Pro-Bryan Kohberger Social Media Group Banned Over ‘Groupies’

AReddit channel for supporters of Bryan Kohberger, the man charged in the murders of four University of Idaho students, has been banned.

Kohberger, 28, is accused of breaking into a rental home in Moscow in the early hours of November 13 and fatally stabbing Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle’s boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20.

He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary. He is yet to enter a plea, but a lawyer who previously represented him in Pennsylvania—where he was arrested at his parents’ home on December 30—said he was “eager to be exonerated.”

Since then, fans of Kohberger—formerly a graduate student in criminology at Washington State University in Pullman—have come to his defense on various social media platforms, while at least one woman has been sending him love letters.

Recently, a subreddit called “Brynation” was banned for repeatedly violating Reddit’s Moderator Code of Conduct, according to a message on the site. It gave no further details of how the code, which says moderators must uphold Reddit’s content policy and follow other rules, was violated. Reddit has been contacted for comment.

On Facebook, several groups have popped up calling for “justice” for Kohberger.

One such group, called “Justice for Bryan Kohberger,” remains active and has more than 3,500 members.

“It’s about whether or not you can prove you’re innocent. If you can’t prove you’re innocent, then you’re considered guilty. It’s been flipped: Now it’s guilty until proven innocent,” the group’s description reads, quoting Ronald Jones—a man wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a woman.

“These groups have always been around, it just seems there are more of them because of the internet,” Joseph Giacalone, a retired New York Police Department sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Newsweek.

“Most, if not all, are part of what we call the true crime community whose interest is piqued. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that nor would I be concerned.”

Giacalone said he views members of such groups as online “defense attorneys.”

“They’ll examine everything available to try and prove that the case against him is weak,” he said. “All I can say is we only know a tiny bit of the evidence that has tied him to the crime due to all the gag orders. So there is a strong possibility that they might end up disappointed.”

Scott Bonn, a criminologist and author of Why We Love Serial Killers, told NewsNation’s Brian Entin that there is a “spectrum” when it comes to people fascinated by killers and alleged killers.

“On one hand, there’s healthy curiosity, but then on the other hand, it can also become an obsession,” Bonn said.

“This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, there have been cases, such as Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker back in the 1980s, he actually married one of his groupies,” he said. “And of course, Charles Manson and Ted Bundy and others had legions of groupies.”

A five-day preliminary hearing in Kohberger’s case is scheduled to begin on June 26.

Update 2/28/23, 8:38 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comment from Joseph Giacalone.

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