Newly released details about suspected Alaskan serial killer Israel Keyes’ attacks showed two abduction-killings and notable similarities.
Keyes -- a 34-year-old Anchorage construction worker who was found dead in an apparent jailhouse suicide Sunday -- scouted his locations and selected isolated targets to attack, authorities said. He kidnapped his victims and used zip ties to bind them.
In the two cases, his victims tried to escape. Bill Currier, 49, and Lorraine Currier, 55, fled after he’d brought them to a barn after kidnapping them from their Essex, Vt., home, authorities disclosed this week. And Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig fled across the parking lot from her coffee bar, even though Keyes had bound her hands. He tackled and subdued her, officials said Tuesday.
Keyes sexually assaulted and asphyxiated both female victims, then left the region but later returned to the crime scenes, authorities say. He also hid the bodies and apparently planned to dispose of them later, they said.
Keyes told officials that he had killed as many as eight people across the U.S. since 2001. Whether any of the patterns in these two attacks were repeated in other killings remains unknown. Officials have not publicly identified any potential open homicide cases that could be examined for possible links to Keyes.
Keyes had already slain Koenig and left town to go on a cruise more than two weeks before he began demanding ransom for her release, according to a statement released by the FBI on Tuesday.
Officials said Keyes kidnapped Koenig at gunpoint Feb. 1 from Common Grounds because it stayed open later than other coffee shops. He sexually assaulted and asphyxiated her, leaving her body in a shed, they said. When he returned Feb. 17, Keyes posed Koenig’s corpse with a newspaper to make her appear to be alive, then dismembered her body and dumped it in a nearby lake, according to authorities.
The details of the attack on Koenig had been withheld for months as authorities painstakingly extracted partial confessions from Keyes, who had been arrested in Texas in March.
Before Keyes’ death, he had confessed to killing up to eight people, including the Vermont couple on June 8, 2011, authorities said. He alluded to killing four unidentified victims in Washington state and another person on the East Coast, authorities said.
Officials also revealed that Keyes had partially funded his attacks with bank robberies and that he’d stashed weapons, money and supplies for hiding bodies across the country in anticipation of future attacks.
Keyes told investigators that he had looked for victims in remote locations, such as parks, campgrounds, trailheads, cemeteries and boating areas, the FBI said in a statement.
Koenig appeared to be his final victim.
As Keyes prepared to kidnap her, he tried to remove distinguishing characteristics from his white truck, stripping off the license plates and mounted tool boxes, officials said. But his plan to collect ransom from Koenig’s family hit snags when he realized Koenig didn’t have her phone -- which he needed to send ransom notes via text message -- or a debit card, which he needed to collect the money, officials said.
Keyes returned to the coffee shop to get her cellphone, hiding Koenig in a shed in front of his house, officials said. He left a radio playing at high volume so no one could hear her cry for help. He then set off to find the truck she shared with her boyfriend, which contained the debit card.
Keyes got the debit card, but the boyfriend chased him off. Keyes had obtained the PIN from Koenig. He tested the card before returning to the shed, where he assaulted and killed her, officials said.
He left town the next morning on a planned cruise from New Orleans.
After he returned, Keyes took a Polaroid of Koenig’s body posed with a copy of the Anchorage Daily News from four days earlier, authorities said. He used a photocopy of the picture for his $30,000 ransom demand, which he left in a park, officials said. Police recovered the note and helped coordinate the transfer of money, which Koenig’s father raised from the community, police said.
Officials tracked Keyes’ withdrawals in Alaska and across the Southwest before his arrest. After his confession, he directed investigators to Koenig’s dismembered body, below the iced surface of Matanuska Lake north of Anchorage, officials said.