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Israel KEYES

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 3 - 8 +
Date of murder: 2011 - 2012
Date of arrest: March 13, 2012
Date of birth: January 7, 1978
Victim profile: Samantha Koenig, 18 / Bill and Lorraine Currier
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Alaska/Vermont/New York/Washington, USA
Status: Committed suicide in his cell by cutting his wrists and choking himself with a bed sheet on December 2, 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Israel Keyes (January 7, 1978 – December 2, 2012) was an American criminal who committed suicide in his Anchorage, Alaska jail cell after confessing to being a serial killer, rapist, arsonist, burglar, and bank robber.

The earliest crime to which Keyes admitted was the violent sexual assault of a teenage girl in Oregon, sometime between 1996 and 1998. He was captured and being held in custody, awaiting trial for the murder of Samantha Koenig, when he committed suicide in prison.

Early life

Keyes was born in Richmond, Utah in 1978. He was raised in a Mormon family, and was homeschooled.His family moved to the Aladdin Road area, north of Colville, Washington, where they became neighbors and friends with the family of Chevie Kehoe, and occasionally attended a Christian Identity church. Eventually, however, Keyes rejected religion entirely, identifying as an atheist shortly before his arrest.

Keyes served in the U.S. Army from 1998 through 2000 at Fort Lewis, Fort Hood, and in Egypt. He started a construction business in 2007 in Alaska, Keyes Construction, working as a handyman, contractor, and construction worker.

Victims

Keyes' first victims were in Washington state in the late 1990s. Keyes admitted to investigators that he killed four people in Washington State, claims which are the subject of an active investigation by the FBI as well as police in that state. He lived in several places in the state from the late 1990s until about 2008.

As a specialist in the U.S. Army, he was stationed at Fort Lewis sometime between 1998 to 2001. Keyes also lived in the small city of Colville in Eastern Washington and in the Makah Reservation community of Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula. Keyes did not have a felony criminal record in Washington, although he had been cited in Thurston County (in or near Olympia) for driving without a valid license and, in an earlier incident, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. Authorities are reviewing unsolved murder and missing persons cases to determine which cases, if any, may link to Keyes.

He confessed to at least one murder in New York State. Authorities have not determined the identity, age, or gender of the victim, or when and where the murder may have occurred, but regard the confession as credible. Keyes had ties to New York State, he owned 10 acres and a run down cabin in the Town of Constable. Keyes also confessed to bank robberies in New York and Texas. The FBI later confirmed that Keyes robbed the Community Bank branch in Tupper Lake, New York in April 2009. The FBI said that Keyes threatened people in the bank with a handgun, although there were no injuries. He also told authorities that he burglarized a Texas home and set it on fire.

Keyes was also linked to the deaths of Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vermont. Along with his confession, authorities say they have enough evidence to link Keyes to the murders. The Vermont couple was last seen after leaving work in June, 2011. Keyes reportedly broke into the Curriers' home on the night of June 8th and tied them up before driving to an abandoned farmhouse, where he shot Bill Currier before sexually assaulting and strangling Lorraine Currier. However, their bodies have not been found.

Two years prior to the Curriers' deaths, Keyes hid a "murder kit" near their home, which included a hand gun and various supplies. Keyes used these supplies during the murder of the Curriers. After the murders, he moved most of the items to a new hiding place in Parrishville, New York, where they remained until after his arrest.

Keyes' last known murder was the kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, a barista working in Anchorage, Alaska. Authorities said that Keyes kidnapped her from her place of employment, stole her debit card and other property, then murdered her the following day. Police stated that Keyes sexually assaulted Koenig before he murdered her. After Koenig's death, Keyes left on a cruise out of New Orleans, leaving Koenig's body in a shed. When he returned home, he took a photograph of her body with a 4-day-old issue of the Anchorage Daily News, maintaining the illusion that she was still alive in his ransom demand. After demanding US$30,000 in ransom, Keyes dismembered Koenig and disposed of her body in Matanuska Lake north of Anchorage.

Investigation and arrest

After the murder of Koenig, Keyes' demanded ransom was paid. Police tracked withdrawals from the account as Keyes moved throughout the American Southwest. During that time, in a controvesial move, the police refused to release surveillance video of Koenig's abduction.

Keyes was arrested in Texas after using Koenig's debit card, which he had previously used in New Mexico and Arizona. Keyes was subsequently extradited to Alaska, where he confessed to Koenig's murder. He was indicted in the case, and his trial was scheduled to begin in March 2013.

Modus operandi

Keyes planned murders long ahead of time and took extraordinary action to avoid detection. Unlike most serial killers, he didn't have a victim profile. He always killed far from home, and never in the same area twice. On his murder trips, he kept his mobile phone turned off and paid for items with cash. He had no connection to any of his victims. In the Currier murders, he flew to Chicago, and there rented a car to drive the 1000 additional miles to Vermont. He then used the murder kit he had hidden two years earlier to perform the murders.

Keyes admired Ted Bundy and shared several similarities with him: Both were heavy drinkers, methodical, intelligent and felt a possession over their victims. However, there are notable differences. Bundy's murders were spread throughout the country, mainly because he lived in many different areas, and not as an intentional effort to avoid detection as was the case with Keyes. Bundy only targeted attractive young women, usually with hair parted down the middle, while Keyes had no particular type of victim.

Death

While being held in jail at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on suspicion of murder, he committed suicide on December 2, 2012, via self-inflicted wrist cuts and strangulation. He was survived by at least one child, a school-age daughter.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Serial killer's double life: How Israel Keyes hid in plain sight for a decade

By Yereth Rosen - Reuters.com

December 26, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, - A confessed serial killer from Alaska who hid in plain sight and whose crimes went undetected for more than a decade, was ultimately caught after he gave in to his compulsions and struck close to home.

