The University of Idaho murders highlight America’s obsession with true crime


Kernel Opinions Sig

Karrington Garland, Opinions Editor

The University of Idaho murders highlight America’s love, deep-seated obsession and desensitization towards everything macabre and dark.

The town of Moscow, Idaho, is facing international attention in the wake of the murders of four of its U of I students: Kaylee Gonglaves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen.

The murders, which occurred on Nov. 13, 2022, have become a hot topic on TikTok. Numerous amateur true crime sleuths took to the app, trying to pick apart the case. They pointed out chilling facts about the alleged killer, Bryan Kohberger, as well.

Because of the immense interest and the possibility of cracking the case, many of these TikTok users spread misinformation regarding the night of the murder, the possibility of multiple suspects (before Kohberger was arrested as the sole suspect) and questioned the stories of the two surviving roommates.

Some users criticized the roommates’ reaction to the killings and questioned how they survived the horrific night.

Others found fault with the way the victims’ families grieved at the vigil held for the four.

This case also shows the way in which many users on TikTok see the murders as an opportunity to put in their two cents, raise popularity on their individual accounts or act out their desires of being true crime investigators and detectives to help solve the murders.

With the release of the affidavit provided by Brett Payne of the Moscow Police Department, avid TikTok creators took to the platform to call into question how one of the survivors, D.M, as addressed in the document, opened her bedroom door and saw the perpetrator walk by her and out of the house.

Many questioned how D.M could have seen the perpetrator and survived, and others criticize her for not calling for help and instead locking herself in her room.

The criticism of D.M shows the disconnect of humanity and the visceral way in which those behind a screen get the courage to say harmful things or give their unwanted opinions in the comfort of their homes.

In all honesty, we have no right to criticize the way in which the survivors managed to stay alive. In situations like these, you have no idea how you will react to immediate danger, and fight or flight is a very real response to immediate danger.

Freezing and becoming stuck in fear or shock in response to a threat on your life is also commonplace, and we should be giving these victims grace, not debating the methods of their survival.

In many cases, social media can help in solving a case or finding a suspect, but the gravity in which people took to solving this case and adopting it as their own shows the way many Americans enjoy watching true crime play out in real time and treating it like a Netflix documentary series.

They are entertained by the murders, the manhunt and the uncovering of the night the students’ lives were taken by Bryan Kohberger.

And yes, this case is important to follow — it is unbelievable that the behaviors and actions of Kohberger were not monitored sooner or looked upon as suspicious even more so, but this case is not a true crime documentary about a murder from years ago; it’s not fictionalized like “Law and Order” nor meant for our entertainment.

This is a real case, with real loss of life, victims and families still grieving over the deaths of their loved ones taken just three months ago. Be sensitive, be respectful and most of all do not treat this case as a form of entertainment, the legacy of their lives is worth more than that.