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Police: Suspect Arrested in Idaho College Student Murders; News Conference on Idaho College Student Murders; More January 6 Committee Transcripts Released. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 30, 2022 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper.

And we start with the breaking news. A suspect has been arrested in the murders of the four university students, University of Idaho students. The FBI and Pennsylvania state police arrested 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger early this morning in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, near Scranton.

DNA recovered at the scene matches Kohberger, according to sources.


Authorities say the investigation focused on Kohberger after investigators traced a white Hyundai Elantra seen in the area of the murders back to him. Any moment now, Moscow, Idaho, police are expected to have a news conference. We'll bring to you live as soon as it begins.

It's been more than six weeks since Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin were found stabbed to death in their off campus house. Their murders shocked the small college town and the country.

This presser begins right now.

CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW POLICE: Thank you for coming today.

Last night, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, detectives arrested 28-year-old Brian Christopher Kohberger in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, on a warrant for murder of Ethan, Xana, Madison and Kaylee. I want to personally thank these agencies for their assistance in this case.

Kohberger resides in Pullman, Washington, and is a graduate student at Washington state University. We'll provide as much information as we can about the extradition to Idaho and the criminal process. However, due to Idaho state law, we are limited in what information we could release today until Kohberger has been -- has his initial appearance in Idaho court.

I want to express my appreciation to our local community. The people of Idaho and those throughout our nation who provided information to help us investigate these murders has been very impressive. We've received over 19,000 tips and we've conducted over 300 interviews.

To recap this case, on the evening of November 12th, Kaylee and Madison arrived home at about 1:56 a.m. after visiting a local bar and street food vendor. Ethan and Xana were at the Sigma Chi house before arriving home around 1:45 a.m.

The two surviving roommates returned around 1:00 a.m. On the morning of November 13th, a 911 call was made at 11:58 a.m., reporting an unconscious person at the residence. The call came in -- the call came from inside of the home from one of the surviving roommates' cell phones. Moscow police responded and found two victims on the second floor, and two victims on the third floor.

On November 17th, autopsies were conducted and the Latah County coroner confirmed the identity of the four victims and the cause and manner of death was homicide by stabbing. Some had defensive wounds and each had multiple -- each had been stabbed multiple times.

These murders have shaken our community and no arrest will ever bring back these young students. However, we do believe justice will be found through the criminal process. This was a very complex and extensive case. We developed a clear picture over time, and we stand assured that the work was not -- the work is not done, be assured the work is not done. This has just started.

Since November, we have remained laser focused on pursuing every lead in our pursuit of justice for the victims and their families. I recognize the frustration with the lack of information that has been released. However, provided any details in this criminal investigation might have tainted the upcoming criminal prosecution or alerted the suspect of our progress. We will continue to provide as much information as we can as the process moves forward.

Today, I want to specifically thank our dedicated Moscow police department detectives, patrol officers, the Idaho state detectives, the Idaho state troopers and their crime lab technicians and scientists, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the resources personnel to conduct this massive investigation. It was the dedication of them and the persistence and the numerous hours that led to an arrest. Fortunately these highly skilled people worked together as a cohesive team to solve this case.

I also want to thank our community, and the nation.


Over the past six weeks, I've been continually reminded of how much our community cares. Locally, public support has been exceptional with kind words, food for investigators, and letters of support. You will never know how much your words of encouragement helped us through these trying times.

I appreciate each of you, and each of your kindness. Agencies and individuals from across the nation have reached out to us, to express their support to this department. I'm reminded how our Moscow community, our families and the nation has been impacted by this daily.

Finally, I do want to thank our media partners for the help. You kept this in the news, you helped us with tips, you kept things going and we truly appreciate that. And you are the product of those 19,000 tips that we received, which is an impressive number. I would like to invite Bill Thompson, the county prosecutor up at this time.

BILL THOMPSON, LATAH COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Good afternoon, folks. My name is Bill Thompson, I'm the Latah County prosecutor.

And it is sad to be here but happy to here at the same time. As the Chief Fry indicated, a criminal complaint was filed yesterday here in Latah County, charging Mr. Kohberger with four counts of first degree murder in addition to felony burglary, which involves entering the residence with the intent to commit the crime of murder.

Mr. Kohberger, let me reface, there is a pending case now in court and I and any office and the investigators have to live with the restrictions that our Supreme Court places on pretrial publicity. That said, I promise you we will share with you through the court process or otherwise we are allowed to. I appreciate your patience on that.