Israel Keyes, in jail since March for the kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old coffee stand server Samantha Koenig in Anchorage, Alaska, confessed to that and other violent crimes. Then guards found him dead on Dec. 2 after he committed suicide by cutting his wrists and choking himself with a bed sheet. He was 34.

Keyes, a U.S. Army veteran, lived a quiet life in one of Anchorage's best neighborhoods, doing well-regarded handyman work for unsuspecting customers. He had been due to go on trial in March for Koenig's death, and investigators believe he killed eight to 11 people, if not more.

A picture of Keyes' double-life emerged from his own words -- authorities released excerpts from 40 hours of interviews with investigators to reporters -- and from interviews and news conferences given by investigators, who said they believed his confessions were sincere.

"Everything that he told them has been borne out," Lieutenant Dave Parker of the Anchorage Police Department said on Sunday.

Keyes admitted that he committed numerous killings, bank robberies and other crimes across the country. He admitted to plans for more killings. He admitted to several unreported crimes and acts of cruelty committed before he started killing people, including the rape of a teenager in Oregon in the late 1990s and torture of animals when he was a child.

His suicide ended the revelations and made him a rarity -- a confessed serial killer who was never convicted of murder.

"It gives us no pleasure to dismiss the charges against Mr. Keyes, but that's what the law requires," said Kevin Feldis, the assistant U.S. attorney leading the prosecution.

The criminal investigation will continue indefinitely, even if there is no prosecution, "because there will inevitably be many, many unknowns," Feldis said.

Keyes was caught in Texas in March with a debit card stolen from Koenig, whom he abducted from her coffee stand in February. Keyes admitted to kidnapping, raping and killing her, then dismembering her body and dumping her remains in an icy lake before traveling out of Alaska.

Once in custody, he also confessed to the 2011 killings of Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vermont, and the disposal of four bodies in Washington state and one in New York state.

Only three homicides have been definitively pinned to him -- those of Koenig and the Curriers -- in large part because Keyes could not identify victims by name.

His motivation was enjoyment, said Monique Doll, an Anchorage homicide detective who worked on the investigation. Throughout his months of jail interviews, Keyes was utterly unapologetic and remorseless, she said.

"Israel Keyes didn't kidnap and kill people because he was crazy. He didn't kidnap and kill people because his deity told him to or because he had a bad childhood. Israel Keyes did this because he got an immense amount of enjoyment out of it, much like an addict gets an immense amount of enjoyment out of drugs," Doll told a news conference.

He also enjoyed staying under the radar, officials said. He targeted total strangers, avoiding anyone with any possible connection, traveling hundreds of miles to target random victims at secluded parks, trail heads and other remote locations.

He broke some of his own rules when he killed Koenig, abducting her at her workplace on a busy Anchorage street, where security cameras caught some of his actions, and killing her at his own house, officials said. Keyes admitted he considered merely robbing Koenig -- whom he did not know -- and instead gave in to his compulsions, Doll said.

"In prior cases, he had enough self-control to walk away from it," Doll said. "But with Samantha, he didn't."

Koenig's case dominated local news, and supporters raised a reward fund, held candlelight vigils and gave self-defense lessons to coffee stand servers.

Keyes got a thrill from following the news coverage, so long as his name was not linked to the case, investigators said. When he was identified by a Vermont television station in the s u mmer as the suspect in the murder of the Curriers, he became so angry he stopped speaking to investigators for two months.

WHITE SUPREMACIST BACKGROUND

Keyes grew up in Washington state in a fundamentalist Christian family that, in the past, attended a white-supremacist, anti-Semitic church but later moved out of the region and became affiliated with other congregations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center civil rights group.

Keyes served in the U.S. Army for three years, including a brief stint in Egypt, and was discharged from Fort Lewis Army Base in Washington state in 2001. In his interviews, he said he was anxious for his military service to end so that he could start murdering people, Feldis said.

He moved to Alaska in 2007 and lived with his daughter and a girlfriend in Anchorage's Turnagain neighborhood, near many of the city's most prominent citizens, top attorneys and law-enforcement officials, operating a one-man contracting business.

"He was well-known in Anchorage as a really good handyman," said state Senator Hollis French, who lived around the corner from Keyes.

All the while, Keyes said in his interviews, he was "two different people."

"There's no one who knows me or who has ever known me, who knows anything about me, really," Keyes said in one of the interviews.

Keyes told authorities he almost killed a young couple and an Anchorage police officer at a beach overlook, about a month before killing the Curriers in Vermont.

Keyes said he was hiding in the park with a gun and a silencer and ready to ambush his victims; he wanted to test the silencer that he would later bring to the East Coast on his trip to kill the Curriers. He stopped when a second police officer arrived on the scene.

"It could have got ugly, but fortunately for the cop guy, his backup showed up," a chuckling Keyes said one interview. "I almost got myself into a lot of trouble on that one."

The silencer wound up in a stockpile of murder supplies that Keyes stashed in upstate New York, near a home he owned there. Keyes admitted to placing several such caches around the country, investigators said.

Officials have found two so far -- the New York stockpile and one in the Anchorage suburb of Eagle River that contained a shovel and bottles of liquid clog remover, material for concealing a body and speeding decomposition.

Until he was arrested, Keyes' plan was to leave Alaska this year and work as an itinerant contractor making repairs in hurricane-struck areas of the United States, Feldis said.

"That would allow him to move from place to place and commit murders," Feldis said.

