Man arrested in Koenig case heading to Anchorage

Casey Grove

Federal authorities have initiated their transport of the man police called a "person of interest" in the disappearance of Samantha Koenig, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service

Israel Keyes, 34, was arrested in Texas last week on a charge of access device fraud for allegedly making several cash withdrawals with a stolen Alaska debit card. Anchorage police linked him to the apparent abduction Feb. 1 of Koenig, 18, who is still missing. The police have refused to say how Keyes is involved in Koenig's disappearance, and Koenig's father said Friday the card did not belong to him or anyone he knows.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Rochelle Liedike said the Marshals have started the process by which Keyes will return to Alaska, but she declined to comment on specifics of Keyes' transport.

"Until he actually hits Anchorage and we get him lodged at the jail, the information about where he's at and when he'll be here and when he's expected to arrive, that kind of information cannot be released due to security reasons that are obvious," Liedike said.

Keyes will likely travel by airplane with several stops and, perhaps, by bus at some point, Liedike said. The trip could take as long as two weeks, she said. The Marshals Service has its own set of planes to transport federal prisoners, Liedike said.

When Keyes is back in Alaska, the Marshals will notify the federal court that he is available for an initial hearing on the fraud charge, Liedike said.

According to an FBI agent's affidavit, Keyes was caught in Lufkin, Texas, on March 13 with a debit card stolen from an unnamed man -- "Person A" -- hours after Koenig was forced from a Midtown coffee hut by an armed man. The card had been used in Anchorage to make cash withdrawals or attempted withdrawals and later used in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, the affidavit says. When he was arrested, Keyes had a mask and clothes matching those worn by the suspect, seen on surveillance video at several ATMs in the Lower 48, according to the affidavit. Keyes also had the debit card on his person and rolls of rubber-banded cash in the car he was driving, the affidavit says.

Koenig's father, James Koenig, said Friday that the card is not his and that he doesn't know who owns the card.

"I have no idea," James Koenig said. "I'm sure it'll come out soon enough whose card it is, but at this point I don't know and I'm not going to speculate."

Asked if he had any information on how his daughter might have known Keyes, James Koenig responded, "Sam does not know him. Period."

"This, in my eyes, was a random abduction. This was nothing to do with me, her, anyone in my family, no one's background, none of that," Koenig said. "This guy went and stole a kid out of a coffee shop."

Anyone with past personal or business contacts with Keyes, owner of Keyes Construction, is asked to call 1-800-225-5324 or 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.

Anchorage Daily News