Israel Keyes, who killed himself in an Alaska jail cell Sunday while awaiting trial for the murder of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, is now tied to at least seven other murders or disappearances and is considered a likely serial killer. In an interview with investigators, Keyes told them he considered himself “two different people” for the past 14 years.
Now, the FBI is asking for the public’s help in retracing Keyes’ steps over the last decade or more, when Keyes is suspected to have begun his killing spree. Investigators revealed Monday that they suspect Keyes may have killed as early as 2001, a victim or victims in Washington state.
Following Keyes’ arrest in March of this year, he began talking to investigators about other crimes. He admitted to killing at least two other specific people, Bill and Lorraine Currier, in Vermont last year.
Keyes reportedly kidnapped the Curriers in their own car on the night of June 8, 2011, driving to an abandoned farmhouse near Essex, Vt., where he shot Bill Currier and sexually assaulted Lorraine Currier before strangling her.
But authorities said that prior to his suicide, Keyes admitted to at least five other murders -- four in Washington state, where he resided from 2001 to 2007 before moving to Alaska. He allegedly killed two people in Washington in 2005 and 2006. He also reportedly killed a couple in Washington between 2001 and 2005. He said he had killed again on the East Coast in 2009, and dumped the body in New York.
Keyes was apparently methodical about choosing his victims, as indicated by the Currier murder and the Koenig case, where he approached the coffee stand where Koenig worked just before closing before allegedly abducting her, stealing her debit card, killing her and dumping her body in Matanuska Lake on the night of Feb. 1.
‘Two different people’
Keyes ran his own contracting business, and those who had work done by him said that he tended to do his work well and quietly. Keyes lived with a woman in Anchorage’s Turnagain neighborhood and had a daughter whose whereabouts since Keyes’ arrest have not been revealed.
A brief audio clip released by the FBI Monday revealed the duality of Keyes’s public face -- officials in Vermont said that Keyes showed concern for his “reputation” -- and the man suspected of murdering eight people.
“There is no one who knows me or who has ever known me who knows anything about me, really,” Keyes said in an interview with investigators. “They know…they’re gonna tell you something that does not line up with anything that I tell you, because I’m two different people, basically. And the only person who knows about what I’m telling you, the kind of things I’m telling you, is me.”
“How long have you been two different people?” Keyes is asked. He laughs.
“Long time,” Keyes says. “14 years.”
Timeline of events
The FBI believes Keyes has been active for more than a decade, beginning with the murders in Washington state. However, the only identities of his victims that authorities released are Koenig and the Curriers; the remaining victims aren’t known at this time.
The FBI said that Keyes was “meticulous and organized” when committing his crimes, which included at least two verified bank robberies. They said that he likely funded his travels with these robberies. Additional money came from his contracting business.
In the case of Samantha Koenig, prosecutors also said that Keyes stole her debit card and used it to withdraw almost $2,500 from her account.
“Keyes also admitted to traveling to various locations to leave supplies he planned to use in a future crime,” the FBI said in a statement. “Keyes buried caches throughout the United States. The FBI has recovered two caches buried by Keyes -- one in Eagle River, Alaska, and one near Blakes Falls Reservoir in New York. The caches contained weapons and other items used to dispose of bodies.”
The FBI, in the hopes of learning more about Keyes’ activities, potential other crimes, and his victims, asked for the public’s help in retracing his steps.
Keyes lived in Washington before moving to Alaska in March of 2007, the FBI said. But he traveled extensively, so his location could be difficult to pinpoint at any given time. They provided the following timeline of his whereabouts, with the locations kept general due to Keyes’ habit of flying into a location, renting a car, and driving hundreds of miles. That timeline is attached to this article. You can also view it here.
Anyone who thinks they may have information regarding Keyes is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI and follow the prompts to provide tips.
Perhaps the most unnerving aspect of Keyes’ supposedly murderous tendencies was the apparently random nature of the attacks.
Investigators said that Keyes would visit parks, campgrounds, cemeteries, and other isolated locations while searching for victims. They don’t believe he knew any of his victims prior to their abductions, which fits with what’s known about the Koenig and Currier cases.
Though Keyes’ death provides a sudden surge of information in a case that’s been notoriously short on details, many questions still remain in the wake of his suicide. If Keyes had other victims, they may never be found or connected to Keyes. Investigators don't even have identities for five of Keyes’ reported victims.
The most pressing question, though, is how Keyes managed to kill himself in his Anchorage jail cell. Keyes was discovered early Sunday morning, and so far officials have been tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding his death.
Alaska State Troopers are leading the investigation into Keyes’s death -- his body has already been sent to the state medical examiner for an autopsy -- and would only say that it was an apparent suicide, according to troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.
The rest of the details -- including whether or not Keyes was on suicide watch, the type of cell he was being held in, and if his cell had audio or video surveillance -- were not forthcoming Monday.
Kaci Schroeder, with the Alaska Department of Corrections, said that DOC cannot comment on the specifics of Keyes’ death due to an ongoing investigation into the matter.
She did provide data for the number of inmates who have committed suicide while in custody in recent years. In 2008, four inmates killed themselves. In 2009 and 2010, there were one and three suicides, respectively. Last year saw two suicides. Counting Keyes, the 2012 number also now sits at two for the year.
Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com