 
 

Serial killer caught in Alaska would only say 'why not' when asked for motive

By Mark Thiessen - Associated Press

December 8, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Confessed serial killer Israel Keyes admitted he enjoyed killing people, but couldn't or wouldn't give investigators a more meaningful answer when quizzed why he did it.

"There were just times, a couple of times, where we would try to get a why," said Anchorage Police officer Jeff Bell, who helped interrogate Keyes for hours.

"He would have this term, he would say, 'A lot of people ask why, and I would be, like, why not?'" Bell said.

Keyes confessed to killing eight people across the United States, but alluded to additional murders, FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden and Bell told The Associated Press.

"Based on some of the things he told us, and some of the conversations we had with him, we believe the number is less than 12," Goeden said. "We don't know for sure. He's the only one who could have ultimately answered that."

They may never know the true number.

Keyes slit his wrist and strangled himself with bedding Sunday at the Anchorage Correctional Facility. He was facing a March trial on federal murder charges in the kidnapping and death of an 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from an Anchorage coffee stand Feb. 1.

He also wasn't going to stop. Authorities said he had weapons caches or body disposal kits stashed across the country.

One such disposal kit was found north of Anchorage. It included a shovel, plastic bags and bottles of Drano, which he told authorities would speed the decomposition of bodies.

A murder kit found in upstate New York had weapon parts, a silencer, ligatures, ammunition and garbage bags.

Keyes said other murder kits are hidden in Washington state, Wyoming, Texas and, investigators believe, somewhere in the Southwest, possibly Arizona.

Goeden and Bell conducted up to 40 hours of interviews with Keyes after his March arrest in Texas. During that time, Keyes confessed to killing Koenig, along with Bill and Lorraine Currier in Vermont, and five other people — although details for those victims were scarce.

The interviews also revealed Keyes' motivation, which was simple, Goeden and Bell said.

"He enjoyed it. He liked what he was doing," Goeden said. "He talked about getting a rush out of it, the adrenalin, the excitement out of it."

Keyes also liked seeing coverage of his crimes in the media, and he appeared to get a thrill out of talking about some of them with investigators, Goeden and Bell said.

His crimes started small with burglaries and thefts — until the urge escalated to murder.

Bell said Keyes told investigators the first violent crime he committed was a sexual assault in Oregon, in which he let the victim go.

"He planned on killing her but didn't," Bell said.

Keyes said the rape occurred sometime between 1996 and 1998 along the Deshutes River near Maupin, Ore., after he got the girl away from her friends. The girl was between the ages of 14 and 18, and would be in her late 20s or 30s now. No police reports were filed, and the FBI is seeking more information on the crime.

Of the five other murders Keyes confessed to, four were in Washington state and one occurred on the East Coast, with the body disposed of in New York.

In the case of the Curriers, authorities say Keyes flew from Alaska to Chicago on June 2, 2011, rented a car and drove almost 1,000 miles to Essex, Vt.

There, he carried out a "blitz" style attack on the Curriers' home, bound the couple and took them to an abandoned house. Bill Currier was shot, and his wife was sexually assaulted and strangled.

Keyes immediately returned to Alaska, and followed the case on his computer by monitoring Vermont media. The couple's bodies were never found after the house was demolished and taken to a landfill.

Leaving the area shortly after a murder was a familiar tactic for Keyes. After he abducted Koenig, he took her to a shed at his Anchorage home, sexually assaulted her and strangled her.

Keyes then left the next day for a two-week cruise, storing Koenig's body in the shed. Upon his return, he dismembered the body and disposed of it in a lake north of Anchorage. He was later arrested in Texas after using Koenig's debit card.

Koenig was his only known victim in Alaska. Goeden and Bell said he never explained why his broke his own rule of never killing anyone in the town where he lived because it's easier to be connected to such a killing.

The only mistake Keyes said he made was letting his rental car be photographed by an ATM when withdrawing money in Texas.

Unlike his earlier killings, the deaths of the Curriers and Koenig received a lot of news coverage.

"He was feeding off the media attention in the end," Bell said.

That wasn't the only change. His time between murders was growing shorter.

"He talked about that time period in between crimes, that over the last few years, that became quicker," Goeden said.

During their interviews, Keyes was willing to talk about the Koenig and Currier killings since he knew authorities had evidence against him.

"It was chilling to listen to him. He was clearly reliving it to a degree, and I think he enjoyed talking about it," Bell said of the Koenig and Currier deaths. But in the other cases, Keyes wasn't as forthcoming because he knew investigators had little on them.

Keyes, a construction contractor, told investigators that they knew him better than anyone, and that this was the first time he'd ever spoken about what he called his double life.

"A couple of times, he would kind of chuckle, tell us how weird it was to be talking about this," Bell said.

Even though he was talking to investigators, Keyes didn't want his name made public in any of the other investigations, especially the Curriers, because of the fallout of publicity. He threatened to withhold information if his name got out.

"If there was nobody else that he was concerned about, I think he wanted his story out there. He wanted people to know what he did," Goeden said. "What he was worried about is the impact that was going to have on the people that cared about him and were close to him."

Keyes will be buried Sunday in Washington state.

 
 

FBI Releases Details in Alaska Serial Killer Death

By Rachel D'Oro - Associated Press

December 5, 2012

A security video showing the abduction of an Alaska barista is unnerving on its own, but it only hints at the horror ahead for the 18-year-old woman.

Samantha Koenig would soon be sexually assaulted and strangled after she was kidnapped from an Anchorage coffee stand, her body left in a shed for two weeks while her killer went on a cruise. After he returned, Israel Keyes photographed Koenig for a ransom note and then dismembered her body.