The factual basis for the charges are summarized in what is called a probable cause affidavit, that is on file with the court. According to the rules of the Idaho Supreme Court, that is sealed until Mr. Kohberger is physically back with Latah County and has been served with the Idaho arrest warrant.

At that time, we expect that that affidavit will be available to you, so you could share the true facts with all of your readers and your watchers and your listeners and all of the people who are interested in really need to know what is going on. So have patience with us on that. We hope to get that to you as soon as we can.

As far as Mr. Kohberger, I can share with you that he is a graduate student from Washington State University and has an if apartment over in Pullman. He has an initial appearance in front of a judge in Pennsylvania. He's been held without bond. And the warrant from our magistrate judge here also provided for no bond.

We understand that he's scheduled to be back in court in Pennsylvania next Tuesday afternoon. And the public defender has been appointed for him there. The process at this point is since he was arrested in another state, he has the opportunity to either waive extradition and return voluntarily to the state of Idaho, or if he prefers not to waive extradition, we will initiate extradition proceedings through your governor's office.

If we do that, it could take a while for him to get here. So again, I'm asking for your patience and understand that is just the way the system works. Once he gets here, he'll have an initial appearance with our magistrate, they'll deal with issues such as making sure counsel is -- competent counsel is scheduled. Your primary source of factual information is going to be the court

record because that is what the Supreme Court says we need to refer you to. So, please, pay attention to what is going on in court and have people there to watch and hear what is being said. As an attorney, myself and my office, we are limited on what we are allowed by the courts to say outside of the courtroom. So please just work with us.

Finally, as the chief indicated, this is not the end of this investigation. In fact, this is a new beginning. You all know the name of the person who has been charged with these offenses. Please get that information out there.

Please ask the public, anyone who knows about this individual, to come forward, call the tip line, report anything you know about him to help the investigators and eventually our office and the court system understand fully there is to know about not only the individual, but what happened and why.

Next I will introduce Colonel Ked Wills from the Idaho state police. Thank you.

COL. KEDRICK WILLS, IDAHO STATE POLICE: Well, good afternoon. My name is Kedric Wills. I serve as director of the Idaho state police and want to extend our appreciation for your presence here today. These tragic murders took four young vibrant lives to our community and the only thing that we could do in law enforcement to honor their memories is to bring this to a successful conclusion.

This has been a very difficult time for the families, the university, the community and the state of Idaho. However, it is also proven that communities come together in tough times. Certainly appreciate the support of the local community and our national audience that has been following us as we work -- our investigators have worked through this case.

I'm thankful also to you, the media partners, who have helped keep this case in the forefront that generates the tips and continues what we hope will continue to generate information that will help us to a conclusion of this proceeding. I'd like to express our appreciation on behalf of the Idaho state police to Chief Fry and his leadership an the entire Moscow Police Department for the way they handled this from the very beginning.

He directed the right people, to the right positions that led us to this conclusion today. I've had the utmost confidence in this investigation and in Chief Fry as well as in Mr. Bill Thompson and the Latah County prosecutors' office who have been a great partner.

Nothing has deterred the commitment of the investigators who worked on this case regardless of the organization they represent. It is very trying and difficult as you know that it has been on those investigators as they do the tedious work that they're so good at doing.

The partnerships is what's led here as well. The partnerships between Moscow police department, I'd like to express our appreciation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, specifically the special agent in charge out of the Salt Lake City division, Dennis Rice, and in the last 24 hours with the Pennsylvania state police and Colonel Evanchick, with the Pennsylvania State Police.

We appreciate what they've done across the nation to help us as well.

As Bill shared, this investigation is far from over. In fact, I appreciate what he shared that it is not an ending but rather a new beginning. The difference now is, as he shared, that we're dictated what information we could share by the court process and by laws in our state of Idaho. And so, we will share, as he shared, Mr. Thompson is absolutely committed to share everything he can share through the court process. We've got to make sure that we don't get in front of that process.

And we really appreciate deeply, appreciate the relationships that were forged here that have led to this and based on that, it is why we're here today. And we continue to believe that the best way we could honor these four lives that have been taken is to make sure that we have a successful outcome here.

One of the partnerships that has been forged is a partnership with the University of Idaho, and on that I would like to introduce the president of the University of Idaho, Mr. Scott green.

