The parents of the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students last November have been called to testify before a grand jury in Pennsylvania.
A source close to the case told NewsNation’s Brian Entin that the parents have been called to speak to a grand jury in the Dana Smithers case. Smithers was 45 years old when she went missing in May 2022 in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, where the Idaho suspect lived with his parents at the time.
The source also told the outlet that the suspect, who is not being named per Daily Wire policy, has a solid alibi and likely had nothing to do with Smithers’ disappearance. The grand jury, however, is continuing its proceedings and the investigation into Smithers’ case is ongoing.
The suspect was indicted last week on charges including first-degree murder and appeared in court on Monday for his arraignment. The suspect wore a bullet-proof vest under his orange jumpsuit, the Daily Mail reported.
He reportedly stood silently when the judge asked him to enter his plea, so the judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. With pleas set, prosecutors now have 60 days to decide whether to pursue the death penalty. His public defender also asked the judge to set a trial date in October.
The suspect was arrested six weeks after four friends, Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Ethan Chapin, 20; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21, were stabbed to death on November 13, 2022.
Calling the suspect’s parents before a grand jury appears to be part of an attempt by police to see whether the suspect is responsible for other unsolved crimes.
Retired FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer previously told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo that police could look at the suspect for similar murders in Pennsylvania.
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“If they are looking at something very specific that’s unsolved with these parameters, they’re probably looking in the right direction,” she told the outlet. “I think it is a signature-type crime.”
Defense attorney Mark Geragos told the outlet that it’s common for police to link suspects like this to other unsolved crimes.
“In virtually every high profile case that is a circumstantial evidence murder case, you almost inevitably hear of some other unsolved murder and law enforcement looks to see if they can link whoever the suspect is,” Geragos told NewsNation. “For one thing I suppose it fills a vacuum — ‘Why did somebody do this when you don’t have a motive?’ That is the most obvious explanation.”
More than 60 warrants have also been served to major companies and banks in connection to the murders, including Amazon, DoorDash, Reddit, and the owner of dating sites such as Tinder and OkCupid. The contents of the warrants are “sealed and redacted” as part of the murder case against the 28-year-old suspect.
Monroe County First Assistant Michael Mancuso told BRC 13 that when the suspect was arrested, he “was found awake in the kitchen area dressed in shorts and a shirt [and] wearing latex medical type gloves and apparently was taking his personal trash and putting it into … separate zip lock baggies.”
Mancuso implied that the suspect was removing the trash to conceal his DNA. Investigators had been surveilling the home for weeks prior to the suspect’s arrest, and during that time, they searched the trash cans outside.
“A trash pull that was done days before recovered DNA profiles but not from him, only from his family members,” Mancuso told the outlet.