Those details were released by the FBI on Tuesday, two days after Keyes was found dead in his Anchorage jail cell in an apparent suicide. It’s the most comprehensive account yet of a crime at the hands of a man who confessed to the slaying and told authorities he killed at least seven other people across the country over the past decade.

“These details are being provided both to fully explain the courage and resolve Samantha displayed in the final hours of her life, as well as in the hopes that the release of additional details will help investigations of other murders committed by Israel Keyes,” the FBI said in a statement.

Once home from his trip, Keyes posed Koenig’s body to make it appear she was still alive and took a Polaroid photo of her tied up, along with a newspaper dated Feb. 13 — 12 days after the abduction from a coffee stand, according to the FBI. Keyes later typed a ransom note demanding $30,000 from Koenig’s family on the back of a photocopy of the photo and sent a text message to the woman’s boyfriend on her cellphone with directions where he’d left the note at a local dog park.

Keyes dismembered Koenig’s body and disposed of the remains in a frozen lake north of Anchorage after he cut a hole in the ice with a chain saw, authorities said.

Keyes, 34, was arrested in March in Texas, after using Koenig’s stolen debit card at ATMs there and in Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico. He was facing a March trial in Koenig’s death.

After his arrest, Keyes confessed to killing Koenig and at least seven other people. His other known victims were Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., who disappeared in June 2011. Keyes told authorities he also sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine Currier.

The couple’s bodies have not been found.

Keyes did not identify the other victims or say where their remains were, other than that four were killed in Washington state and one was killed on the East Coast with the body disposed of in New York. Keyes had lived in Washington state and had property in upstate New York.

He told one of the lead FBI investigators in the case that his first victim was a teenage girl in Oregon that he sexually assaulted but did not kill, the Anchorage Daily News reported. FBI special agent Jolene Goeden told the newspaper that Keyes admitted that he was a teen at the time and that “he had the intention, he said, of killing her but but did not. And he did let her go.”

Also Tuesday, authorities released video footage of Keyes abducting Koenig, caught by a surveillance camera. Another video sequence shows him returning for Koenig’s cellphone late that night, leaving Koenig bound in his truck, followed four minutes later by a man identified by the FBI as Koenig’s boyfriend, who was looking for her. Keyes would use the cellphone to send text messages to the boyfriend and coffee stand owner that purported to be from Koenig saying she had a bad day and was leaving town for the weekend.

In the first video sequence, Keyes walks up to the small coffee stand and orders an Americano coffee, which Koenig makes. He then pulls out a gun and Koenig is then seen putting her hands up several times. At some point, Keyes makes her turn off the light. The light switch was close to a panic button, but Koenig never pushed it, probably because she was too afraid, police said.

Keyes then climbs into the kiosk and, police said, used zip ties to bind Koenig’s hands behind her back before leading her out. He told Koenig he would let her go if her family paid a ransom, but that was never his intention, police said.

“He knew all along he was going to kill her,” Anchorage homicide Detective Monique Doll said.

Police said Keyes removed the battery from Koenig’s cellphone to avoid being tracked.

Koenig’s body was recovered from the lake in April after Keyes told authorities of its location.

Another video shows a man identified as Keyes getting out of a white pickup truck parked in a nearby parking lot just before the abduction took place, and returning with another person police said was Koenig. The FBI said Koenig broke away at some point and Keyes chased her, tackled her to the ground, and pointed his gun at her, saying she should not do anything to make him kill her.

Police said a license plate, green toolboxes and a ladder rack had been removed from the truck before the abduction, then reinstalled afterward so Keyes could disguise the vehicle.

In the police investigation, the vehicle appeared twice in a list of 750 local white trucks of the same kind, but police scratched it off the list of possibilities because it looked so different.

Authorities said Keyes traveled extensively in the U.S., landing at one location and targeting victims randomly hundreds of miles away. He had never seen Koenig before, but chose the coffee stand because of its location and because it stayed open later than other stands

Keyes told authorities he robbed several banks and used money he made as a general contractor to pay for his travel.

In the Koenig case, he stuck to his own town.

“He broke his own rule,” Doll said.

 
 

Alaska suspect linked to Vermont killing, 5 others

WashingtonExaminer.com

December 4, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Israel Keyes, in jail for the killing of an Alaska barista, gradually began confessing to investigators that he had killed others: a couple in Vermont, four people in Washington state, someone in New York.

But he was slow to come forward with details, warning investigators he would stop talking if his name was released publicly.

"He was very, very, very sensitive to his reputation, as odd at that sounds," Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said. "We had to keep things extra quiet in order to keep him talking with us."

Keyes committed suicide in an Alaska jailhouse Sunday, leaving behind an incomplete picture of a loner who traveled the country for more than a decade, picking victims at random and methodically killing them. Officials believe there are more victims in other states, but they may never know who they are.

Authorities wouldn't say how Keyes killed himself, only that he was alone in his cell. They also did not say whether he left a note.

"We're going to continue to run down leads and continue our efforts to identify his victims so we can bring some closure to the families," said Mary Rook, the FBI supervisor in Alaska.

While under arrest in connection with the disappearance of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, Keyes confessed to the deaths of Bill and Lorraine Currier, of Essex, Vt., who disappeared in June 2011, authorities said. Keyes confessed to other killings without identifying the victims or saying where their remains were located.

The FBI said Monday that Keyes is believed to have committed multiple kidnappings and murders across the country between 2001 and his arrest in March, often flying to an airport, then driving hundreds of miles before targeting victims.

In interviews with investigators, Keyes detailed extensive planning, including burying caches of weapons at various points across the United States. The FBI says it recovered weapons and items used to dispose of bodies from hiding places just north of Anchorage and Blakes Falls Reservoir in New York.

