Moscow Murders: Update 1
Is a silently raging drug problem at the core of this case?
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated on the Moscow Murders, mainly because information, overall, has been scarce thanks to the sweeping gag order put into effect in mid April.
The move, formally contested by over 30 news organizations, has largely shrouded the details of this case from the public. In turn, as it goes, it’s also helped fuel an onslaught of media conspiracies that continue to abound, seeking to fill in where facts are missing. Particularly because motive is still unknown, and surviving roommate’s stories still unwritten.
At a certain point, it seems fair to lean into social media sleuthing to examine working theories.
At his arraignment yesterday, Bryan Kolhberger sat wordlessly as a judge read aloud the murder and burglary charges against him. Instead of entering a plea, Kohberger’s attorney replied, “Your honor, we are standing silent.”
The legal strategy, known as “standing mute,” is unconventional but relies on an Idaho rule, which requires a judge to then enter a ‘not guilty’ plea on the defendant’s behalf, effectively allowing him to avoid verbally committing to being guilty or not guilty.
“It doesn’t matter what he says or doesn’t say,” attorney Anne Bremner commented to CNN. “Either way, he’s on the record with a not guilty plea.”
A legal source warned there is also a high probability that this case might never make it to trial.
"If the underlying strategy is to delay things as much as possible, and allow public interest to die down, they can quietly enter a plea deal later on that avoids trial altogether."
The tactic, if successful, would completely disregard the wishes of the victim’s families, but the prosecution, I was reminded, is not there representing families but the state. So they often lack compassion in decisions attached to high-profile situations.
Law enforcement, in general, has not been great about ongoing communication with the victim’s families. Local criticism on the issue was apparent when we visited Moscow in January. Their primary focus has always been directed at thwarting public interest, which tends to spike with any new revelations. Many believe the gag order intends to silence sensational aspects of the case rather than protect incoming evidence seeing that the reputation of the University (a defining source of income for Moscow) is at stake.
“The University controls this town. They are all about appearances. What it looks like from the outside," the source said, referring to amped-up efforts to seal details that might expose how a gruesome murder in a quaint college town entangles a rampant drug ring in Moscow, Idaho.
I'm told drugs are a big (missing) part of the story. And politics in a small town are very persuasive. Which supports the claims made by a woman named “Kim” who called into the Drunk Turkey podcast a few weeks ago claiming that her children were students at U of I, and could attest to a major drug problem on campus and a frantic sweep at King Rd. before police were called.
According to the source, “They are hoping to sweep everything under the rug with this investigation. No one is willing to dig deeper, or go beyond what we are being told, but shouldn’t we all be wondering why there hasn’t been anyone from the University, as far as staff goes, that’s spoken publicly about this crime.”
“It’s not worth the risk of their livelihood.”
A second source (with direct insight to the victims) suggested I take a closer look at two individuals, names previously unknown to me: Emma Bailey, a young woman with priors, who lived behind the house on King Road, and Quinn Kelly, the boyfriend of Dylan Mortensen. The two, apparently connected, but all evidence has been scrubbed from the internet.