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Police: No evidence Bryan Kohberger is tied to the death of Pennsylvania woman

Zach Wilkinson/AP

A Pennsylvania police department in a public statement said that Bryan Kohberger, a Pennsylvania resident accused of killing four students in Moscow, Idaho, isn’t connected to the disappearance of a 45-year-old woman.

Dana Smithers, of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, went missing in May 2022. Nearly a year later, in April, the Stroud Area Regional Police Department discovered her remains, according to a news release. NBC reported that the cause and manner of Smithers’ death are undetermined.

Smithers was last seen in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, which is about 15 miles from where Kohberger’s parents live. While police are still investigating Smithers’ death, they’ve made it clear, according to a news release, that her disappearance isn’t in “any way tied” to Kohberger.

The 28-year-old former grad student has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbings of the University of Idaho students. He chose not to enter a plea at his arraignment and instead chose to “stand silent,” so 2nd District Judge John Judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

The Pennsylvania police department’s statement came after several news outlets, including CNN, reported that Kohberger’s parents were asked to testify at a grand jury proceeding in Pennsylvania. CNN reported it’s unclear the potential crime that jurors are investigating and that, by law in Monroe County, grand jurors can only look into crimes that allegedly occurred within the county.

Stroud Area Regional Police Chief Jennifer Lyon didn’t respond to questions from the Idaho Statesman seeking clarity about the grand jury. Grand jury proceedings are secret.

A Facebook page, initially created to help locate Smithers, had several posts speculating about Kohberger’s alleged involvement.

Stacey Anne, Smithers’ sister, in January — before her sister was found dead — thanked those who reached out on the Facebook page “regarding the possibility of the suspect in the horrific murders in Idaho having been in our area around the time of” her sister’s disappearance. She added that she passed along the information to local law enforcement.

After the alleged connection between the two cases hit several national news outlets, a woman who helped raise awareness about Smithers’ case posted on the Facebook page asking people to stop speculating and bombarding the Smithers family with questions.