Keyes told investigators he scoped out potential victims at remote locations including campgrounds and cemeteries. He said few of his earlier cases received media attention until the Currier case, telling investigators that one victim had been found but incorrectly labeled as accidental. The FBI says it does not have a name or location in this case.

Keyes also told authorities he robbed several banks to pay for his travel, using money he made as a general contractor as well.

"There's no indication that he was lying," FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said, adding that Keyes' DNA has been put in an FBI database available for other law enforcement agencies to use in their own investigations.

Also on Monday, officials at a news conference in Vermont said Keyes described details of the Curriers killings that had not been released publicly.

Authorities said Keyes flew from Alaska to Chicago, then drove to Vermont and picked the Curriers, a couple in their 50s.

He broke into their home and, in their bedroom, Keyes told police, he bound them with zip ties, forced them into their car and drove them to an abandoned house, where he shot Bill Currier with a gun he brought from Alaska, and then sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine Currier.

Keyes told investigators he chose the Curriers' home because it had an attached garage, no evidence of children or a dog, and the style of the house clued him in to the probable location of the master bedroom.

Keyes previously lived in Washington state before moving to Alaska in 2007 to start a construction business. He also owned property in upstate New York, near the Canadian border.

Ayn Dietrich, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Seattle, said agents are reviewing unsolved murders across the state to determine whether Keyes might have been responsible.

The FBI has consulted with behavior specialists to develop insight into Keyes' personality.

Their analysis is incomplete, but they know he was a loner who didn't have a clear pattern in selecting victims, who varied in gender and age.

Keyes told investigators that he was "two different people."

"The only person who knows about what I'm telling you, the kind of things I'm telling you, is me," he said, according to a March 30 police recording released by the FBI Monday.

Authorities described Keyes as methodical, in the Currier case taking days to find the perfect victim. He was also thorough in disposing of victims' bodies. Only Koenig's body has been recovered.

The FBI contends Keyes killed Koenig less than a day after she was kidnapped. Her body was recovered April 2 from an ice-covered lake north of Anchorage. Her disappearance gripped the city for weeks.

A surveillance camera showed an apparently armed man in a hooded sweat shirt leading her away from the coffee stand. Koenig's friends and relatives set up a reward fund and plastered the city with fliers.

Prosecutors said Keyes stole the debit card from a vehicle she shared that was parked near her home, obtained the personal identification number and scratched the number into the card.

After killing Koenig, Keyes used her phone to send text messages to conceal the abduction. He flew to Texas and returned Feb. 17 to Anchorage, where he sent another text message demanding ransom and directing it to the account connected to the stolen debit card, according to prosecutors.

Keyes made withdrawals from automated teller machines in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest in Texas, according to prosecutors. He was charged with kidnapping resulting in Koenig's death. Keyes could have faced the death penalty in her case.

Koenig's family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teenager and Keyes. Reached by phone Sunday, Koenig's father, James Koenig, declined to comment on Keyes' death.

Marilyn Chates, Bill Currier's mother, said police contacted her some time ago to tell her about Keyes' confession and to tell her that they believed the couple's killing was random. Authorities called Chates on Sunday to tell her of Keyes' suicide.

"After some thinking, our family has been saved the long road ahead — trials, possible plea agreements and possible appeals — and perhaps this was the best thing that could have happened," she said.

___

Ring reported from Burlington, Vt., and Associated Press writers Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, Rebecca Miller n Philadelphia and Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, Vt., contributed to this report.

 
 

Israel Keyes dead in apparent suicide; suspected in Lower 48 deaths

By Lisa Demer - Anchorage Daily News

December 2, 2012

ANCHORAGE — Israel Keyes, accused in the kidnapping and killing of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, was found dead Sunday morning in an apparent jail suicide, and he is suspected in at least seven other deaths outside Alaska, authorities said.

At a hastily called press briefing Sunday, authorities announced his death and made a series of startling revelations, starting with the fact they believe Keyes was a serial killer. The U.S. attorney for Alaska, the top FBI agent here and Anchorage's police chief all spoke, as did those directly working the Keyes case. They disclosed that Keyes had talked repeatedly to investigators.

His killings may date back a decade or longer, the FBI said at the briefing in the U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage. His victims all appeared to be strangers to him, prey from random encounters. And investigators suspect he killed more than the eight they've zeroed in on. He'd fly someplace, rent a car, then drive hundreds of miles away, the FBI said. While he stole from Koenig using her ATM card, and confessed to bank robberies in Texas and New York, his motive did not appear to be financial, authorities said.

Keyes told investigators he killed Koenig, a Vermont couple and five others, Karen Loeffler, U.S. attorney for Alaska, said. Investigators were able to corroborate enough of what he said about the deaths of William and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., to be convinced he was responsible, though they were not able to find the couple's bodies, Loeffler said. Sunday marked the first time officials publicly connected Keyes to the Curriers, who disappeared in June 2011.

He also said he killed four other people in Washington state, where he used to live, and one person in New York state, said Mary Rook, the FBI special agent in charge of the Anchorage office.

Authorities "developed information that he was responsible for multiple additional victims," Rook said. "To our knowledge, there are no other victims here in Alaska. They were all in the Lower 48."

Authorities have not been able to identify the suspected additional victims, or recover their bodies, she said. He didn't tell their names, authorities said."

Even though Mr. Keyes is now dead, our investigation continues," Rook said.

Investigators are analyzing years of financial and travel records to try to piece together Keyes' actions, she said. They have consulted with the FBI behavioral analysis unit based in Quantico, Va., for insight into his personality, she said. The investigation aims to close unsolved homicide and missing person cases, and give some measure of peace to friends and families of the dead, Rook said.

