|Keyes in 2006.|
Israel Keyes. A "force of pure evil, acting at random," according to the U.S. Attorney for Vermont, Tristam Coffin. He shivered with adrenaline when recounting his crimes. "He liked what he was doing. He talked about getting a rush out of it, the adrenaline, the excitement," said FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden. He burglarized houses across the country, between twenty and thirty total. (109) He buried buckets and tool boxes, dubbed "murder kits" by the media, across the United States. They contained cable ties. Duct tape. Guns. Silencers. Flares. ("A handy way to start a fire," Keyes comments.) Other things to assist in abduction, murder, arson, robbery. Sometimes he buried cash. One stash was in Alaska. One was in New York. One had been in Vermont. One had been in Texas, before he dug it up to recover cash from a bank robbery he'd committed a month prior. The possibility of several in Washington. One in Wyoming. And perhaps more, elsewhere. (1, 97) When asked why he would think to bury these supply buckets, he laughed and responded, "C'mon, everybody loves buried treasure." (97) Asked about motivation for his plethora of crimes, he explains, "(I)t's not so much why I did it, as why not?" (97)
"There is no one who knows me – or who has ever known me – who knows anything about me, really... They're going to tell you something that does not line up with anything I tell you because I'm two different people basically."
"How long have you been two different people?" Kevin Feldis, of the U.S. Attorney's Office asked.
Israel chuckled. "Long time. Fourteen years." (2)
Heidi Hakansson is born on the third of March in the year of 1954. On October fourth of 1952, John Jeffrey Keyes is born in California. On census records, he is listed as a "maintenance man". (3)
Heidi and John are married on the twentieth of May of 1975. Gerald Ford is president and the last American troops had left Saigon twenty days earlier.
Almost exactly a year later, Heidi gives birth to their first child – a little girl. At some point between late May of 1976 and January of 1978, the Keyes family moves to Richmond, Utah. A town of just shy 2,000 people located roughly a hundred miles north-east of Salt Lake City, where the two claims to fame are a scene from “Napoleon Dynamite” having been filmed there, and "Black and White Days", which celebrates Holstein cattle.
An unnamed babysitter says that the family belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) at the time she worked for John and Heidi. (4) However, Israel tells Anchorage Police Officer Jeff Bell that he was not a Mormon – and SA Goeden says that, at least of early December 2012, investigators had not confirmed his religious upbringing. (5) He tells friends, neighbors, and co-workers in Neah Bay, Washington that he was raised Amish. (92)
January seventh of 1978, the day hovers around freezing. It is a Saturday. It dips into the twenties at night and settles in the mid thirties by noon. On this day, Heidi and John have their second child – a boy this time. They name him Israel, which means "struggles with God". They do not give him a middle name. He is born at home.
The Keyes family moves to Stevens County, Washington when Israel is young. John Keyes purchases land just north of Colville, with a small cabin and no electricity. (9, 25)
From the time he is a child, Israel knows he is different than everyone around him. "He described that he had a fairly normal childhood and this was a proclivity that he always had, enjoying watching things suffer," says Frank Russo. (6) "Everyone keeps looking for a push point where this guy went sideways, but in my view it seemed like he was born this way. At some point he realized he was different. He always thought other people were pretending to be nice to other people and then he realized at some point only he was pretending." (7) Anchorage Police Officer Monique Doll says, "Israel Keyes didn't kidnap and kill people because he was crazy. He didn't kidnap and kill people because his deity told him to or because he had a bad childhood. Israel Keyes did this because he got an immense amount of enjoyment out of it, much like an addict gets an immense amount of enjoyment out of drugs. In a way, he was an addict, and he was addicted to the feeling that he got when he was doing this." (8)
In 1979, his next sister is born. In 1982, the Keyes have another girl. 1984, another girl. 1988, the family adds another son. 1990, another boy. 1993, another girl. And finally, in 1995, another boy. (3)
Israel grows fast, reaching his full adult height by the time most boys his age are in ninth grade. He carries a pistol with him everywhere he goes. He is muscular, and smart. Starting in their early teens, he and a childhood friend break into houses and burglarize them, something Keyes thinks of as "kid's stuff". (97)
"I didn't really look fourteen. And so I could get away with. Like the houses, the guns I took from houses I broke into, I could get away with selling them, you know, without anybody knowing about it. Without my parents knowing about it." (97)
His grandfather gifts him a .38 revolver when he is fourteen, and Israel Keyes builds his first silencer. He takes it into the woods to test. It doesn't work perfectly- but it does work. (96)
On one of their outings, he shoots and kills a cat or a dog, years later Israel can not recall which. The other boy is disturbed by what he sees. Israel understands at this age that he must hide certain facets of himself, in order to blend in.
