What happened to Dana Smithers? Woman whose death now linked to Bryan Kohberger

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The horrifying case of four University of Idaho students butchered in an off-campus home has taken another dramatic twist after it emerged that the parents of their accused killer are testifying in a separate case thousands of miles away in Pennsylvania.

In a bombshell development this week, it emerged that Bryan Kohberger’s parents have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating the disappearance and death of mother-of-three Dana Smithers.

Smithers, 45, was last seen alive in May 2022.

Her remains were finally discovered last month with her cause of death still a mystery.

It remains unclear what connection – if any – her disappearance and death may have to Mr Kohberger, who was living close to Smithers at the time she vanished.

But multiple reports have revealed that Mr Kohberger’s parents Michael and Maryann Kohberger have been ordered to testify in the case.

A source told CNN that the accused killer’s mother has already given evidence to the grand jury while his father is expected to testify on Thursday.

Any information in the case can then be turned over to prosecutors in Idaho who have charged Mr Kohberger with the quadruple murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20.

So who was Dana Smithers and what happened to her?

Dana Smithers’ disappearance

In May 2022, Smithers vanished without a trace back from Monroe County – the same Pennsylvania county where Mr Kohberger was living at the time before he moved cross-country to Washington state that summer to pursue a graduate degree program in criminal justice.

A ring video camera captured her leaving a friend’s house at around 11.05pm on the night of 28 May, holding her cellphone in her hand.

She was never seen alive again. Smithers’ cellphone, wallet and daily medication were all found at her home.

Dana Smithers was found dead last month

(Stacey Smithers)

She was reported missing days later with the mother-of-three’s family saying that she would never have stayed away from her youngest daughter for that length of time.

At the time, the Pennsylvania State Police and local police carried out searches of Glen Park in Stroudsburg – a heavily wooded area close to her last known sighting. The search did not turn up anything.

A missing persons report described her as a 45-year-old white female, 5 foot 5 inches, approximately 165 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair and last seen wearing black jeans with a burgundy shirt.

For over a year, the mother-of-three’s family desperately searched for answers.

Remains found

Almost one year later – on 27 April – Smithers’ remains were found in a wooded area in Stroudsburg.

Stroud Area Regional Police said that a Borough employee had discovered decomposing human remains in a wooded area close to Park Avenue in the Borough of Stroudsburg.

Due to extensive decomposition, the gender and identity of the individual was unclear at the time.

Using dental records, the remains were later identified as belonging to Smithers.

Her cause and manner of death is not yet known.

What is Bryan Kohberger’s connection to the case?

Despite the bombshell development, Mr Kohberger has a solid alibi for Smither’s disappearance and is likely not connected, a source told Eyewitness News.

The grand jury investigation is still ongoing.

It is not clear what the Mr Kohberger’s parents Michael and Maryann Kohberger are being asked in connection to the case.

However, it comes following a report that one of the accused killer’s older sisters grew increasingly suspicious that her brother could have been involved in the Idaho murders prior to his arrest.

Bryan Kohberger in court for his arraignment over the Idaho murders


Her suspicions were so great that – at one point – several family members searched Mr Kohberger’s white Hyundai Elantra for possible evidence of the crime when the family gathered to spend the holidays together back in Pennsylvania, sources told NBC’s Dateline.

In the Smithers’ case, a lawyer for Mr Kohberger’s parents tried unsuccessfully to have the subpoenas cancelled, the source told CNN.

Pennsylvania judges will then be permitted to share transcripts of the grand jury witness testimony with law enforcement agencies across the country in Idaho.

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