Suspected serial killer Israel “Izzy” Keyes, 34, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Anchorage, Alaska, jail cell Sunday morning, December 2, 2012. The manner of his death has not been released. His trial for the February 1, 2012, abduction and murder of barista Samantha Koenig, 18, was scheduled for March 11, 2013. Keyes was indicted in April for abducting the woman he later killed from the coffee kiosk where she worked. Koenig was seen being taken by an armed man in a dark hoodie by surveillance cameras. Police determined that Koenig was killed within hours of her abduction. Prosecutors believe that to hide the young woman’s abduction, Keyes used her cell phone to send text messages to friends and family. They also said he stole her debit card, scratched her code onto the back of it, and took her money before killing her the next morning. Unfortunately Koenig was not even reported missing until noon February 2, and by then snow fall had covered any tracks or scents that might have been left behind. Her body would not be found until April 2, dumped in a frozen lake north of Anchorage. Her death was ruled a homicide, though the details were never released.
According to charging documents Keyes texted Koenig’s family on February 24 demanding ransom money for her return. They deposited the money into their daughter’s account as instructed. The killer made several withdrawals from ATMs around the country until he was stopped in Lufkin, Texas, in March for speeding. Police arrested him in connection with Koenig’s murder, and shipped him back to Alaska to face kidnapping and murder charges. Keyes attempted an escape during a court hearing in Anchorage, breaking free from his leg shackles, but was tased and subdued.
Keyes was virtually unknown in Anchorage until after his arrest. Neighbors interviewed said he was unremarkable, except that he worked very hard. Keyes ran construction company Keyes Construction and lived in Alaska for five years prior to the murder. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2000 after being stationed at Fort Lewis, Fort Hood and in Egypt. Before his arrest for murder he had been arrested once for DUI and again for operating a vehicle without a license.
Anchorage police chief Mark Mew told reporters that while in custody Keyes confessed to killing Koenig, as well as missing Vermont couple Bill and Lorraine Currier, who disappeared on June 8, 2011. Evidence of a struggle at the couple’s home lent credibility to his confession, but he did not tell authorities where he dumped the bodies. Many of the details of the cases have not been released due to the ongoing investigation.
Thanks to investigators’ continued efforts, Keyes also confessed to killing four people in Washington State, and one in New York, but did not give specific locations or victims’ names. He confessed to bank robberies in New York and Texas as well. Because Keyes was charged with kidnapping resulting in death and receiving ransom money, both federal crimes, prosecutors opted to have him tried in federal court, where they could request the death penalty. Alaska’s courts do not have the death penalty. Keyes, probably in the hopes of being offered a deal in lieu of death, carefully doled out bits and pieces of information at a time to investigators. The FBI has been and is continuing to investigate Keyes’ other confessed murders as well as the possibility of still more victims. Now if those cases are ever to be solved, investigators must piece together what little Keyes gave up.