"But I knew, I've known since I was fourteen that there was... there were things that... I thought were normal, and that were okay that nobody else seems to think are normal and okay." He laughs. "So that's when I just started being a loner, I guess. I got in trouble a few times around that age. People found out about some of the stuff I did, like, my parents and parents of other kids who would hang out with me who would find out about some of the stuff I did and that's when I just started doing stuff by myself. Pretty much exclusively." (97)
He recounts a specific instance where he realizes just how different he is. "When I was fourteen, there (were) some friends staying with us, and there was a cat of ours that was always getting into the trash... It was my sister's cat, and I told her at the time, I was like that cat gets into the trash again, I'm gonna kill it. And so there was this kids and some of his other... I think maybe one of my sisters and one of his sisters and we all went up into the woods and I had the cat with me. And (I) took a piece of parachute chord, and tied it to this tree... I had a .22 revolver with me... I shot (the cat) in the stomach. And it ran around and around the tree, and then like, crashed into the tree and then started... vomiting... For me, I didn't really react. I mean, I actually kinda laughed a little, I think, 'cause of the way it was running around the tree, but then I looked over at everybody else, and the kid who was about my age who was with me, he was throwing up, like, he was really traumatized, I guess you could say. And he told his dad about it... And then of course his dad talked to my parents about it. And that was pretty much the last time anybody went into the woods with me. I learned my lesson from that." (97)
In Washington, the Keyes children continue to be home schooled. There are differing reports on if the family attends a church called The Ark, and if they did, to what extent. At the time, The Ark was affiliated with the Christian Identity movement, which espouses white supremacist beliefs. According to a blog entry on the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, a "source with direct knowledge of the situation" purportedly said, "The Keyeses... were neighbors and friends (with the Kehoe family) and lived about a half mile apart off Aladdin Road north of Colville." (11)
Pastor Dan Henry- who was Pastor at the Ark in the nineties- told KREM in Spokane that the Kehoe brothers, who made national headlines when one of them tried to shoot an Ohio state trooper in 1997, came to the church once – and only once. "Keyes attended a couple of times and never returned." (12)
Despite the possible connection to a church that had white supremacist affiliations, and the claims that he was friends with the Kehoe brothers, the suggestion of Israel Keyes having been a white supremacist are vehemently denied by all that knew him, considering the close relationships he developed while working for the Makah Nation in Neah Bay, Washington. (92) He also gives no indications of holding any type of white supremacist views, when interviewed by authorities.
|From Keyes Construction website.|
In 1997, one of his younger sisters (Autumnrose) says that she turns to "rebellion" against her strict religious upbringing and had friends her parents did not like and listened to music they forbade. "At 13 I fell into grievous sin that my parents did not know about," she wrote in a "testimony" for the Church of Wells website. "I began to doubt God's existence and planned to leave my family as soon as possible and dive head first into sin. I've thanked God many times for my earthly father, who was a strict man. When my sins came to light by God's mercy, he pulled me away from my circumstances and moved the family to an Amish community." (15)
In the 1990s the Keyes family moves to Smyrna, Maine and becomes involved in the maple syrup business. A neighbor recalls Israel as a nice, courteous young man. According to a caption on an image on his website, he helps his sister build a cabin in Houlton, Maine. (16)
On October 23 1997, John Keyes buys a house on Poplar Street in Constable, New York for $15,000 and puts it in Israel's name. It is a single family home that is approximately 896 square feet, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and located on 9.76 acres of land. It was built in 1890. (19) Willard and Bonnie Patnode, who live on Poplar Street, said that they recalled an Amish family with children living at the cabin for several months over the summer of 2008 or 2009. When shown a picture of Israel, neither of the Patnodes recognized him. (20) Later, Israel Keyes tells investigators that he lived in New York for a year, up near Malone. (95, 98)
In his late teens or early twenties, he rejects the faith of his parents (17, 18, 92) and openly declares himself an Atheist. As a result, he is kicked out of the house, shunned and not allowed to have contact with his younger siblings.