SCOTT GREEN, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO: Thank you. Good afternoon. Scott Green, president of the University of Idaho.

Today's news and arrest is a welcome one. It is a relief to our university, our community and our extended family. The outpouring of support over the past six weeks helped sustain us during the most trying time.

They provided the strength that helped us navigate the international scrutiny, visited on our students and employees. We are truly thankful for the compassion and acts of kindness shown to our community. Kindness is contagious and it provided the light that reclaimed ground lost to evil and darkness.

We first want to acknowledge and thank Governor Little for the early promise of financial support that enabled the university to secure our campus and focus on helping our students and our employees in the wake of the crimes.

We also appreciate the Idaho state police and the highly visible security presence that brought comfort and calm to community shocked and confused by the senseless crimes. We never lost faith that this case could be solved and are grateful for the hard work of the Moscow police department and their law enforcement partners. The vast and committed FBI resorts brought important expertise to this complex case.

Across the board, dedicated personnel worked this case to arrest. This crime has nevertheless left a mark on our university, our community, and our state. [16:15:02]

While we cannot bring back Maddy, Kaylee and Xana and Ethan, we can thoughtfully and purposely carry their legacy forward in the work that we do. Our students come first and that was proven each and every day of this investigation. We're committed to safely delivering the colonel town atmosphere and high quality education for this the university of Idaho is known. With time we will heal, and we'll move forward together and remain Vandal Strong.

And with that, I would like to turn it back over to Chief Fry.

FRY: So, now, we will open the floor to questions. However I want to remind everyone, as prosecutor Bill Thompson explained, any factual information regarding the arrest of Kohberger is currently sealed per Idaho law, and will not be released until he's appeared in an Idaho court.

Please formulate your questions accordingly. I recognize there are a lot of questions and I'll try to answer as many of them as I can.


REPORTER: Lauren Patterson (ph), Northwest Public Broadcasting, Spokane Public Radio. I realize the records are sealed. I guess I'm not too familiar with how it works, but can you tell us what tip, what lead, what piece of evidence really led you all the way from Idaho to the suspect in Pennsylvania?

FRY: As I've said in the past, that is part of our investigation. And we won't be releasing that at this time. We will have those answers. We'll have them as soon as we could make those available to you.

REPORTER: And a quick follow-up and a two-parter. Is our community safe or is the law enforcement still on the search for other suspects might be involved in this attack?

FRY: What I can tell you is we have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes. And I do believe our community is safe.

But we still need to be vigilant, right? We still -- we've talked about this in the past. We always need to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that we're aware of what is going on.

REPORTER: Hi, Chief.

How soon into the investigation did police and law enforcement begin to spot Mr. Kohberger as a potential suspect? And a follow-up, how many tips if you can say were specifically related to Mr. Kohberger?

FRY: To the tip part, I can't answer that question so I won't speculate. And that is part of our investigation and it will come out. I'd like the mic to please come right over here.

REPORTER: Thank you. Dana Griffin (ph) with NBC News. Can you confirm that Kohberger asked

whether or not anyone else has been arrested when he was in custody?

FRY: I cannot confirm that or -- I'm not sure of that information but that would still be part of our investigation.

REPORTER: Did CODIS initially return any hit on this guy?

FRY: That's still part of our investigation on that. It will come out.

If you can get somebody over here, please?

REPORTER: And then one final question. Is there any message to the online sleuths who slandered and harassed people who they believed were responsible?

FRY: There was a lot of speculation going on. And we've always said from the very beginning that we're the official message that comes out and to pay attention to what we're putting out there to the press.

REPORTER: I'm Nancy Lieu (ph) with News Nation and we're over at the house this morning and you told us that the remediation would begin today. It was suddenly stopped. Can you tell us why?

FRY: Yes. The house clean-up has been halted and that came by a legal request from the court.

REPORTER: Christina Corbin (ph), Fox News.

Chief, have you identified a motive?

FRY: That is part of the investigation and that will come out as we continue the investigation. But what we still ask is for people to continue to send us things in the tip line. We are still looking for more information, we're still trying to build that picture just like we have stated all along. We're putting all of the pieces together and that will help.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chief, Veronica Miracle with CNN. Any indication that the suspect knew the victims?

FRY: That's part of the investigation as well. It wouldn't be something that will come out at this point in time, but as we continue this investigation and as this case goes to trial, that will be brought forth.

