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The Idaho College Students Join A Long List Of Women Punished By Men's Inability To Cope With Rejection

Photo: Instagram / Pennsylvania State Police 
Idaho murder victims, suspect Bryan Kohberger

It has been nearly three months since four University of Idaho students were found brutally stabbed to death in their off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho. 

Although there is finally a suspect in custody, the families of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin will be left to wonder if there are any conceivable actions that could have been taken to prevent this tragedy from happening in the first place. 

Like many crimes in which women are the victims, evidence emerging from the case suggests that these four students were victims of a man whose desire to commit this murder was fostered by a society that normalizes male violence and makes it nearly impossible for women to come forward to protect themselves.

Bryan Kohberger may be another man whose response to rejection was violence.

Recent evidence has indicated that the suspected killer, 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger, may have stalked his victims on social media just weeks before the grisly murders. 

And while it's unclear if the women were aware of his advances, there would have been no easy or safe way to respond if they did.

The law and society’s treatment of women when they accuse men of momentous crimes against them mean that many often choose to ignore or downplay uncomfortable advances of men out of fear of not being believed or taken seriously.

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Kohberger repeatedly messaged one of the victims and was ignored. 

Weeks before police were called to the deadly crime scene, one of the female victim's phones revealed messages from Kohberger via Instagram DMs (direct message). 

Although the victim’s identity remains unconfirmed, authorities believe that an Instagram account operated by Kohberger was used to send a series of messages after failing to receive a reply to the first one. 

"He slid into one of the girls' DMs several times but she didn't respond," the source tells PEOPLE Magazine. "Basically, it was just him saying, 'Hey, how are you?' But he did it again and again." 

The victim did not respond to any of the messages. 

Further evidence obtained from PEOPLE revealed that Kohberger followed all three of the female victims on his now-removed Instagram account. 

Authorities are unsure why none of Kohberger’s responses received an answer, but point out the fact that the victim may have never even seen them if they went directly into her message requests.

But this speaks to a wider concern, how can women ever truly protect themselves if even refusing to engage with potentially dangerous men does not work?

RELATED: I Was Stalked By My Rapist — And Couldn't Legally Stop Him

Kaylee Goncalves had expressed concerns that she had a “stalker.” 

Three weeks before the murders, Goncalves confided to a local vape shop owner that she was stalked by an individual at night as she was going to and from bars, “either by the campus or down on Main Street.” 

The store owner added that Goncalves and Madison Mogen, another victim of the murders, always entered the store with a group.

“You could tell they were all obviously trying to keep Kaylee safe and be there for her as good friends,” the owner said to News Nation. 

It appears that Goncalves never reported the alleged stalker to the police — perhaps because of the well-documented history of stalking reports not being adequately investigated by police.

According to a 2017 report from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers.

RELATED: Man Dubbed An 'Incel' Shares Video Telling Police He Stalked Woman Because She Is 'Crazy' & 'Wanted' Him To

An investigator claims Kohberger may have had an 'incel complex.'

Although a motive is still unclear, some speculate that Kohberger was growing angry with the victim’s failure to respond to his messages and decided to take out his anger in an unimaginable way. 

“There’s no indication that he was getting frustrated with her lack of response,” the source mentioned. “But he was definitely persistent.” 

However, a former FBI investigator, Pete Yachmetz, believes that Kohberger may have had an “incel complex” and may have been attempting to “assert some type of dominance” by allegedly stabbing the victim who had not engaged with him. 

The term “incel” is used to describe men who have difficulties establishing romantic and sexual relationships. According to Psychology Today, incels lack proper social skills and experience loneliness, qualities that Kohberger possesses. 

Incel behavior is bred in the same landscape where women are conditioned to downplay the acts committed against them and discouraged from reporting men.

“I believe a continued stabbing of a victim indicates … an uncontrollable rage and extreme anger … I think he may have developed a sort of incel complex,” Yachmetz said. 

Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told Newsweek that she believes the motive is "femicide," explaining that Kohberger was likely an individual that "was rejected," and "who's never been able to be accepted in the types of group that Kaylee and Maddie were."

If this is the case, Kohberger is not the only man to allegedly resort to the killing after being rejected by a woman. 

RELATED: Sister Of 'Hoodie Guy' Seen With Idaho Victims Responds To Harassment From Online Sleuths Accusing Him Of Murder

Other men have reacted violently toward women who did not engage with their advances. 

In October 2022, Nicole Hammond rejected one of her male co-workers’ repeated messages and advances, telling him that she did not want to be “touched” or “manipulated” by him. 

She was found dead in the parking lot of her workplace the following morning. 

28-year-old Hammond was allegedly shot by 36-year-old Michael Carpenter after weeks of resisting his advances toward her. 

Other co-workers claimed that Hammond did not report the incident to management and they stated that there had been “no indication that there was anything awry.” 

The Idaho murder victims, along with other women, may have not gone to the police due to their lack of action involving these cases. 

Women are often reluctant to get law enforcement involved when they are victims of stalking and harassment. Unfortunately, this is due to their cases being dismissed. 

According to BBC’s Shared Data Unit, the rate of reported stalking incidents has halved in the last two years. A third of stalking cases are dropped due to a lack of evidence and stalking charge rates have dropped from 11% to 6% from 2020 to 2022. 

This does not indicate that stalking incidents themselves have decreased. It just means that they are reported to the police far less frequently. 

How can we expect crimes against women to be taken care of efficiently if there is no trust in the law actually being enforced until it is too late and a situation ends like that of the Idaho murders? 

It is time to start taking our police and justice systems accountable so that women can feel safer and confident that if they do not answer an Instagram DM, it will not end in their life being cut short. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships. 

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