1998 - 2005
Israel Keyes rapes- but does not kill- his first victim in along the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon sometime between 1996 and 1998. (Author's note: it makes sense that it would have been between January and July of 1998. In an interview in 2012 he said that he has been "two different people" (2) for fourteen years- which would place the "divide" in 1998. He went to New Jersey and enlisted in the Army on the ninth of July (21). The logical conclusion drawn is that the rape would have happened prior to that.) The victim, who is between 14 and 18 years old at the time, is with friends and floating down the Deschutes river near Maupin. Keyes is able to discreetly separate her from the group, sexually assaults her, puts her back on the innertube, and allows her to float away. (109) To date, authorities have not been able to find any relevant police reports that would fit this scenario, and it is possible that the victim never reported it. (22) Lane Magill, the undersheriff for Wasco County, said, "If it got reported, we would have a record of it. I mean, we don't take those kind of cases lightly here, that's for sure. I think that we either have a victim out there that did not report it, or it actually didn't happen." (87) Keyes never specifies why he chose to not murder her. (23)
While in the Army, he serves as a Specialist in the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry and is stationed at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) near Tacoma, Washington and Fort Hood, Texas. He trains in Sinai, Egypt. (24)
Sean McGuire, a soldier who shares barracks with Keyes, forms a camaraderie with him while training in Egypt and later says he was disturbed by a "dark side" to Keyes that would occasionally surface. When offended by McGuire's comments, Keyes would drop his head, McGuire recalled, knit his brow, lower his voice and say, "I want to kill you, McGuire." (25)
|July 2000. Photo credit: Sean McGuire.|
In May of 2001 he gets a DUI in Thurston County, Washington (case number C17358TC) (26). Later he gets a state charge for driving with a suspended license. (27) Up until his arrest in March of 2012, these were his only brushes with the law.
He waits until after he leaves the military to commit his first homicide. (31)
After his Honorable Discharge, he moves to Neah Bay, Washington, a small town in the furthest northwest corner of the contiguous forty-eight states. The population at the time he lived there was roughly 800 people – 282 households. He fishes on Lake Ozette. (28)
He works as the lead in the Parks and Recreation department for the Makah Nation. (13) He is well-liked in the community and drives around with "heavy metal blaring out of the windows, wearing cut-off Slayer shirts and a tool belt 24/7." People like his friendly demeanor and solid work ethic. (92)
From his company website:
"Worked for the Makah Tribal Council in Neah Bay, Wa. as the lead in their brand new Parks and Recreation dept. Built many trails, recreational buildings and assisted the public works department in times of need or emergency situations. Coordinated the purchase, maintenance, and operation of machinery and equipment including a pump truck and portable as well as permanent remote toilet facilities. Neah Bay is a very small village and my position with the Tribe and the projects that I completed for them gave me a excellent reputation with the locals. This allowed me the unique opportunity to do a wide variety of construction projects for many customers on weekends."
While on the peninsula, he builds an open air village market for the Makah tribe and a timber/stick frame office he designed for the caretaker of the Makah Tribal campground.
He takes his first murder victim in Washington between July and October 2001. (109)
Keyes tells investigators, "Back when I was smart, I would let them come to me, kind of in a remote area that's not anywhere near where you live, but that other people go as well. You might not get exactly what you're looking for, there's not much to pick from, so to speak. But there's also no witnesses, there's nobody else around." (29, 30)
He dates a local woman and soon after, they have a daughter. (25) (92)
David Kanters, who worked with Keyes' girlfriend whom he lived with in Anchorage, told the LA Times, "He seemed totally normal. He was quiet; he was more reserved, I guess, but you never would have picked him out for doing something like this... In no sense of the word was he in any way weird." (23) Later, Kanters would also tell the Associated Press, "He had everyone fooled. THAT is the scary part. He came across as a normal guy." (25)
Jim Thompson, a volunteer who helped Keyes clean up community areas around Neah Bay, said, "He would tell me about his days in the armed services and the parties they had. He would lovingly talk about his daughter, or tell me when he'd been up late because she was sick." (23)
"He was an awesome father, and (his daughter) was his world," says a source close to the family. (92)
On the thirteenth of November 2002, John Keyes passes away. (32) Israel travels to the funeral. (92)
October sixth, Israel Keyes boards a plan at SeaTac and flies to Manchester, New Hampshire. He departs Manchester ten days later and returns home. April twentieth through April twenty-fifth of 2005, he travels through Washington state and into British Columbia. October third of 2005, he flies out of LAX and arrives in Belize. He departs Belize on the thirty-first of October.
