FBI, police examine shed taken from Keyes home

Police, FBI also seize pickup belonging to man connected to kidnapping of 18-year-old.

Anchorage Daily NewsMarch 31, 2012 

FBI agents transfer a storage shed from the driveway of Israel Keyes, a man police say was involved in 18-year-old Samantha Koenig's abduction Feb. 1, 2012, to a flatbed truck Friday night, March 30, 2012. The shed was taken to the FBI's downtown Anchorage headquarters.

CASEY GROVE / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS Buy Photo

Anchorage police and federal agents Saturday examined a shed seized the night before from the home of Israel Keyes as part of an investigation into Keyes' possible involvement in the disappearance of Samantha Koenig, the FBI said.

The Anchorage Police Department and FBI are collaborating on the Koenig case, said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez.

"Obviously we're processing the shed with APD. This is obviously tied to the abduction of Samantha Koenig," Gonzalez said. "This is a joint investigation. We're working very closely with each other."

"Unfortunately, because it's still ongoing, we're just limited about what we can say. Clearly, we'll state the obvious," he said.

Keyes, 34, is a self-employed carpenter police say was directly involved in Koenig's apparent abduction Feb. 1 from the Midtown coffee stand where the 18-year-old barista worked a late shift. A debit card stolen in Anchorage hours after Koenig vanished at 8 p.m. -- she was last seen in surveillance video forced from the coffee hut by an armed man -- was found on Keyes, along with rolls of money during a traffic stop in East Texas on March 13, according to an FBI agent's affidavit. The card had been used to make several unauthorized withdrawals in Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, the affidavit says.

The card belonged to a man not identified in court papers. Police, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office have refused to say how Keyes is connected to Koenig's abduction. She remains missing.

The day of Keyes' arrest on federal charges for alleged access device fraud, crime scene investigators and police officers descended on Keyes' home, a blue single-family residence in West Anchorage owned by his girlfriend, according to neighbors and property records. Among the possible evidence the investigators gathered that day was Keyes' pickup.

Keyes pleaded not guilty to one count of access device fraud at a Tuesday court hearing. While describing his financial situation, Keyes told a judge he's in debt, his bank account is overdrawn, and that he has a 10-year-old daughter.

Afterward, federal prosecutors indicated the pickup seized at Keyes' home may be evidence in the Koenig abduction case.

SHED TAKEN TO FBI BUILDING

Friday night, federal agents returned to the house on Spurr Lane, a dead-end street off Clay Products Drive, which runs parallel to West Northern Lights Boulevard through Anchorage's Turnagain neighborhood.

Neighbors said a flatbed truck pulled in front of the house about 10 p.m. Men unloaded a forklift from the back of the truck and went to work shoveling snow off what looked to be a roughly 6-foot by 8-foot metal storage shed with green trim.

Later, reporters watched as a forklift operator picked up the shed and backed slowly out of the short driveway while men held the shed steady. At one point, a woman inside the house where police say Keyes lived poked her head out to quiet a barking dog. Lights were on in the house, and blinds covered the windows.

The forklift operator carefully loaded the shed on the truck, and after blocking the base and strapping it down, the truck backed out of Spurr Lane and drove to the FBI's headquarters in downtown Anchorage.

A man participating in the Friday night seizure confirmed the dozen or so plainclothes men and women there were with the FBI. He declined to comment further, and the FBI personnel did not respond to questions.

A police crime scene investigation vehicle was parked at FBI headquarters Saturday next to a bay door where federal agents took the shed Friday night.

Neither Gonzalez, the FBI spokesman, nor police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker would comment on why the shed was taken or what is inside it. Parker said it is common, when possible, to seize something as large as a shed or a vehicle so investigators can transport it for analysis in a controlled environment.

Gonzalez said he was unaware of anything else taken from the property.

'UTTERLY TRUSTWORTHY'

According to the website for Keyes' business, Keyes Construction, he has worked in Anchorage as a carpenter since 2007.

Paul Adelman said he hired Keyes in 2008 after seeing an ad on Craigslist.org to help build an apartment just off the Delaney Park Strip. Keyes was a hard worker who talked about bringing his daughter to Alaska from somewhere in the Lower 48, Adelman said.

Adelman described Keyes as "absolutely honest and reliable and a person who was, in my opinion, utterly trustworthy."

"As far as I'm concerned, Israel is as honest as the day is long," said Adelman, who recommended Keyes to others because of his good work.

Before coming to Alaska, Keyes was a builder for the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Wash., from 2001 to 2007, according to KeyesConstruction.net. People listed as references on the website did not return repeated calls from the Daily News.

He was an Army infantryman stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington and Fort Hood in Texas from 1998 to 2000, the website says. Attempts by the Daily News to contact Keyes' commander were unsuccessful.

Keyes was arrested for drunken driving at Fort Lewis in February 2001, federal court documents show. According to a plea agreement in June 2001, Keyes' blood-alcohol content tested more than the legal limit to drive of 0.08 but less than 0.10. He was sentenced to one day in prison and a $350 fine.

An order of detention signed by a judge after Keyes' court hearing Tuesday says he has a past history of using marijuana and alcohol to excess.

Neighbors said they knew little about Keyes, his girlfriend or the girl living with them. The couple would have an occasional party, and sometimes Keyes worked late into the night with power tools, Spurr Lane residents said.

On his MySpace page, Keyes listed his hometown as Colville, Wash., his religion as atheist, and his occupation as carpenter.

Police and federal investigators ask that anyone with information about Keyes' carpentry business or the whereabouts of his pickup in late January or early February -- the truck likely had a utility rack removed or put on around the time of Koenig's abduction, the FBI said -- to call 1-800-CALL-FBI to deliver tips.


Reach Casey Grove at casey. grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

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