“I am stuck in the depths of my mind, or I have to constantly battle my demons. Am I here? Or am I fake? I feel myself slipping away.”
Bryan Kohberger – the suspect accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022 – is 28 years old, but that quote is from way back in 2011 when he was just 16. According to famed journalist Howard Blum at Air Mail and other sources, Kohberger wrote often on an early social media platform called Tapatalk.
In his posts, he reportedly talked about a condition known as “visual snow” that he claimed to have, which Blum describes as a “rare but very real and chronic neurological condition” that causes those who suffer from it to see the world “through a glass darkly” as though they are “looking at a television screen and the picture is fluttering.” Blum explains that vision “is obscured by amorphous grayish waves and scattering flickering dots” and there is no medical consensus as to whether it is a “disease” or “psychological condition.”
A Troubled Teen
If his online posts or any reliable guide, visual snow had at times buried the teenage Bryan Kohberger’s existence in an avalanche of despondency and desperation. Some of his most telling teenage posts give us a window into who he might become. Below are a few:
“I have completely disconnected from reality. I feel all the time that I’m living in my own reality. It seems as if my brain chemistry is altered from this, even though I am certain it’s not. First, I felt very uninterested in the things I usually like to do, but then it changed to the point I saw no reason for anything and everything became boring to me. I feel at times completely disconnected and as if I can’t live like a normal person. When I think about my future, I think about how I will barely remember my mother and father, etc. because I have an altered memory and also have been unable to think of them due to the 10 things I think about non stop all at once (visual snow, altered brain, tinnitus, disappointment, regret, etc.) I think that possibly I could have brought this onto myself from post traumatic stress disorder or something similar, but I can’t tell what it is. I remember how it was before and remember that I felt like it before. It is all real bullsh-t. If I have any chemistry change, I have this detox program that can fix it.”October 29, 2010
“I always feel as if I am not there, completely depersonalized. Mentally, I experienced fog, lack of comprehension at some times: I feel like my life is a movie (depersonalization), depression, no interest in activity, constant thoughts of suicide, crazy thoughts, delusions of grandeur, anxiety, poor self image, poor social skills, no emotion. I feel like nothing has a point to it. When I get home, I am mean to my family. This started when VS [visual snow] did. I feel no emotion and, along with the depersonalization, I can say and do whatever I want with little remorse. Everyone hates me pretty much. I am an a–hole.”May 12, 2011
“I’ve had this horrible depersonalization go on in my life for almost two years. I often find myself making simple human interactions, but it is as if I’m playing a role-playing game such as Oblivion. I can see what is going on. I am slightly into it, but I can pause the game and focus on my real life. In this case, my life is the game and my old self can be reached by pausing the game. But how? I often think of things that humans do, things I’ve done my whole life. I feel like an organic sack of meat with no self worth as I’m starting to view everything as this. Everything I have ever done makes no sense. How did things get this way? How am I wearing this shirt? And who decided that humans shall wear shirts like this? Are we all just advanced animals with possession? Or is there more? More that I can’t see? I can’t connect. I do everything as if I would if I was playing Oblivion, pointless and full of nothing, out of reality. I’m moving out of my house. My last holidays were already lived. But where was I? As my family group hugs and celebrates, I’m stuck in this void of nothing, feeling completely no emotion, feeling nothing. I feel dirty, like there’s dirt inside my head, my mind. I’m always dizzy and confused. I feel no self worth. I am intelligent, but I feel the opposite. I say things that don’t mean. The last holiday in my house, the house I grew up in, the house I was contributed to, the house I once felt at home in is past. As I hugged my family, I look into their faces I see nothing. It is like I’m looking at a video game but less. I feel less than mentally damaged. It is like I have severe brain damage and stuck in the depths of my mind.”July 4, 2011
These posts paint a picture of a severely depressed and disturbed young man, who is riddled with pain and feeling himself “slipping away from the balance of normality, constantly burdened by visual snow and the sound of screaming torture.”
And it wasn’t just the posts on Tapatalk. As Blum lays out, there was also bristling anger uncovered by internet sleuths who have traced his teenage email address to a posting on Soundcloud. Eleven years ago, Kohberger’s defiant moods took flight in a howling rap song. “You are not my equal/You are evil but I’m the devil,” he challenged in the lyrics.
Turning a Corner
During high school, reports suggest Kohberger was a bit of a misfit and an outcast. He was overweight, and, according to friends who knew him at the time, he fell into drugs. First it was marijuana and then heroin. He began focusing on eating healthier and found kickboxing to lose weight.
Kohberger was able to straighten his life out – or so it seemed. Whether his internal anguish ever abated is a much trickier question. I talked to Blum about in March in episode 515:
“Everyone has talked about how he seems to be planning the murders so carefully… I think he was really spending the past year, at least, trying to overcome all his internal demons to try to find a way to prevent himself from killing people… At this point, he’s made a remarkable recovery from a young man who used heroin. He’s gotten into a junior college and succeeds to get into college and winds up at a very reputable graduate school in criminal justice where he’s a teaching assistant… He’s pushed his father out of his life, now he’s taking his father back in the life. They’re going to make a cross country trip for Christmas…
At the same time, he knows who he is and how he will always be an outsider. And he’s trying to find his way in, and he really can’t. I think that’s also an untold story, part speculation at this point, that we want to try to get more… This man who sees himself as someone more sinned against than sinning and that his life is, in its way, a horror story. It’s also a tragedy, too.”– Howard Blum, March 2023
After Kohberger graduated high school, he went to college at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. He got his Bachelor’s degree in 2020 and a master’s degree in criminal justice in 2022, but Kohberger may have returned to an old habit: Posting about himself online.
A Return to Social Media?
There was massive interest in the Idaho murders case online and several reporters believe Kohberger himself was among the crew on social media openly discussing the case. One Facebook user named “Pappa Rodger” was a regular contributor to a discussion group about the case.
One of his posts seemed to indicate he knew something about the circumstances of the murder or at least took a very lucky guess. “Of the evidence released, the murder weapon has been consistent as a large fixed blade knife,” Pappa Rodger wrote last November. “This leads me to believe they found the sheath.” This was posted before the public reports that police had indeed found the knife sheath inside that house.
Meanwhile on Reddit, in the “Moscow Murders Group” – Moscow being the town where the killings took place – one user named “InsideLooking” seemed to have inside details about the method behind the murders:
“Speculation: Killer parked behind the house. Approached property through tree line. Entered sliding door and left it open. Committed murders and exited sliding door. One knife according to the coroner statement. Time of murder approximately 3:20am to 3:40am according to car fleeing scene and on camera on Highway 8 approximately 3:45am. Vehicle left skid marks upon exit.”
Since Kohberger was arrested and held without bail, Pappa Rodger and InsideLooking have not posted on Facebook or Reddit.
You can check out Megyn’s full analysis by tuning in to episode 690 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.