After several years together, Israel and the mother of his child separate. He fights for custody and remains active in his child's life. He and his ex remain on good terms and he is a loving and committed father.
Between 2001 and 2005 he murders an unidentified couple in Washington. He later alludes to the fact that he buried the couple in or near a valley. Their bodies have not been recovered, and law enforcement is currently attempting to determine who the potential victims were. (109) In addition, he takes two separate victims in the summer or autumn months of 2005 and/or 2006, and disposes of the bodies in lakes- one of those lakes being Lake Crescent in Washington state. (109) Nothing further is known of these victims, aside from hints he gave- they were taken from secluded areas, and there was not extensive press coverage about their disappearance. Neither of the bodies have been found.
In all of these crimes, it's possible that he moved the victim's vehicles to they were discovered in another location. (109)
In 2006, Israel Keyes enrolls in a race series on the Washington peninsula called the Athlete's Choice Race Series. On March eleventh, he participates in the Lincoln Park Run (Port Angeles) and clocks in at 44:42. On April eighth, he does the Robin Hill Run 10k/5k (Sequim) and comes in at 45:39. On May 6th he does the Sequim Run Off 10k/5k and comes in at 41:25. (33)
Four days later, on May tenth, Keyes flies out of Portland, Oregon and arrive in San Diego, California. He flies home five days later.
On June eleventh, he runs the North Olympic Discovery Marathon and Half Marathon and comes in at 3:56:51, under bib 2438. He places a respectable 90 out of the over 200 other people who ran. (33)
|Military years. (Credit?)|
Almost six years later, under arrest in Anchorage, Keyes tells detectives how proud he is that he had gone undetected for so many years. (34)
In Port Angeles, he meets a woman and falls in love. The two date and when she gets a job in Anchorage, they make plans to move to Alaska.
September first, he flies to Anchorage and stays through seventh. On October twenty-first, he flies From Seattle into San Diego. He has no known rental car, but he walks across the border into San Ysidro, Mexico, on the twenty-second. He leaves San Diego the following day. November eighth, he flies to Anchorage again. He stays for about a week and flies back to Washington
2007 - 2008
Israel travels extensively in the Lower Forty-Eight in 2007.
February fifth, he flies to Las Vegas, Nevada. He comes home on the eighth.
|At work in Alaska. From Keyes Construction website.|
Paul Adelman, an attorney who hired Keyes for construction projects, first in 2008, said he was "reliable, unfailingly polite and responsive – you called, he called you back. I completely trusted him with his work. If he gave me a bill, I always paid, no questions asked." (23) Adelman also said, "I never got any bad, weird, scary, odd vibe from him in any way, shape or form." (16)
April twenty-fourth he flies from Anchorage to Oakland, California. He rents a vehicle and puts 1,444 miles on the engine, then leaves Oakland on the fourth of May. On August twenty-sixth, he flies from Anchorage to Seattle. He rents a vehicle and drives out to Neah Bay, then to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he rents a different vehicle. He flies from Salt Lake City into Seattle on September sixth, waits in SeaTac for his layover, then returns to Anchorage. October twenty-ninth, he flies from Anchorage to Los Angeles, California, then flies home on the second of November. December fourth, he flies from Anchorage to Indianapolis, Indiana to visit family. He boards a plane home on the sixteenth.
He is meticulous and clever and incredibly smart. He flies into a city, rents a vehicle, and drives hundreds – sometimes thousands of miles. He picks victims at random. He robs banks and buries some of the money to be used later. (7) "He was not only very intelligent, he was very adaptable and he had a lot of self-control. Those three things combined made him extraordinarily difficult to catch," say Officer Doll. (25)
His travel habits continue in earnest throughout 2008.
