Years Before Firing from University Job, Idaho Suspect Bryan Kohberger Was Problematic 'Fish Cutter' Employee

"He was withdrawn and didn't show improvement," a former employer of Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger tells PEOPLE

Bryan Kohberger
Bryan Kohberger. Photo: Monroe County (Pa.) Correctional Facility via AP

Years before Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger was reportedly fired from his teaching job at Washington State University, he worked as a "fish cutter" at a lake in Pennsylvania.

According to Charles Conklin, the owner of Big Brown Fish and Pay Lakes in Effort, Pa., Kohberger, 28, previously worked for him for a period of four months in 2011 as a seasonal employee when Kohberger was in high school.

Kohberger was trained by Conklin to cut and filet raw fish, using industry-standard knives.

However, Conklin says due to Kohberger's demeanor, he forbid him from ever interacting with customers.

"He never warmed up and got friendly," Conklin tells PEOPLE. "Most kids that work here, we consider like family."

"He was withdrawn and didn't show improvement," adds Conklin.

Eleven years later, Kohberger was reportedly fired from his job as a teaching assistant in WSU's Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, according to a termination letter obtained by NewsNation.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Citing two separate alleged "altercations" with a professor (one in September and another in December), Kohberger's alleged failure to meet "expectations as a T.A.," and an alleged lack of "progress regarding professionalism," the university decided to cut ties with him effective December 31, 2022, according to the outlet — a day after his arrest in connection with the Idaho killings.

Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Kaylee Goncalves
Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Kaylee Goncalves. Instagram

The reported firing took place weeks after the killings of University of Idaho students Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.

Goncalves, 21, Mogen, 21, Kernodle, 20, and Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death in an off-campus rental home in Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 13. Ethan was not a resident in the home, but was staying overnight with girlfriend Kernodle, PEOPLE previously reported.

Kohberger has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of felony burglary, after DNA and cell phone pings allegedly linked him to the crime scene.

He's not yet entered a plea to the charges.

Limited information is being shared about the case due to a sweeping gag order that hinders officials involved with the case, including his defense attorney Anne Taylor, from talking to the public or media.

Kohberger will appear in court on June 26.

Related Articles