Bryan Kohberger appears to have this in common with convicted serial killers

Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students, leaves after an extradition hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool) (Matt Rourke, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

With the arrest of 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four college students in Moscow, Idaho, there seems to be one common thread between Kohberger and other prominent serial killers.

Kohberger was a Ph.D. student at Washington State University who studied criminal justice and criminology, and if he is ultimately found guilty of the crimes, won’t be the first serial killer who studied crimes and law enforcement extensively.

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Dennis Rader, otherwise known as “BTK,” and Joseph James DeAngelo, known as the “Golden State Killer,” also studied criminology or criminal justice in college.

Kerri Rawson, the daughter of Rader, recently has said her father might have had contact with Kohberger from his prison cell.

Rawson mentioned that while Kohberger was a master’s student, he studied under Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a professor at DeSales University in Pennsylvania who is an expert and an author on serial killers and mass murderers.

Ramsland wrote the book “Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer,” and Rawson admitted that Ramsland’s connections to both Rader and Kohberger might have led those two men to get in contact.

“It’s really common in general for people in the public, or criminology students especially, to correspond with my father via letters and sometimes talk to him on the phone,” Rawson said on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“And since Dr. Ramsland had a long term, several years academic, intimate relationship with my father and a personal friendship, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kohberger tried to contact my father or had contact. At this point, we don’t have proof of it. We would need to see letters either at Kohberger’s home or in my father’s jail cell.”

Rawson went on to say it’s common for students to be assigned to contact criminals for research purposes.

“Professors try to reach out to my father from an academic standpoint, because it’s rare to be able to pick the brain of a true psychopath and have them at least be willing to talk to you,” Rawson said.

Whether or not it’s determined that Kohberger actually had contact with Rader, it’s definitely been a pattern where serial killers are trying to emulate convicted murderers.

“We’ve had other cases where offenders have been in areas of study that more or less prepare them to commit a crime,” former senior FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole said to CNN.

Dennis Rader (BTK)

Rader was convicted of killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991 and was known to send taunting letters to media members and law enforcement, according to Biography.

Rader knew intricacies of police and crimes after majoring in Administration of Justice, now known as criminal justice, at Wichita State. He graduated from there in 1979.

Rader also worked for the home security company ADT.

Joseph James DeAngelo

Known as the “Golden State Killer,” DeAngelo also had extensive knowledge of law enforcement and crimes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sacramento State University in 1971, and then had further police training before serving as a burglary unit police officer in Exeter, California from 1973 to 1976.

DeAngelo was eventually fired from his job as a police officer in Auburn, California after being arrested for shoplifting in 1979.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.