The Abduction of Samantha Koening
Like many people across the north, my interest in the case of Israel Keyes began with the kidn
The attractive 18 year old was abducted at the end of her shift as a barista at the Common Grounds coffee shop in Anchorage, Alaska on February 1st, 2012.
It was a disturbing case, but no one could imagine how twisted the final truth would be.
Video footage from the coffee shop showed the young women being escorted away at gunpoint and visably frightened.
The community rallied behind Samantha's family. More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil. They raised more than $70,000 for a reward fund.
They kept hope alive.
As the days turned into weeks, the public became increasingly frustrated with the lack of movement in the case. Police insisted they were making progress.
Despite public pressure, investigators would not release images taken by a video camera on the night of the abduction. They said it was obvious the perpetrator had taken great pains to be recognized, and they were concerned releasing the video might jeopardize the case when it went to court.
An Arrest is Made
In March authorities announced they had a break in the case.
They arrested 34 year old Israel Keyes in Lufkin Texas for allegedly using a stolen debit card t
While it seemed odd that bank fraud in Texas was related to a kidnapping in Anchorage, police released no other details.
They simply asked that anyone who had had contact with Keyes in the past year to come forward.
People still held out hope that Samantha would be found alive.
Keyes was returned to Anchorage and on March 27th entered a not guilty plea to the bank fraud charges. A court date was set for May 21, 2012.
Meanwhile, details of Israel Keye's life began to unfold.
He was an Anchorage contractor with a family including a pre-teen daughter. Clients, interviewed after his arrest described him as "dependable" and hard working". His life was, on the surface very normal.
Police searched his home and removed a small shed from his yard.
In early April police divers recovered a body from Matanuska Lake, near Anchorage.
Medical examiners confirmed it was Samantha Koening.
Hope for Samantha was gone, but there was speculation that Keyes may be cooperating with authorities because they knew exactly where to look .
No one could forsee how deep that level of cooperation really was.
When Keyes appeared in court he made an unsuccessfull attempt to escape. A new court date was set for March 0f 2013.
A Killer is Gone
On December 02, 2012 Israel Keyes committed suicide in his Anchorage jail cell.
With no trial ahead, investigators could finally release details of Keye's confessions.
Keyes told police he choose the "Common Grounds" coffee shop because it was somewhat isolated and open later than many other businesses in the area.
Knowing his truck may be seen on video, he removed all his ladders and other construction gear to change it's appearance.
Keyes ordered a cup of coffee, put on a ski mask, and demanded money. Koening complied with his request for the cash. Keyes secured her hands with zip ties and led her out of the coffee shop.
At one point she broke free, but he caught her and tackled her to the ground. They then drove around in his truck where he explained that he had kidnapped her for ransom.
At one point he had to return to the Common Grounds to retrieve Koening's cell phone so he could text her boyfriend and her boss to say that Samantha had had a bad day and was leaving town for the weekend.
Samantha told Keyes that she shared a bank debit card with her boyfriend, gave him the PIN and told him where to find it. He took her to his home and left her bound and gagged in a shed while he drove to her house and retrieved the card. He went to a local bank to make sure the card worked.
Keyes then returned to the shed, sexually assaulted Samantha and asphyxiated her. He left her in the shed and in the morning left for a two week cruise.
After returning he began sending out the ransom notes. He even included a Polaroid picture which suggested Samantha was still alive. Samantha's father James began depositing money into the bank account tied to the ATM card.
Keyes dismembered Samantha's body and drove it to a remote lake where he cut a hole in the ice and deposited her remains.
The crime was horrific, and as it turns out, only the tip of the iceberg in Keyes criminal activities.
What Else Did Keyes tell Investigators?
He confessed to:
1. Sexually assaulting a young teenage girl in Oregon. He said he had planned to kill her, but decided to let her go. The victim never went to the police.
2. Numerous thefts, and burglaries and two bank robberies.
3. Killing at least four other people in Washington State and one more on the east coast.
4. Killing Bill and Lorraine Currier in Vermont. They have been missing since June 2011 and their bodies have not been found. Keyes says he shot Bill Currie, then sexually assaulted and strangled his wife Lorraine.
How many other people did Israel Keyes murder? We may never know the full answer, but police have been able to track most of his movements and are working with law enforcement officials to see if there are any missing persons or unsolved murders in the areas he traveled to.
It was also obvious that Keyes planned to continue to murder innocent people. He had hidden "killing kits" in remote locations across the US. Police have recovered two of the kits. The first one was found north of Anchorage. It contained plastic bags, a shovel and bottles of drain cleaner which he said would hasten the decomposition of the body.
The second kit, found in New York had garbage bags, ammunition and ligatures.
Israel Keyes took a number of lives and irrevocably damaged countless others.
His story brings home a chilling and haunting truth. There are monsters amongst us and we can't see through their masks.