more comparisons. Since the murders were first reported, investigators have been reticent to share much of the evidence they have gathered against Bryan Kohberger with the press, while his defense team has made efforts to claim there was no prior connection whatsoever between the accused and the victims. John Henry Browne told FOX 29 that the Bundy and Idaho cases were similarly unusual in their "randomness." However, People claimed that the alleged killer in the Idaho case had followed the three female victims on Instagram, and an investigator familiar with the case told the outlet that he had messaged one. According to the family of the Idaho murder victim Kaylee Goncalves, he interacted with the account belonging to Madison Mogen (per CBS News).

While Ted Bundy's attack on the Chi Omega sorority house was certainly premeditated — he had come armed — it was believed that he had chosen a random target, having no known link to any of the women who slept in the building. However, one of Bundy's victims, Cheryl Thomas, told CBS News that she suspects Bundy of stalking her before the attack. In addition, former prosecutor Larry Simpson — who worked the case — told the outlet the killer may have attacked the sorority house after being foiled by potential witnesses in a first attempt to enter her nearby home.