MOSCOW, Idaho — The father of one of the four University of Idaho students killed in November spoke out Friday morning, following suspect Bryan Kohberger's first appearance in court.
Steve Goncalves, the father of Kaylee, said in an interview with NBC's TODAY Show on Friday morning that it was "overwhelming" once police arrested Kohberger and he was extradited to Idaho to face murder charges.
Kohberger faces four counts of first-degree murder and burglary after Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were found stabbed to death on Nov. 13.
Steve Goncalves said his family tracked Kohberger's flight from Pennsylvania every step of the way until he arrived in Idaho on Wednesday evening.
"I wish I would have been there sitting next to him when he was able to pull this guy off the plane," Goncalves said. "But yeah, I don't know what to compare this to because I've never experienced it but I don't remember a case where everyone felt like everyone in my family was watching that plane and we're like naming off the states that he was touching each time you touch them in trying to guess where he was going. I don't know."
Goncalves said he felt the case resonated with people because of the violent nature of the murders.
"I just feel like America really didn't like what happened in the story," Goncalves said in the interview. "And they all were watching and paying attention. And that's really what I was asking for. But then when it happens, it's kind of overwhelming to know."
When Kohberger appeared in court for the first time Thursday, Goncalves said he was hoping the suspect would avoid him for a while.
"He's definitely going to have to deal with the effects of the aftermath," Goncalves said. "And, you know, he's a defendant. He's innocent till proven guilty. But you're gonna have to look me in the eyes and you're gonna have to be a man you got to show me that you're innocent. Or you're guilty. And here, and I'm out running and not going anywhere. So we're here. We're here as a family and we have business to do."
Goncalves believes the case against Kohberger will grow stronger once more details are eventually revealed in court.
An affidavit shows police recovered a knife sheath from one of the victim's bedrooms that had a DNA sample on it.
DNA evidence obtained from the knife sheath at the scene and from Kohberger's parents' house was tested at the Idaho State Lab, court documents say. The results showed the DNA from the parent's house was almost certainly from the father of the person whose DNA was on the knife sheath.
Investigators said cellphone data indicates Kohberger turned off his cell phone during the killings. Before data cut out at 2:47 a.m., it showed Kohberger left his apartment and traveled south through Pullman. When Kohberger’s phone reports back to the network at 4:48 a.m., the phone was near Blaine, Idaho, which is south of Moscow. Data shows Kohberger then returns to his Pullman apartment.
From his perspective, Goncalves said Kohberger appeared to be shell-shocked as he appeared in court.
"Somebody's in complete shock and not prepared for the situation that he was in," Goncalves said. "And I expect that he's going to be a very intelligent, calculated person and he's going to eventually get to a point where he's ready to bring his game to the courtroom, but today, I saw an individual that was over his head and was overwhelmed by the situation and was a little bit surprised that he was in that spot."
As the court proceedings unfold, Goncalves said the family has been "better off" once investigators placed Kohberger into custody.
"We're better off now knowing that we have somebody to focus on," Goncalves said. "It's hard to keep everyone from you know, fighting and everyone's raw emotions are raw. It's easy to, you know, turn and yell at each other so I think it's good to have an outside external force to be against. And that's what we're rallying around in as a father."
Following Kaylee Goncalves' death, the family remembered the University of Idaho student as the "ultimate middle child."
"Kaylee was, is, and always will be our defender and protector," the statement, sent to KREM 2 in November, read in part. "She is tough and fair. The ultimate middle child. She did absolutely everything she set her mind to. She didn’t hold back on love, fights, or life. Kaylee was the ultimate go-getter and constantly wanted an adventure."
Goncalves, a 21-year-old senior from Rathdrum, Idaho, was majoring in general studies at the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. She was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. She'd recently bought a 2016 Range Rover, planned a trip to Europe next year, and expected to move to Texas after graduation, her sister Alivea Goncalves told NBC's TODAY.
“She had everything going for her, absolutely everything,” her older sister, Alivea, said. “She had her job lined up. She had worked really hard for it."