MIRACLE: Have you spoken to the families? Can you tell us what they've told you today?

FRY: Are you talking the victims' families?


FRY: Yeah, we have reached out to the victims' families, as we always do. We've done that daily and we've continued to have contact with them.


REPORTER: Nate Sanford (ph).

You mentioned earlier that you're still seeing tips about Bryan and that people should still share information. You could speak about what specific people should be reaching out for, if they know something.

FRY: I would say anything and everything. As we've said all along, we know what tips we're looking for. We'll take those tips and we'll have professionals look at those and decide which pieces we need to use for our case. So we ask that everybody would do that.

REPORTER: Angela Palermo (ph), "Idaho Statesman". Your department and other investigators on the case took a lot of flak for keeping information close to your chest. Are you glad that you did that and were you worried about tipping the suspect off?

FRY: I will 100 percent stand behind the way we handled this investigation and this is all started from day one with our patrol officers arrive on scene, locking down the scene, us calling in the state police, us calling in the FBI, and keeping information that was pertinent to this case very, very tight.

We want to have a situation where when this goes to trial, there is to doubt that we've done everything right and we've slowed down and we've continued to slow down and we'll continue to do that.

REPORTER: Hey, chief. Have you guys found the murder weapon or the Hyundai Elantra?

FRY: So, we are still looking for all pieces of evidence. But we are still looking for the weapon. And I will say that we have found an Elantra.

STEPHANIE BECKER, CNN REPORTER: Stephanie Becker with CNN. Can you tell what it was like when you get the phone call when the police told you that they had your suspect?

FRY: I could tell you for a lot of law enforcement it was a fairly sleepless couple of days with, as we were leading up to everything that they were doing. But what I could tell you is that I have faith in those agencies across the nation, I have faith in our officers, I have faith in the FBI, and did a great job.

But, sure, there was some times, even throughout the day that we were always concerned.

REPORTER: Hi, Chief. Dania Baca (ph), CBS News. Could you talk a little bit more about the suspect's connection to Pennsylvania?

FRY: All I know is that he lives in Pennsylvania.

REPORTER: Chief, Guy Tannenbaum from Nonstop Local KHQ in Spokane. More about the Elantra. We saw reports that you mentioned that you

recovered an Elantra, but could you specify where that was found and we know that that was one of the biggest pieces of information you were asking from the public to tip. Were you able to provide information on whether those tips lead to the seizure of an Elantra?

FRY: That is still part of the investigation that will come out in the future.

REPORTER: Chief, Glenn Moseley (ph), Idaho public radio here in Moscow. The additional police presence there town and on campus, semester is coming, is that going to continue?

FRY: You will continue to see state troopers in the area. We're talking to Latah County as well. You will see a presence of us that we're always have up on campus. We have assigned officers to that, so you will continue to see a law enforcement presence.

I'm going to take two more questions.

REPORTER: Hi, chief, Julie Scott, ABC News. Could you tell us if you eventually had a license plate number to the Elantra, and how you tracked it to Pullman?

FRY: That is still part of the investigation. That will come out.

REPORTER: Chief, hi. Matt Loveless (ph) with the Morell College of Communication.

I want to ask about Mr. Kohberger as a graduate student at WSU. Are you aware that if he if he returned to campus after November 13th and have you had any communication with departments on WSU campus about his attendance?

FRY: So, some of that is going to be followed up as we continue our investigation. And we'll be asking some of those questions.

So what I do want to do is I want to thank you all. You really have been the national voice for us. You've given up the opportunity to get many, many tips and I do appreciate everything that you've done. And we'll continue to look forward to working with you in the future on this.

So I'd like to thank you for that and thank you for your time.

MATTINGLY: You have been listening to an update from investigators in the murders of four University of Idaho students. Twenty-eight-year- old Bryan Kohberger was arrested in Pennsylvania early this morning. He's facing four counts of first-degree murder.

Now, there is a lot of information in that news conference from the lead investigators and the president of the University of Idaho, a community that has been very shaken over the course of the last six and a half weeks. But I want so start with CNN's Jean Casarez who is in Pennsylvania where the suspect is being held. And, Jean, we just learned a lot from the police about the suspect.

But there are still significant questions and understanding how these four students were killed. What did you make of what we just heard?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I thought it was interesting to know that the criminal complaint in Idaho was filed yesterday. Four counts of first-degree murder. But also a felony count of burglary that he entered that apartment with the intent to commit a felony and obviously the murders. So it doesn't appear as though there was an invitation to come into the house.

