Alaska slaying suspect kills himself; officials link him to more


A man suspected of kidnapping and killing an Anchorage barista committed suicide in jail Sunday, according to police, who said he could be linked to seven other slayings.

Israel Keyes, 34, an Anchorage construction worker, had been accused of kidnapping, killing and hiding the body of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig in a frozen lake in February. Authorities did not say how he killed himself.

According to a federal indictment, Keyes killed Koenig but tried to make it appear that she was still alive. He used her phone to send text messages demanding that ransom be sent to the account of a stolen debit card, which he had taken from a vehicle used by Koenig, the indictment said. He obtained the PIN number from her, scratched it onto the card, and made withdrawals across the U.S. Southwest, the indictment said. He was arrested in Texas on March 13.


During a hearing in Anchorage in May, Keyes tried to escape from the courtroom, breaking out of his restraints and jumping a rail leading to a spectator gallery. Officers shocked him with a stun gun and restrained him.

Even after the brazen escape attempt, Keyes still spoke with investigators, officials revealed at a news conference Sunday.

Officials said that they had spent dozens of hours interviewing Keyes since his arrest and that he had disclosed information in increments. Investigators said they had spoken with him as recently as Thursday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Officials said he confessed to killing Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., who had been reported missing in June 2011, the Associated Press reported. He had also apparently implicated himself in the killings of four people in Washington state and one in New York, but he didn’t provide names.

“This has been massive,” Karen Loeffler, U.S. attorney for Alaska, said of the investigation, the Daily News reported. “It started out massive with the Anchorage Police Department doing everything they possibly could to find Samantha Koenig under the hope that she was still alive. And it evolved into massive when we found out what we had.”

Michelle Tasker, a spokeswoman for the Koenig family, told KTUU Channel 2 News on Sunday that the family was disappointed by Keyes’ suicide. “We would’ve obviously liked for him to have gone in front of a jury of his peers and answer for what he’s been accused of doing,” Tasker said. “He did an injustice again to Samantha.”


A Currier family member expressed a different perspective.

“After some thinking, our family has been saved the long road ahead — trials, possible plea agreements and possible appeals — and perhaps this was the best thing that could have happened,” Marilyn Chates, Bill Currier’s mother, told The Associated Press from her home in Florida on Sunday evening. She said police had previously told her they thought the killing was random.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Vermont told the AP in a statement that it had been cooperating with Alaska officials since April.

In July, the U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont had released a vaguely worded statement on the Curriers’ disappearance announcing that officials had been searching a landfill for 11 weeks based on “investigative leads from a federal investigation in another state.” The statement also said, “The person believed to have committed the murders is in custody in another state and will remain in custody.

The U.S. attorney’s offices in Alaska and Vermont did not immediately respond to messages from the Los Angeles Times left after hours on Sunday evening.

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