Loeffler described the investigation since Koenig's Feb. 1 disappearance as "massive."

Keyes was found dead in a cell at the Anchorage correctional complex Sunday morning, according to Beth Ipsen, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers. Troopers were notified about 6:30 a.m., she said at Sunday's news conference.

Troopers determined Keyes died "of an apparent suicide," Ipsen said. "I can tell you that he was alone in his cell. ... We don't suspect foul play." Ipsen said troopers are awaiting autopsy results before disclosing how he died. Neither troopers nor the other officials would say if he left a suicide note.

KEYES TALKED ABOUT KILLINGS

Keyes, 34, a once self-employed carpenter and an Army veteran, had been jailed since March on federal charges connected with Koenig's disappearance and death."

What we do know about him is he worked alone," FBI agent Jolene Goeden said. "He traveled a lot. He was a loner. He would go to a state and get a vehicle and he would drive."

Anchorage police and FBI investigators spent dozens of hours talking to Keyes in the months since his arrest, they said Sunday. He was continuing to cooperate, talking to investigators as recently as Thursday, but only letting out bits of information at a time. His suicide hurts the ongoing law enforcement investigation, authorities said."

As of this week, we were still obtaining valuable information from Mr. Keyes," said Kevin Feldis, chief of criminal prosecutions for the U.S. attorney's office in Anchorage.

Before Sunday, police and the FBI had revealed little about the cases under investigation, sticking mainly to scripted statements.

"We needed to keep those lines of communication open," Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said. "He was very, very, very sensitive to his reputation, as odd as that sounds. And we had to keep things extremely quiet to keep him talking to us."

Koenig, a barista, was abducted from Common Grounds Espresso in Midtown as she was closing up the stand around 8 p.m. on Feb. 1. Mew said Sunday that Keyes took her at gunpoint. Family and friends organized a massive search. Volunteers posted fliers with her picture all over Alaska. Hundreds showed up for a Town Square vigil on Feb. 11 at which a pastor pleaded with her kidnapper to free her. But she was already dead."

We are convinced both from the confession, and from corroborating evidence, that Samantha was killed that night, long, long before anybody received reports of her being missing," Mew said.

Surveillance video from the coffee stand showed a struggle but the images were shadowy and didn't help much, he said. A second video from the nearby Home Depot parking lot showed a man and Koenig approaching a white pickup truck, later identified as his 2004 Chevrolet Silverado, but it was shot from a camera hundreds of feet away. The video was pixelated, but investigators were able to pull images from it that eventually helped convince Keyes to talk, authorities said.

Police determined there were about 3,000 similar trucks of around that year in Anchorage. Traffic officers were dispatched to check out every one, Mew said.

"That's the magnitude of this investigation," Mew said. "If you had a white pickup truck of the right year, chances are the Anchorage Police Department was watching your car, and you, during those early days of this investigation."

But that didn't get them to Keyes. Officers hadn't made their way down the list to his truck before his arrest.

ATM TRAIL

Authorities were not prepared to release any details on Sunday about how he killed his victims or about evidence they obtained from searches. His former home in West Anchorage was scoured, as was property he owns in upstate New York. Among other things, investigators hauled away a shed from his Anchorage yard.

Mew and Loeffler said they wanted to first talk to the victims' families. Prosecutors said his sudden death means they will never get the same sense of justice and finality that a jury trial or guilty plea would bring.

Some details are known. In February, Keyes obtained Koenig's debit card -- Mew said he got it from her boyfriend's truck. He began making withdrawals, first in Anchorage and then in the Southwest. He texted police a ransom note from Koenig's cellphone to get more money.

That's why police thought she might be still alive, Mew said. Anchorage authorities were working with the FBI, police departments, sheriff's offices, and state law enforcement all around the Southwest, Mew said.

"We were picking up instant notices of ATM withdrawals, picking up photographs from the ATMs" and traffic cameras, Mew said. Keyes' rental car, a white Ford Focus, showed up in an ATM video.

Agents were up all night following his ATM trail of cash withdrawals and photos, Anchorage police investigator Jeff Bell said.

"We were 10 minutes behind him," Bell said.

Investigators aren't sure whether Koenig was Keyes' last victim. They don't know what all he did in Texas.

SUSPECTED SERIAL KILLER REVEALED

On March 13, a highway patrol officer in Lufkin, Texas, spotted the Ford Focus and pulled it over. Until then, investigators didn't know the name of the man they were looking for, Mew said. Koenig's debit card and cellphone -- with the battery removed to prevent tracking -- were inside, police said.

Keyes was charged with financial fraud and brought to Anchorage. He was interrogated by a team from the FBI, Anchorage police and the U.S. Attorney's Office, and he confessed to Koenig's murder, Loeffler said.

He told them he hid her body under the ice in Matanuska Lake north of Anchorage and used a chain saw to cut a hole and slip her body into the water, Mew said, explaining for the first time how police knew precisely where to look. FBI divers pulled her body out of the lake on April 2.

During that initial confession, investigators and prosecutors began to suspect that Koenig "was likely and sadly not Mr. Keyes' first victim" -- and they all had different reasons for coming to that conclusion, Feldis said. "Which immediately led us to develop a plan of how we were going to get him to talk to us about these other crimes, where the investigation needed to go. That's really what we were doing for the past nine months."

The suspect came across as highly organized and methodical, Feldis said.

Keyes soon admitted he killed the Curriers, Feldis said. He told authorities he had hid their bodies in an abandoned farmhouse in Essex, Vt., but it had been torn down by the time investigators got that information, Mew said. And he said there were more.

