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Alleged killer of Samantha Koenig linked to murders in Vermont

Ben Anderson

Israel Keyes, currently in custody in Alaska for allegedly kidnapping and killing Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig, may be tied to two other murders in Vermont, according to television station WCAX, based in Burlington.

According to the station, Keyes could face charges in the June 2011 disappearance and apparent homicides of 55-year-old Lorraine Currier and 50-year-old Bill Currier. Investigators in Vermont ruled their deaths as homicide on Thursday, according to WCAX. 

At a press conference held by the Vermont U.S. Attorney's office Friday morning, authorities said that charges against a suspect in the Currier case were expected.

"The person believed to have committed the murders is in custody in another state and will remain in custody," said a statement prepared by U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin. "No charges have yet been brought against this person for the Curriers’ murders, but charges are anticipated."

Authorities did not name Keyes as the suspect at the press conference.

The statement said that investigators had "developed significant information" in the case of the missing Essex couple. Authorities had searched a portion of a landfill in the area for 11 weeks, but were unable to recover the remains of the Curriers, Coffin said.

If Keyes is charged in the murder of the Curriers, it will be the second murder indictment the 34-year-old former contractor faces. Keyes was arrested in Texas in March and indicted for the kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who went missing on Feb. 1 of 2012 -- nearly 8 months after the Curriers disappeared on June 8, 2011.

WCAX reports they have been able to confirm that Keyes was in Essex, Vermont, on the day the Curriers went missing, checking into a hotel the day prior and checking out the day after. Keyes also reportedly told authorities while they were questioning him about the Koenig case where to find the bodies of the Curriers, according to anonymous sources who spoke to the station. 

Keyes was flown back to Alaska following his March arrest, where he was eventually charged with one count of access device fraud, kidnapping resulting in the death of Samantha Koenig, and receiving and possessing ransom money.

Authorities allege that Keyes kidnapped Koenig from the coffee stand where she worked, just prior to closing, and killed her that same night. He then allegedly used a debit card tied to Samantha Koenig to withdraw money in Alaska and several states in the U.S. Southwest, withdrawing about $2,500 total.

Police said following Keyes's arrest that he was tied to the Koenig disappearance.

After Keyes's arrest, authorities searched Matanuska Lake, north of Alaska's largest city of Anchorage and near the city of Palmer. They discovered a body later revealed to be that of Koenig.

Alaska has no death penalty, but because Keyes is charged in federal court, the kidnapping and killing charge could see Keyes facing death. Prosecutors have not yet decided if they will seek the death penalty.

During a hearing in May to determine key trial dates, Keyes somehow slipped a pair of steel leg irons and jumped over the railing in an apparent attempt to flee. He had to be subdued and tasered by a number of U.S. Marshals and other courtroom security.

Keyes has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. His Alaska trial date is currently set for March 11, 2013. It wasn't immediately clear if new charges could alter that trial date.

The Alaska U.S. Attorney's office had no comment.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com