Also, I think it is extremely interesting that we learned that they have found the Elantra. They have not found the murder weapon at all. And as far as more information, it is sealed in the probable cause affidavit with the Idaho courts until the suspect goes from northeast Pennsylvania where we are now back to Idaho.

And I want to tell you he was arrested at 1:30 in the morning. It is about eight miles from where I am. This is rural northeastern Pennsylvania. There is farm land here. It is just small town America.

And what a source has been telling CNN, to go along with this, is that the FBI out of Philadelphia was surveilling him in Pennsylvania for the last four days and while that was happening, that authorities in Idaho were putting together an arrest warrant to be signed off by a judge, alleging the probable cause that they had to -- for him to be arrested.

And the source tells CNN that that was DNA found at the scene. But also that that white car actually belonged to him.

Now, once that probable cause and the arrest warrant was gotten, the complaint has been filed, they moved in at 1:30 this morning. It was the Pennsylvania state police that actually arrested him in Albrightsville, about 8 miles away from here. He had a court appearance early this morning and I saw on the docket, it said motion to set bail was denied. We heard he's here without bail and the next proceeding will be right here in northeastern Pennsylvania on Tuesday, which is the extradition process. Because he's got to be sent back to Idaho, but that has to be done legally. Either he agrees to do it or he doesn't and then as you heard the prosecutors said they would ask the governor to have him removed from the commonwealth here.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, and the Latah County prosecutor acknowledging that that could take time if he does not agree to extradition and as everybody tries to figure out as many details as possible, what the Moscow police chief was saying tracks with the reporting CNN has but the actual officials themselves very limited in what they could say because of Idaho state law. Everything remains under seal until that extradition is actually done.

Now I want to bring in Veronica Miracle.

Veronica, you were in the room. You've been -- you're in Moscow, Idaho. You've been following this case since the very beginning. Based on what you heard today, do you feel like some of the biggest questions you've had over the course of the last six plus weeks have been answered?

MIRACLE: Well, certainly, I think the biggest question not just for myself but so many here is what was motive and how could this happened and why they are limited in what they could reveal because the suspect is not in Idaho and that information could only be unsealed when he returns.

The prosecutor was also saying that he could waive his extradition and certainly come back to Idaho. But if he doesn't do that, it could be a long process. So if that happens, it could be a long time until we find out exactly why this happened.

And I asked the police chief if there was any indication that the suspect knew the students. Was this random? How did this play out? He could not answer that. He said this is all part of the investigation.

And the prosecutor and the police chief both emphasized that they are continuing to reach out to the community for tips. Now that the suspect information has been released, they want to know if people in this community have interacted with Kohberger. They want to know if there's anything change that has happened in the past and they're seeking more information as this investigation continues.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it is very interesting question. Don't stop sending tips according to state and local officials. They want more information on the individual that is now been arrested on this.

I want to swing over to Josh Campbell.


Josh, you're a former FBI agent. It was fascinating for as little detail as they were allowed to convey, you got a few kind of threads of things that -- the police chief talking about how it had been several nights -- several sleepless nights in the lead up to this. Clearly, this has been in the works for several days, and they have an Elantra.

Obviously, a Hyundai Elantra was considered one of the big breakthroughs of the case in terms of actual information, tangible information that they were going on. The Idaho police chief developed a clear picture overtime.

What does that tell you about how the search for the alleged killer progressed?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think it gets to the vehicle. We've been reporting based on our sources that much of the identification was due in part or due largely to that actual white Hyundai Elantra that authorities were able to track and as we've been reporting the suspect traveled some 2,500 miles from Idaho to Pennsylvania and it really shows you, as you mentioned, the sleepless nights for law enforcement, think about the number of moving parts that were involved in this investigation.

You have authorities in one jurisdiction in the state of Idaho that learn with help from the FBI and the Pennsylvania state police that the suspect is in another location. And they quickly have to move to go to the courts to get the legal process in order to set up and arrest that person. Now we know that the suspect was under surveillance for several days based on our sources and then authorities ultimately decided this morning to actually move in.

I'm told from law enforcement source that it was a Pennsylvania state police who physically put handcuffs on the suspect. That after they went to the court to get their own warrant, the suspect being held as he goes through the extradition process that jean was just mentioning, but a lot of moving parts here.

