Bryan Kohberger Confronted by Students in Class He Taught Over Grades Weeks Before Idaho Murders

Bryan Kohberger
Bryan Kohberger (above in court last month) was getting pushback from his students and his department in the weeks before the University of Idaho killings.GettyImages

Then, shortly after the murders of four University of Idaho students in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, Bryan Kohberger exhibited some notable changes says a former student.

A group of students confronted Bryan Kohberger during a classroom debate a few weeks before the University of Idaho murders.

One of the students, Hayden Stinchfield, says on "The King Road Killings" podcast that this all happened after the class, taught by Kohberger, had its midterm examination sometime around "the end of September to the start of October."

"Most people just sort of got the vibe from him that he was grading us a little too harshly," says Stinchfield.

So Stinchfield and his fellow Washington State University undergraduate students spent an entire class debating their grades with Kohberger.

"We had a midterm exam that a lot of people thought was graded unfairly. So we as a class had like a day where we went in and we were all essentially allowed to just like debate him about our grades and try and like earn points back," Stinchfield says. "But, you know, it was a thing where he argued back."

Kohberger did not appear to enjoy the debate, says Stinchfield.

"And so we were sort of in this weird like debate for the whole class, 50 of us against one of him, and he was having to field all these questions," Stinchfield explains. "But Brian didn't seem super comfortable, and honestly, none of us were like, super comfortable. It was a weird vibe."

The debate ended up working out well for the students, according to Stinchfield.

"That was like a turning point, I think for us," Stinchfield says. "We felt like when we did that, our grades got better."

Kohberger also seemed "distant" and "a little bit weird," though never to the point where he raised any "serious red flags," says Stinchfield.

"He'd look at the ground when he was up at the front of class," Stinchfield says, adding that Kohberger "never was super engaged with [the students]."

Then, shortly after the murders of four University of Idaho students in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, Kohberger exhibited some notable changes, says Stinchfield.

"Later in the semester, like the last time he came was probably a couple weeks before the class ended physically, I remember he looked a little bit more disheveled. He had like some stubble coming on and his hair was a little, you know, messed up or whatever. Nothing like crazy," Stinchfield says. "But enough that I remember seeing him and thinking like, oh man, you know, finals must be really getting to him or something like that."

There was also another surprising change.

"What happened is he started giving everyone, everyone just like high marks and not leaving any notes," Stinchfield says.

At the time, faculty members at Washington State University were counseling Kohberger following a verbal altercation with a professor he worked for in the school’s criminology program, according to a letter obtained by Inside Edition Digital. 

But following that counseling, Kohberger allegedly had a second incident with the same professor in early December and he lost his job as a teaching assistant.

In addition to the professional blow, Kohberger took a huge financial hit when he lost his job.

Teaching assistants in the criminology program at WSU “receive a specified stipend each month, health insurance benefits, and an in-state tuition waiver. Out-of-state tuition is waived the first year until the student establishes residency," the university notes on its website. 

Kohberger had already started the process of becoming a resident of the state by obtaining a Washington driver's license as well as registering his car, as is recommended by the college. 

He also registered to vote in the state.

It is unclear if Kohberger had made the decision to leave WSU's criminology program before he drove back home to Pennsylvania on Dec.13, but search warrants executed at Kohberger's on-campus residence and office both turned up little in the way of evidence, according to authorities. 

Inside Edition Digital obtained a copy of the letter sent to Kohberger terminating his TA position, which outlined his alleged offenses.

"On September 23rd, 2022, you had an altercation with the faculty you support as a TA, Professor [John] Snyder. I met with you on October 3rd to discuss norms of professional behavior," the letter reads. 

"On October 21st, Professor Snyder emailed you about the ways in which you had failed to meet your expectations as a TA thus far in the semester," it continues. "As a result, on November 2nd, Graduate Director [Dale] Willits and I met with you to discuss an improvement plan, which you agreed to and I shared with you in an email dated November 3rd."

Kohberger met with faculty including the professor with whom he allegedly had conflicts and the graduate director on Dec. 7 to discuss his progress in regards to the improvement plan previously discussed, according to the letter.

"While not perfect, we agreed that there was progress," the letter reads. 

But then, "On December 9th, there was another altercation with Professor Snyder, in which it became apparent that you had not made progress regarding professionalism and about which I wrote to you on December 11th requesting a meeting," the letter reads. "We met on December 19th when I informed you of your termination as a TA for spring semester."

Kohberger’s termination came after he arrived home following a cross-country drive with his father from Washington to Pennsylvania.

WSU declined to comment on the investigation or Kohberger’s termination, citing privacy laws that prohibit them from speaking publicly about students and alumni. 

Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in the middle of the night at an off-campus house.

Three of the victims — Madison Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20 — lived in the home. The fourth victim, 20-year-old Ethan Chapin, was in a relationship with Kernodle.

Kohberger told a previous public defender that he expects to be exonerated at trial. In May, he declined to enter a plea after being formally charged with four counts of murder. The judge in the case entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

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