Man charged in barista death linked to 7 killings
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A man charged in the death of an Alaska barista has killed himself, and authorities said Sunday they had linked him to at least seven other possible slayings in three other states.
Israel Keyes was found dead in his Anchorage jail cell Sunday morning. He died of an apparent suicide, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler told reporters.
Keyes was facing a March trial in federal court for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from an Anchorage coffee kiosk last February. He was later arrested in Texas after using the victim’s debit card.
Keyes confessed to killing Koenig, as well as killing Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., Anchorage police chief Mark Mew said.
The bodies of the Curriers have never been found. They were last seen leaving their jobs on June 8, 2011. Co-workers reported them missing the next day.
Keyes also indicated he killed four others in Washington state and one person in New York state, but did not give the victims’ names, authorities said.
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.
Koenig’s disappearance had gripped the city for weeks.
A surveillance camera showed an apparently armed man in a hooded sweat shirt leading Koenig away from the coffee stand. Koenig’s friends and relatives established a reward fund and plastered the city with flyers with her photo in hopes of finding the young woman alive.
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, according to prosecutors. 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.
Koenig’s family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teen and the suspect. Reached by phone Sunday, Koenig’s father, James Koenig declined to comment on Keyes’ death.
Authorities in Vermont have been working with investigators in Alaska since April on the Currier case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont said in statement Sunday.
Investigators have determined that the couple’s home was entered forcibly, and that there was evidence of a possible struggle.
Their car was stolen and was recovered several days after their disappearance at an apartment complex about three-quarters of a mile away from their home.
Keyes was thorough and methodical in disposing victims, authorities said Sunday at a hastily assembled press conference that included the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s office and Anchorage police. Only Koenig’s body has been recovered.
He didn’t have a clear pattern in victims, who ranged widely in age, authorities said. Money appeared to be just a partial motive.
Authorities say they may never know the full extent of Keyes’ crimes because he parsed out only a little information at a time, withholding names and locations of most of his victims.
There may be victims in other states as well besides the four states noted by Keyes, FBI Special Agent in Charge Mary Rook said.
Keyes also confessed to bank robberies in New York state and Texas.
Authorities wouldn’t say how Koenig killed himself, only that he was alone in his cell. An autopsy will be conducted.
Keyes, 34, could have faced the death penalty in the Koenig case.
Credit: The Associated Press.