One thing we still don't know is the motive. And, you know, authorities say as you just mentioned, they're trying to illicit tips from the public. And this is an occasion where authorities are asking us to do just that, to get this person's face out there, to get his name out there. They want as much information as they can. As they try to work backwards and piece together why he allegedly conducted these four brutal murders, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it is stunning how many moving parts to get to this point. But it was also somewhat over the course of six and a half weeks and I want to bring in its rest of our panel here.

Juliette Kayyem, you're CNN national security analyst.


MATTINGLY: Looking back, the Police Chief James Fry, Moscow police chief, acknowledged that he recognized that there was frustration in the community but outside of the community as well as people trying to figure out why there was so little information conveyed or so little known about anything here. Do you think the criticism they faced was unfair now that we've gotten to this point?

KAYYEM: I think pieces of it are unfair. I think that the public officials probably should have been more transparent in the early days when they knew that they had a mass murder and that is just an important lesson. We're not going to blame them. They've done a tremendous thing. But just that transparency to the community because we heard that people didn't even -- a lot of people didn't even know there had been a murder like this. You want to protect the community.

But once they have an investigation, shutting down I'm always, this is maybe against interest because I'm an analyst for CNN, but I tend to forgive law enforcement for shutting down.

This is a small community. They do not know if the murderer was or is a member of community. They don't know his status in the community. They don't know whether he had ties to law enforcement. They didn't know a lot of things.

As the investigation then branches out to the FBI, state police, multiple states, all of the media that they thanked, then they begin to collect, as josh was saying, tips from the public and engaged the public in a way that clearly proves fruitful, and just finally ending on this point. We're all searching for a why because it's inexplicable that there won't be a why, right? I mean, as parents you said it is a good and a bad day in the sense that they have someone. And we don't know if there is a why. Was there a connection, an online connection or was this just a brutal murder done at random?

And so they're continuing to try to figure this out. Because it is important to the family members but it is also important of course to not just this community, but all communities in terms of their safety and security.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, and, Juliette, you hit on a couple of key pieces of context that are important in flushing out. In fact, this is a community of about 25,000 and University of Idaho has about 11,000 and there hadn't been a murder there and the biggest concern was the public safety concern given there have been conflicting assessments of whether this was a target the killing, whether it wasn't. It was walked back and forth to some degree.

So that is separate and apart from the investigation part. Where clearly they feel like they have landed on an outcome with much still to come.


Phil Mudd, you were reacting during several of the officers' questions. Do you think investigators should have told us more today with the caveat that they're obviously recognizing Idaho state law?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Absolutely not. Look, from day one, the first problem the investigators had was they spoke too much. You just mentioned them talking about a targeted killing. That was a mistake that they drew back on.

As soon as they speak, they're under some compulsion to speak again. As soon as they speak, the individual who committed this will be watching this to determine whether there is a circle tightening around him.

And let's get to another point, every single thing they say will be picked apart by defense attorneys to determine whether there was prejudice in the case. The most famous case of my lifetime was OJ Simpson and it turns on the jury say that the police were prejudiced against the defendant. They don't want to say anything that gives an advantage to the defense attorneys.

I understand the community is frustrated and the family. I wouldn't have said a word from day one and I think the police did it right.

MATTINGLY: Casey Jordan, over to you. You're a criminologist. And one of the things was police have not been able to find a murder weapon. Does that strike you as strange or how does this play out?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Oh, not at all. So I'm not at all surprised, although really disheartened to find out that this suspect, is a PhD student in criminology at Washington State University. We had to understand this was an organized killer. The fact that we had no leads for so long. And he got away in the middle of the night without that video camera footage from somebody's residence that picked up the white Elantra. I don't know that we would have this guy. We'll find out later about the DNA.

But the key is he would be smart enough to get rid of the weapon for sure. Apparently he wasn't smart enough to get rid of the car, the fact that he fled back to his home town in Pennsylvania, not surprising. He thinks out of sight, out of mind.

What interests me is the most is the question that came up in the presser based on someone in the room, they said during his booking and this -- the police would not confirm it, that he looked at them and said has anyone else been arrested in this case? Now that rang bells for me because this is a smart guy who is obsessed with crime. And to me that indicates a few things. It is a setup. He's trying to already and he's sophisticated he knows how the criminal justice system works because he studies it.

