Start Date

Date Published 10.05.12


The most frightening violent offenders to me are the ones that are arrested in a different state from their crime, especially shortly thereafter.  The movers.  The ones that take to the open road steered only by whatever bad impulse overtakes them.


I didn’t know much about the abduction of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who was taken by force from the Anchorage coffee hut where she was working alone the evening of February 1; I recalled there was surveillance video of an armed man leading her away from her position behind the counter.  I think I assumed it was probably a sexually motivated crime.


Several weeks after the abduction, on March 13, a 34-year-old man named Israel Keyes was pulled over for speeding in the small west Texas town of Lufkin. Keyes stood by in the parking lot of the Cotton Patch Café while his car, a rented white Ford Focus sedan, was searched.  Police found rolls of cash hidden in the car doors.  He had in his possession a debit card not in his name.  A name check found that Keyes was a suspect in an Alaskan kidnapping.  Curious diners, enjoying an outdoor lunch, watched as Keyes, clad in a tank top, was handcuffed and taken away.



                  Israel Keyes


Keyes was initially charged with access device fraud, for using another person’s bank or credit card.  But on April 2, police suddenly converged on Matankuska Lake, about 35 miles north of Anchorage; the recovery of Samantha Koenig’s body was announced soon after.  Presumably Keyes had talked.  In mid-April he was charged with her abduction and murder.


Koenig shared a pick-up truck with her boyfriend, and it appears Keyes forced Koenig to tell him the passcode of her boyfriend’s debit card, which was in the truck.  He also used Koenig’s cell phone to demand ransom money for her; this was after her murder, which officials believed happened within hours of her abduction.


Keyes, a self-employed contractor that allegedly did “beautiful work,” lived with his girlfriend and a female child (unclear if she is his biological child).  He’s been described as generally quiet and upbeat, a former Army Specialist who was unflappable and a hard worker.  He had no record of violent crime.


Everything about this would leave you to believe that shortly before the night of February 1 something made Israel Keyes, a previously reasonable guy, horribly snap. 


That Keyes’ seemingly nonchalant exterior masks some disturbed wiring was clear in May, when during a hearing he somehow broke free from his leg irons and vaulted over the courtroom railings into the spectator area.  Deputy marshals, using a Taser, quickly got him under control.  One supervisor with the U.S. Marshals service was quoted as saying that in 20 years he’s never seen anyone pull loose like that; it’s still unclear how Keyes did it.


But what I find really chilling is the news that Keyes looks like the prime suspect in a double murder that took place six months before he abducted Koenig and clear across the country.


I wrote previously about the disappearance of Bill and Lorraine Currier, a low-key middle-aged couple who vanished on June 8 or early June 9, 2011 from their home in Essex Junction, Vermont.  A windowpane in their kitchen door was shattered.  The phone line had been cut.  Lorraine’s .38-caliber pistol was missing, along with her purse.  Their car had been driven a short distance to a nearby apartment complex.


WCAX, a television station in Vermont, is reporting that Keyes checked into a hotel in Essex on June 8 and checked out the following day.  Authorities won’t go on record that Keyes is their suspect but will confirm they believe the Curriers were murdered, it was a random act, and that the person responsible is in custody in another state, and he’s not going anywhere.


What connection Keyes has to Essex, if any, is unclear.  He owns a cabin in Constable, New York, which is about 100 miles away.  His target of the Curriers is puzzling.  Their house was located in the middle of the street, and nothing about their property, or them as people, would seem to flag attention.


A Facebook page, “Have you Ever Met Israel Keyes? Possible Serial Killer” is devoted to creating a timeline and background for Keyes.  When did he go bad, and how far, and random, was his reach?  Determining that will be key.

The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary:
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Know what he does believe in? PAC $. Took 10K from HRC pac 2006. That means he's in her pocket.#BSLogic
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Good one. Unfortunately Bernie on record as not believing in charity.
@johnlevenstein Thanks for asking, btw. That's the kind of elevated discourse missing lately. A lot of mud slinging. #I'mNotAboveItEither
@johnlevenstein Can't convey it all thru Twitter but yes, she has flaws. Too poll-driven, burned needed bridges, trouble owning mistakes.