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
Then guards found him dead on December 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
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
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
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
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
"He was well-known in Anchorage as a really good handyman,"
said state Senator Hollis French, who lived around the corner
All the while, Keyes said in his interviews, he was "two
"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
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.