Bryan Kohberger's termination letter from WSU mentions 'altercation' with professor, lack of 'professionalism'
(NewsNation) — Idaho killing suspect Bryan Kohberger was allegedly fired from his position as a teaching assistant at Washington State University, and a termination letter provided to NewsNation may give new insight into the university’s decision.
Kohberger, 28, a criminal justice graduate student at Washington State University, is accused of killing four undergraduate students of the nearby University of Idaho in their off-campus rental home in Moscow, Idaho, in Nov. 2022.
The termination letter, obtained exclusively by NewsNation’s “Banfield,” was dated Dec. 19 — or more than a month after the killings of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle on Nov. 13. But the letter references a Sept. 2022 “altercation” between Kohberger and the professor he was supporting as a teaching assistant, as well as the university’s subsequent “improvement plan” for Kohberger.
“Mr. Kohberger, I am writing this letter to formally inform you of the termination of your teaching assistantship with the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology effective December 31st, 2022,” reads the letter. “In keeping with the WSU graduate student handbook chapters 9G2 and 12E3, below is the list of events that led to you being deficient on the following contingency clause of your funding: ‘Maintaining satisfactory progress in fulfilling assistantship service requirements and duties.'”
The complete list of events, as described by WSU, reads as follows:
- On September 23rd, 2022, you had an altercation with the faculty you support as a TA, professor Snyder. I met with you on October 3rd to discuss norms of professional behavior.
- 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
- As a result, on November 2nd, Graduate Director 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.
- We met again on December 7th, this time with professor Snyder as well as Dr. Willits and I, to discuss your progress on the improvement plan. While not perfect, we agreed that there was progress.
- 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.
- We met on December 19th when I informed you of your termination as a TA for spring semester.
Speaking with Ashleigh Banfield, former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer said the details outlined in the letter indicate that Kohberger had known something “could be going awry with his position” in the months leading up to the night of Nov. 13.
“It would not answer why” a suspect might commit a crime, Coffindaffer said, “but it would explain why he chose the time to do this.”
“Losing a job, potentially losing your income, the embarrassment of losing your position. Maybe even having your dream of being a Ph.D. in jeopardy. These would all be triggering factors to propel you into doing something this heinous, combined with his true reasoning from deep inside himself,” Coffindaffer said of the alleged suspect’s possible motives.