He wants to set up the idea he didn't work alone or they've got the wrong guy. Or scariest of all, that perhaps he's suffering from a disassociate identity disorder and an alter committed these crimes. So, it will be really interesting to get a better insight into his psychology.

MATTINGLY: And Mary Ellen O'Toole, over to you -- along those lines, look, the police chief said I believe we have an individual in custody who committed these horrible crimes, I do believe the community is safe at this time. You could read into that.

But all of the elements that we do have, and again they're desperate threads, everybody is trying to put everything together, but who he was and what his background was that he know up until this point. We still don't know the motive behind the killing. Is it likely this was a random murder or must he have had some sort of connection to the students?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI PROFILER: Well, when you use the word random, are you suggesting that this was somebody that just hadn't no knowledge, no information about, either the victims or the house and then just happened to wander inside of the house, if that is what you were asking me, I don't think that is -- that is not a viable conclusion that I think most of us would make.

I think based on the knowledge that the offender had inside of the house, the time of day, the way that the murders were carried out, the unprovoked murders were carried out, and if they were targeted, we still are reliant on early on information, this is someone that had some kind of knowledge about the victims and the inside of the house. I think that is far more reasonable than just -- just a stranger walking down the street I feel like killing someone tonight and that is a house and I'll go inside. I don't think that is reasonable.

MATTINGLY: Well, let's a lot of unanswered questions. I can't argue with 245 assessment. And he was a student at Washington state. That is about eight miles away from Moscow, Idaho, and was arrested 2500 miles away. I think there is so much we're going to find out and as the officials made clear, at this point in time they can't say anything at all about the factual information until he arrives in Idaho.

Guys, I appreciate your expertise. There is so much more to learn here I'm sure we'll talk about it often in the week as head. Thanks so much.

And a busy day, more transcripts from the January 6 committee have been released including an interview with the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Stick around.



MATTINGLY: In our politics lead, new witness transcripts from the House committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack, including key interviews with Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as Trump's son-in-law and former White House adviser, Jared Kushner.

CNN's Sara Murray has a PhD in the reading of transcripts for the last several weeks.

I want to start with Ginni Thomas because she's been a figure in this throughout her husband's Supreme Court justice and she came under scrutiny to over turn the election.

What does she tell the panel about the messages to Mark Meadows?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, our team has been going through her transcripts. As with so many, we previously reported that she attested Mark Meadows, you know, encouraging Donald Trump to stand firm, saying that the left was attempting at the greatest heist in our history, essentially telling Mark Meadows thank you guys should keep up these election challenges.

So, she's asked in her interview with the committee, about these texts of Mark Meadows. And she does give a little bit of a mea culpa. She says, I regret the tone and the content of these texts. I really found my language imprudent and my choices of sending the context of these emails are unfortunate.


She said it was an emotional time. And that she was emoting. Although interestingly, she still told the committee she thinks it was fraud in the 2020 election even though she hasn't seen any specific evidence of that.

MATTINGLY: I regret the contents of the emails but still believe the content. Got it. It makes sense.

Also, according to the emails provided to the committee, Jared Kushner wanted to trade -- Donald Trump wanted to trademark the phrase "rigged election!" exclamation point days after the election 2020. Walk us through that.

MURRAY: Yeah. So Donald Trump throughout the course of his career, throughout his candidacy, has wanted to trademark all kinds of slogans. Of course, as we know, this is days after the election has been called he says he wants to trademark the phrase, rigged election.

This comes up in the emails Jared Kushner has provided to the committee. It comes up in Jared Kushner's interview. He gets an email from Dan Scavino saying, hey, Donald Trump wants to trademark "rigged election". Essentially, what am I supposed to do about this? I don't know how to get this trademark.

Jared Kushner passes that information, along to a couple of other people try to get the ball rolling, on the former president's request.

MATTINGLY: Normal times. Don't forget the exclamation point, by the way, very important here.

One interesting part of the interview with former deputy White House chief of staff Tony Ornato. Obviously, he is a central figure in Cassidy Hutchinson's most explosive accusations. What do you say about the events of January 6?

MURRAY: He was asked about a whole host of things it by the committee in part because Cassidy Hutchinson had provided this explosive testimony. You k now, we previously reported that he did not corroborate the incident that she talked about that happened. You know, allegedly, Trump getting very irate, lunging at people, in the motorcade. He didn't corroborate any of that.

