The surviving roommate who told police she encountered an intruder in the home where four University of Idaho students were murdered was “scared to death,” according to an attorney for one of the victim’s families.
“She was scared. She was scared to death, and rightly so,” lawyer Shanon Gray told Fox News on Saturday. “This guy had just murdered four people in the home.”
Gray represents the family of victim Kaylee Goncalves, who was stabbed to death in the early morning hours of November 13 at an off-campus house in Moscow, Idaho, along with victims Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.
The lawyer was referring to the roommate identified in court records as D.M., who told authorities that an unknown “figure clad in black clothing and a mask” walked past her on the second floor of the home and then toward a rear sliding door.
Police believe the intruder was 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger, who has been charged with murdering the four college students.
It is not clear whether the intruder saw D.M., who had described the man as “5’10” or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows,” according to a probable cause affidavit released this week. The document says D.M. stood in a “frozen shock phase” and then “locked herself in her room after seeing the male.”
Questions have been raised about why authorities were not called to the home until nearly noon later that day when D.M. allegedly encountered the intruder shortly after 4 a.m.
However, one possibility is that D.M. could have experienced traumatic shock, including dissociation and tonic immobility, according to NBC News.
“When your body is in shock and you think you’re going to die or you think you’re in a threatening situation, adrenaline surges your sympathetic nervous system and takes off, and you may experience a frozen state where consciously you know what’s happening, but then a coping mechanism is for you to dissociate,” New York University Joseph psychiatry professor Dr. Judith F. Joseph told NBC News.
“People may disassociate in and out for hours, especially if they’ve been through severe trauma.”
Gray, the Goncalves’ family lawyer, told Fox News that D.M. provided investigators with “beneficial” information.
“She’s a victim in this case. Everybody kind of forgets that,” Gray told Fox News. “The Goncalves family doesn’t have any ill will towards her or anything like that.”
In a statement at a memorial service last year, D.M. and another surviving roommate described their love for the victims.
“My life was greatly impacted to have known these four beautiful people,” D.M. wrote, according to CNN.
“My people who changed my life in so many ways and made me so happy. I know it will be hard to not have the four of them in our lives, but I know Xana, Ethan, Maddie and Kaylee would want us to live life and be happy and they would want us to celebrate their lives.”
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[Featured image: FILE – Bare spots are seen on Nov. 29, 2022, in the snowy parking lot in front of the home where four University of Idaho students were found dead on Nov. 13, in Moscow, Idaho, after vehicles belonging to the victims and others were towed away earlier in the day. Police are asking for help finding the occupant of a car that was seen near where the students were stabbed, saying that person could have “critical information” about the case. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)]