compiled by Patrick H. Moore
Confessed serial killer Israel Keyes, 34, committed suicide in his jail cell in Anchorage, Alaska, on December 2, 2012, apparently by first slashing his wrists and then strangling himself. He left behind an extensive, four-page note that expressed no remorse.
Born into a Mormon family on January 7,1978 in Richmond, Utah, and one of 10 children, his criminal career included rape, burglary and bank robbery as well as murder. When he was still a child, his family moved to a rural area north of Colville, Washington. His family then left the Mormon church and occasionally attended the church of Christian Identity, an obscure and tiny denomination that preached white separatist and anti-Semitic doctrines.
After joining the United States Army in 1998, Keyes served at Fort Lewis and Fort Hood and in Egypt. His criminal career may have begun while he was in the military. According to his confession, he raped a female in late 1990 but did not murder her. She may have been as young as 12 at the time of the assault. He stated that the murders started sometime after this attack. While at Fort Lewis in 2001 he pleaded guilty to DUI. Somewhat remarkably, Keyes received an “Army Achievement Medal” while in the service. He was honorably discharged in 2001.
Lanky and athletic, and by some measures, good-looking, after leaving the service, Keyes subsisted by performing carpentry work for an American Indian tribe in Washington. He relocated to Anchorage in late 2007. He also ran a contracting firm, Keyes Construction, for a period of time. He was apparently both the boss and the sole employee.
In order to avoid detection, Keyes often traveled far from home to commit his murders, financing his travels through Keyes Construction and through thefts which included bank robberies.
While traveling to perform his trans-continental killings, he turned off his cell phone and paid with cash to avoid leaving clues. Investigators have stated that he had “a meticulous and organized approach to his crimes,” stashing weapons, cash and items used to dispose of bodies in several locations to prepare for future crimes. Authorities have dug up two of those caches — one in Eagle River, Alaska, outside Anchorage, and one near a reservoir in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
According to Detective Monique Doll, Keyes studied other serial killers but “was very careful to say he had not patterned himself after any other serial killer.”
Keyes was finally arrested in 2012 in the abduction and slaying of Samantha Koening, a coffee barista in Anchorage, Alaska.
On February 1, 2012, Samantha Koenig, 18, a barista, was closing up her stand at the Common Grounds Espresso in Midtown Anchorage at about 8:00 p.m. when a masked and hooded Keyes brandished a gun at her. He bound her hands with zip ties. Even with her hands tied, she made a desperate attempt to escape, running across the coffee bar’s parking lot. Keyes tackled her.
In the days after her disappearance, the Koenig family and its friends plastered Anchorage with Samantha’s photographs and put up a reward fund. Her mother, Darlene Christiansen, told a reporter, “I want her home. It’s just unbelievable – you watch it on TV [but] you never think it happens to your own child.”
On the evening of February 11, a candlelight vigil was held for her in the evening at Anchorage’s Delaney Park strip.
Keyes had raped and strangled her by the day after the kidnapping. Before killing her, he learned her PIN and scratched it on the card. In the days afterward, he used her debit card. He also used her phone to send text messages to mislead her family into thinking she was alive. Leaving her corpse in a shed outside his house, Keyes traveled to Texas. He returned to Alaska on February 17 and posed Koenig’s corpse with a newspaper to make it appear she was alive in the photograph he took. He a text message demanding ransom along with directions to a photocopy of the image, which he’d hidden in a local dog park.
Then Keyes dismembered the corpse and dropped it in the Matanuska Lake.
He began traveling again, making withdrawals from ATMs in various states with Koenig’s debit card.
In early March 2012, Keyes attended the wedding of a sister. When relatives tried to convert him to evangelical Christianity, he retorted that he did not believe in a Supreme Being. At one point, Keyes’ eyes filled with tears. He told a sister-in-law, “You don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve got to drink every day to forget these things.”
A few days after that wedding, on March 13, 2012, a highway patrol officer in Lufkin, Texas pulled over Keyes over. The reason the cop stopped him was that the rental car Keyes drove was the white Ford Focus caught on surveillance footage near a withdrawal performed with Koenig’s debit card. The officer found that debit card, together with Koenig’s cell phone, on Keyes.
Keyes was soon extradited to Alaska where he was scheduled to go on trial in March 2013 for kidnapping and murdering Koenig. Prosecutors were still considering whether or not to request the death penalty when he rendered the question moot with his suicide.
By the time Keyes killed himself in December, about nine months after his arrest, he had admitted to at least seven other slayings, from Vermont to Washington state, before his death.
Federal agents say that they’ve now linked 11 killings to Keyes and believe that some of the murders may have occurred abroad.
In a recently issued statement, the FBI office in Anchorage said agents have now added three more more victims based on his statements in addition to the eight they had already connected him to. The new victims include:
– a pale-skinned woman in an older car, “possibly having a wealthy grandmother”.
– one in which the victim was posed to make it look like the death had been an accident.
– one “in Texas or a surrounding state” that he had denied committing before his death.
“Keyes traveled internationally and it is unknown if he committed any homicides while outside of the United States.”
An Anchorage police officer described Keyes as a kind of murder addict who hunted victims in remote locations like parks, campgrounds or hiking trails.
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