Koenig's alleged slayer, Keyes, is target of additional investigations

Casey Grove

A court filing this week in the federal case against Israel Keyes, charged with abducting and killing 18-year-old Samantha Koenig in February, indicates Keyes is the subject of other criminal investigations.

Keyes' lawyers complained in the Wednesday status report to a federal judge that, against their objections, prosecutors have had repeated contact with Keyes, 34. They also wrote that the prosecutors have failed to talk to them about additional criminal allegations, apparently not filed yet.

"The defense understands from the government that Mr. Keyes is being investigated on other matters," the court-appointed defense lawyers wrote. "Because of this, the defense must be made fully aware of other criminal investigations and allegations in order to properly advise Mr. Keyes; however, the government has yet to provide defense counsel with discovery (evidence) related to these matters."

Keyes' lawyers declined to comment on the status report Thursday.

Citing anonymous sources, Vermont TV station WCAX in July said Keyes is the "prime suspect" in the 2011 disappearance of a husband and wife living in Essex, Vermont.

After months of uncertainty about what happened to the couple, Bill and Lorraine Currier, federal prosecutors said in July that a person "in custody in another state" forced the Curriers from their home and killed them. The Vermont authorities refused to tell reporters the suspect's name or the state in which he or she is held.

There have been no new charges filed against Keyes since he was indicted for Koenig's kidnapping and murder, a crime punishable by death.

In a phone interview Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Russo, one of the Alaska prosecutors assigned to the Koenig case, refused to discuss the possibility of any additional charges pending against Keyes.

"I can't comment on any ongoing investigations," Russo said.

When asked if that meant there were ongoing investigations of Keyes in addition to the Koenig case, Russo again said he could not comment. Russo also neither confirmed nor denied any conversations federal prosecutors have had with Keyes.

"I think we'd deny any improper contact with Mr. Keyes," Russo said. "I'm not going to comment on whether or not we've had any conversations."

After the interview, Russo filed a motion Thursday afternoon asking a judge to "strike" the defense status report. In the motion, Russo denied the defense allegations of wrongdoing by the prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors say Keyes abducted Koenig from the Anchorage coffee hut where she was working late Feb. 1. According to police statements and an indictment filed against Keyes, he allegedly stole a debit card from someone with whom Koenig shared a vehicle, got a pass code for the card from Koenig, and killed her later that night or during the early morning hours the next day. Police said Keyes dumped Koenig's body in Matanuska Lake. He then allegedly used the debit card in Alaska to steal money from the person's account and, after flying out of Alaska, came back to the state Feb. 17 and demanded ransom money using her cellphone, the indictment says. Keyes again flew out of Alaska, and in a series of withdrawals while wearing a mask, stole more money from the account using ATMs in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, the indictment says.

On March 13, six weeks after Koenig's disappearance, the authorities caught up with Keyes in Lufkin, Texas. He was arrested after a traffic stop for speeding -- though federal investigators were apparently on his trail, according to a charging document -- and he was soon brought back in Alaska.

Federal agents seized a shed from Keyes' West Anchorage home on March 30, and a dive team recovered Koenig's body on April 2. Keyes, previously jailed for the debit card fraud, was indicted for Koenig's abduction and death April 18.


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