But, he was asked about what was happening on January 6th. About efforts people were trying to get to make -- you know, to encourage Donald Trump to make a public statement. And Tony Ornato basically was like, it was so crazy, I can't really very much.

He says, I will be very honest with you. It was a very chaotic time. In trying to get the information, it was usually late information or wasn't accurate or it was the fog of war, and it was misrepresented and it was a very chaotic day, so I don't recall those specific details.

We should also note that while Ornato's attorney has said that he was cooperative with the committee, the committee wrote in their report multiple times that they do not believe his testimony is credible.

MATTINGLY: Got it. Yeah. I was in the Capitol . I can agree it was very capital chaotic day on January 6.

Can I ask you? Before we close, obviously, Republicans take over the majority next week on January 3rd. Do you have a sense of how this plays out over the course of the next couple of days? And I don't mean to preface reducing ruining your weekend.

MURRAY: Yeah, sure, that's not a triggering question at all. Well, there are still a lot of transcripts the need to come out. We may get some today. We may get some of the weekend. You know, basically, the committee has until Tuesday to get this stuff

out. After that, there's going to be a repository publicly on the JPO website. We are waiting to get the details of that. So the stuff will live on for the committee will not.

MATTINGLY: Happy New York, Murray.

Sara Murray as always, thanks so much. Great reporting.

All right. Coming up, a nearly normal schedule for Southwest today. But almost ten days later, the meltdown has cost passenger so much more than money.



MATTINGLY: In our money lead, finally, Southwest Airlines jets are back in the skies. Its executives say they can't apologize enough for the more than week-long meltdown that stranded thousands of travelers.

CNN's Gabe Cohen takes a look at the cost to passengers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I'm not sure how to feel about it.

GABE COHEN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Mielcarek family says they're out more than $5,000 and a lot of time from a Caribbean vacation that never happened. Their Southwest flight from Baltimore canceled Christmas Day.

KRISTIN MIELCAREK, STRANDED SOUTHWEST CUSTOMER: The only flight to get us to Grand Cayman was leaving from Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday.

COHEN: So they rented a car and drove 15 hours from Maryland to Florida to meet their luggage and catch that flight. But Tuesday they say it was canceled, too.

MIELCAREK: I was falling apart a little. We've saved for this vacation and it was our Christmas gift to our son and to each other, and, you know, it was really kind of not to be overly dramatic, but we felt devastated.

COHEN: They're back in Baltimore, their flights refunded, though not the hotels, clothing, car rental or gas. They're not sure where to request that. And their bags, checked on Christmas, are still missing.

What would you say to southwest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your stuff together.

COHEN: Southwest has vowed to take care of these customers and the U.S. Department of Transportation says it will hold the airline accountable if it doesn't.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: You are owed compensation if you have been in this situation since Christmas Eve.

COHEN: But some travelers have lived a nightmare that receipts won't resolve.

KAREN JENKINS, SOUTHWEST CUSTOMER MISSING LUGGAGE: This has been the worst Christmas I've ever, ever gone through.

COHEN: Karen Jenkins is back at the airport searching for luggage nearly a week into visiting her daughter. Inside her bags, pain medication for some stomach issues, and custom medical supplies for her colostomy bag.

JENKINS: Normally, I have to change a patch every other day. Not only am I messing up my clothes, but the odor is seeping through. I haven't been able to relax. I haven't been able to enjoy the holiday because I'm worrying about can somebody smell me.

COHEN: Karen and her daughter left without those bags to search for a medical supply store.


COHEN: Tricia O'Kelley had to watch her father's military funeral on Zoom after her Southwest flight to Florida got canceled.

Have you gotten a refund?

O'KELLEY: No, nothing from them.

COHEN: She scrambled and booked last-minute on another airline, but that got canceled. And by that time, she was out of options.

O'KELLEY: I'm super frustrated, but mostly I'm just disappointed and sad that I couldn't be there for my mom and sad that I wasn't there in person to say good-bye to my dad.


COHEN (on camera): Now, Southwest CEO says they will cover costs like hotels, rental cars, even booking travelers with other airlines, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said if the airline doesn't do what's required to take care of its customers, they're ready to fine Southwest tens of thousands of dollars per violation -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Gabe Cohen, thanks so much.

I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper. I hope everyone has a happy, safe, wonderful New Year.

Our coverage continues with the one and only Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" after a short break.