Koenig's body is the only one authorities have found so far. Keyes was thorough, Mew said.

None of the officials on Sunday could say what drove Keyes to kill. Investigators are still researching his background. They all struggled to understand why he did it, Loeffler said.

"This isn't a concrete thing that somebody can answer," she said.

In a court appearance in May, Keyes tried to flee the courtroom, vaulting over the rail separating defendants and lawyers from spectators. Deputy marshals used a Taser to shock and subdue him. Bell said Sunday that Keyes had noticed his leg irons were loose, so wiggled his way out. He thought he might get away, Bell said.

"He told us that if he even had a 1 percent chance, why not go for it," Bell said.

Keyes' trial for the charges related to Koenig's death had been scheduled to begin in March. The U.S. Attorney's Office had not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty, Feldis said. Keyes never showed remorse, he said.

"This has been massive," Loeffler said. "It started out massive with the Anchorage Police Department doing every possible thing they could to find Samantha Koenig under the hope that she was still alive. And it evolved into massive when we found out what we had."

 
 

Police, FBI revisit Israel Keyes home

By Casey Grove - Anchorage Daily News

October 23, 2012

ANCHORAGE — Federal agents and city crime scene investigators on Tuesday closed the quiet dead-end street in West Anchorage where Israel Keyes lived prior to his alleged February abduction and slaying of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, scouring the home and property for nearly 12 hours.

It is the third search at the light-blue home on Spurr Lane, in the Turnagain neighborhood, since Texas authorities arrested Keyes, 34, in March. An FBI spokesman and a federal prosecutor on the Keyes case both refused to say what triggered Tuesday's flurry of activity at the home. Neither would comment on what agents were looking for, or what they found.

"All I can say is the APD and FBI are executing a federal search warrant," said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said the warrant was sealed. Feldis would not say when prosecutors filed for the warrant. Such warrants must be executed within 10 days of a judge approving them, Feldis said.

One neighbor saw federal agents and Anchorage police officers working in the early morning light with metal detectors, starting in the driveway and moving to the back of the house. A new, unpainted Anchorage Police Department crime scene investigation motorhome could be seen parked in front of the residence. The agents and officers carried gear from the motorhome and two unmarked utility trucks, coming and going from the house throughout the day. FBI agents with cameras snapped pictures of small items in front of the home's garage and also worked in the backyard.

A neighbor said he saw the investigators at the home before 8 a.m. Most of the police vehicles were gone by 5 p.m., but one or two remained as the sun was setting.

Neighbors said Keyes lived at the home with his girlfriend, Kimberly Anderson, who is listed in property records as its owner. The couple mostly kept to themselves. Anderson has continued to live in the home, but Keyes' 10- or 11-year-old daughter hasn't been seen there since her father's arrest, neighbors said.

Keyes has been jailed since March 15.

Police say surveillance video shows Keyes abducting Koenig, 18, from the Midtown coffee stand where she was working the night of Feb. 1 and forcing her to walk away from the hut with him. According to police statements and a federal indictment filed against Keyes, he allegedly stole a debit card from someone with whom Koenig shared a vehicle, got a pass code for the card from Koenig, and killed her later that night or during the early morning hours the next day.

He then allegedly used the debit card in Alaska to steal money from the person's account and, after flying out of Alaska, came back to the state Feb. 17 and demanded ransom money using her cellphone, the indictment says. Keyes again flew out of Alaska, and in a series of withdrawals while wearing a mask, stole more money from the account using ATMs in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, the indictment says.

On March 13, six weeks after Koenig's disappearance, the authorities caught up with Keyes in Lufkin, Texas. He was arrested after a traffic stop for speeding -- though federal investigators were already on his trail, according to a charging document -- and he was soon brought back to Alaska.

Just after the arrest in Texas, police wearing helmets and body armor and carrying shotguns swarmed the Spurr Lane house, serving their first search warrant there. Among other evidence hauled away, the investigators took a trailer used for Keyes' one-man carpentry business, Keyes Construction.

Two weeks later, on March 30, police and federal agents again executed a search warrant at the house and property. With a rented forklift and flat-bed truck, they seized a shed and drove it to FBI headquarters downtown.

A dive team recovered Koenig's body April 2.

Many details of the investigation of Koenig's abduction and death -- including any connection of the shed with the case and what led the authorities to Matanuska Lake -- have never been made public.

Earlier this month, a court filing by prosecutors in the federal case against Keyes suggested he is the subject of other criminal investigations. No details were disclosed. Citing anonymous sources, a Vermont TV station reported in July that Keyes was the "prime suspect" in the 2011 disappearance of a husband and wife in Essex, Vermont.

  


 

Arrest made in Texas in disappearance of barista

By Casey Grove - Anchorage Daily News

March 15, 2012

An Anchorage man connected to the disappearance of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig is in jail after his arrest this week in Texas, but Koenig remains missing, police said Thursday.

Texas authorities arrested the man, Israel Keyes, midday Tuesday in Lufkin, Texas after a traffic stop, police said. He was described in a statement issued by police here Thursday as "a person of interest" in Koenig's disappearance.

Police have not revealed the charges against Keyes, but according to a charging document filed in Texas federal court, Keyes allegedly committed access device fraud, a charge typically levied against an individual who uses another person's bank or credit card to retrieve funds without permission. Federal and local law enforcement are now asking for help from the public to find out more information about the 34-year-old self-employed builder, believed to be the lone employee of his construction company, Keyes Construction.

Keyes' arrest is the only publicly released break in the case since Koenig vanished about 8 p.m. Feb. 1. Police say surveillance video shows an armed abductor force her from the Midtown coffee hut where she worked. Det. Slawomir Markiewicz would not say if Keyes matched the description of the man seen in the video.

"He's the only person we charged, and the only person of interest. And the biggest thing at this time is that we haven't found Samantha Koenig and we don't know her whereabouts," Markiewicz said.

Two Anchorage detectives have been in Texas for several days this week working on the case, Markiewicz said. The detectives will remain in Texas for several more days serving search warrants, he said. When asked if the arrest meant police are closer now to finding Koenig -- whom they hope is still alive -- Markiewicz replied, "Of course."

"As I've said before, I believe this case will be solved. This is a step toward that goal, a big step," he said.

Both Markiewicz and Koenig's father, who spoke to the Daily News through a family friend, said they do not know how Keyes might have known Koenig.

"We haven't found evidence linking him to her," Markiewicz said. "We don't know if he knew her before (she disappeared)."

Markiewicz would not comment on whether police believe Keyes was directly responsible for abducting Koenig or if Keyes was found with any of Koenig's belongings.

A TV station in Lufkin, Texas, KTRE, first reported Keyes' arrest.

KTRE reported Tuesday that diners having an outdoor lunch watched authorities take a "suspected kidnapper" into custody. A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson told the TV station that the man -- who police did not identify at the time but is now known to be Keyes -- was pulled over for a traffic violation."

Investigators said they found enough evidence in the vehicle to arrest the driver for suspected kidnapping. He was also searched and then taken into custody for questioning," the KTRE story says.

Markiewicz would not comment on whether Keyes was cooperating with police or specifically what led the authorities to him.

"It's the result of many hours of police work," Markiewicz said. "Methodical meticulous police work (by) our officers and detectives, the local FBI office and the local enforcement in Texas, screening every lead and following up."

"This wasn't the result of luck."

SEARCH OF HOUSE

Just after Keyes was arrested, police served a search warrant at a house in Anchorage's Turnagain neighborhood. Markiewicz said Keyes resides at the house on Spurr Lane, a narrow dead-end street off of Clay Products Drive.

Next-door neighbors Michele Buwalda and Tom McMillan said Keyes lives there with a woman named Kimberly Anderson, who is also listed as the owner of the house in city property records. A daughter they estimated was 12 or 13 lives with the couple at least some of the time, they said.

Markiewicz said Anderson is not a suspect or person of interest in the case.

Since Keyes and Anderson moved in a few years ago, the couple made many improvements to what is one of the more modest homes on the street, Buwalda and McMillan said. Keyes and Anderson were quiet and polite. They threw a couple of small parties each year, the neighbors said.

"I would be pretty surprised if he's involved with it," McMillan said.

Keyes spent a lot of time running saws and other equipment in the yard for his construction business, occasionally running afoul of neighbors because of late evening noise, they said.

Neighbors said that they noticed an unmarked police car idling for hours on Monday at an intersection a block away. Tuesday morning police arrived in unmarked cars, neighbors said. Wearing SWAT gear and carrying rifles, they swarmed the blue house. They took pictures and seemed to be collecting evidence. Later on that day, police followed Anderson's car as she pulled into the driveway, neighbors said. She left with them. Her car and Keyes' truck were towed. She returned the next day by cab. A crime scene van stayed parked outside the house until late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, neighbors said.

Late Thursday afternoon, after Keyes' arrest was announced, a truck pulled up to the blue house, where a trailer with Keyes' business name on it was parked in the driveway. Two women got out. One of the women covered her head with a jacket to shield her face.

"WE DON'T KNOW IF SHE'S ALIVE"

On a website for his business, Keyes lists his work history in construction. He says he worked in Washington from 1995 to 1997. After that, the site says he served in the Army for three years, stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington, Fort Hood in Texas and in Egypt before he was discharged in 2000. From 2001 to 2007, he worked for the Makah Tribal Council in Neah Bay, Wash. He moved to Alaska and started his business in 2007, his website says.

Anchorage police and the FBI are asking that any of Keyes' associates, anybody who's had contact with him since Jan. 1, or anyone who may have done business with his company, Keyes Construction, call 1-800-225-5324 OR 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Markiewicz said that request does not necessarily mean anything related to the abduction happened at a house or business where Keyes may have worked. But tips related to Keyes' work might help the investigation, the detective said.

"We certainly want to find out what projects he did. Whether he had access to other residences, whether he had keys to other houses. Any information like that," Markiewicz said.

Koenig's fate remains unknown and the investigators continue to treat her disappearance as a highly sensitive abduction case, Markiewicz said.

"We investigated as if she's alive. We haven't found her. We don't know what happened with her. We're concerned. We don't know if she's alive," Markiewicz said. "We have investigated this from the beginning as an abduction. Nothing has changed with that. We are very concerned that she hasn't been seen for six weeks."

"The truth is, we don't know her whereabouts ... and we don't know what's happened with her since she was abducted," he said.

Koenig's father, James, declined to answer reporters' questions Thursday. Family friend Michelle Tasker spoke on his behalf and said he is asking that anyone with information about Keyes or his daughter's whereabouts call the FBI or police.

"It's just one more step to getting his daughter back," Tasker said. "He's exhausted, tired, just wants it over and wants his daughter home. He's angry and doesn't have anything to say right now, other than wanting the public's support in answering the APD's and FBI's requests for information."

Tasker said James Koenig told her he does not know Keyes or anything about him.

"Never met him, never seen him," Tasker said. "(He) has no clue what connection (Keyes) may have to his daughter. To his knowledge his daughter doesn't know him either."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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