In late January, he flies from Anchorage to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, then continues on to Mobile, Alabama. He rents a vehicle and drives 691 miles, then flies out of Mobile, destined for Seattle, on February sixth. He rents a car in Seattle and drives 1,152 miles, visiting Neah Bay and other unknown places. He flies home on the fifteenth of February.
May eleventh through seventeenth, according to the FBI timeline, Israel travels through the West.
October twenty-fourth, Israel Keyes flies into Seattle. He spends a day in Washington, then boards a plan on the twenty-fifth for Minneapolis, Minnesota. From there, he continues on to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Investigators could find no record of a rental car, but on October thirtieth, he is in Phoenix, Arizona and boards a plane for San Francisco. He stays in California for a night, then flies to Seattle on the thirty-first. He rents a vehicle in SeaTac and puts 626 miles on it (likely driving to Neah Bay), returns it on November second, and flies from Seattle to Boston, Massachusetts. He stays in Boston for several days, and on the fifth of November, flies back to Anchorage by way of Seattle.
December fifth through seventh, he vacations in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later that month, he flies to Cancun, Mexico and stays until December twenty-fifth.
2009 - 2010
In 2009, Israel Keyes travels less often than in prior years, but more detailed information is known about his criminal activity this year than any of those prior.
On February twenty-third, he flies to Burbank, California and stays for four days before flying home.
On the first of April, he flies into Seattle, Washington and rents a car. He drives 637 miles and visits Neah Bay, then returns the car and boards a plane for Manchester, New Hampshire on the seventh of April.
He rents another vehicle. All-told, he puts 1,047 miles on the car over the course of his travels in New England.
On the ninth of April, he abducts and murders a woman and disposes of either all of or part of the body in the Adirondacks. (35) (98) (109)
On the tenth of April, he drives to Tupper Lake, New York – only sixty miles south of his property in Constable, where he lived for a year.
He deals with the fake mustache and goatee and checks them in the mirror. They look fake, but it doesn't really matter. They're only going to be on his face for a short amount of time. Just as long as it takes to rob a bank. He's already wearing sunglasses, a Carhartt jacket, jeans, gray sneakers and two-tone gloves.
There aren't many people out. This area is usually quiet, but it's notably traffic-free today. It's a spur of the moment kind of thing to commit the robbery. He secures the 10/22 Ruger Charger in its breakaway holster under his jacket and grabs his Smith & Wesson .40 semi-automatic. The forty cal is for show, but the 10/22 is his practical gun. "Usually if I'm going to do some crazy stuff in broad daylight, (a 10/22 is) my backup plan," he tells investigators later. (97)
|Keyes robs bank in Tupper Lake, NY.|
He drives to a nearby campground and spends several hours there, as emergency response vehicles swarm the location of the robbery. (109)
Afterward, he buries a toolbox about a half mile down a path at the Woodside Natural Area in Essex, Vermont. In it, he puts desiccant, the .40 caliber, and the 10/22, and sprays everything down with rust protectant (96). He stays several days at the Handy Suites in Essex, a hotel he will return to in two more years. (34, 99)
Israel later notes that missing men don't attract much attention. "Oddly the bank robbery I did in New York got more publicity than the person I took and killed," he tells Russo. (7)
On the fourteenth, he boards a plane in Manchester and flies home.
June first of 2009, Keyes' girlfriend purchases a house on Spurr Lane, in the Turnagain neighborhood of Anchorage. Israel and his girlfriend move in, and some time during this year, he gains custody of his daughter. (92)
Russell Gunderson, a neighbor on Spurr Lane who never met Keyes, later says, "Nothing suspicious at all, except for that he worked hard. You know, he was always on the go." (27) Another neighbor, who requested to not be named, said, "They (Keyes and his girlfriend) would have friends over, but it never got noisy." She was "stunned" by the arrest. "He wasn't overly friendly. But you'd wave to him and say 'hi' and he'd wave back. He never raised his voice at the two or three kids who would come over and visit." She recalls that he had worked on the place where he lived and said, "He did beautiful work." (36)
Between family commitments, work contracts, and travels, he has a hobby to engage in.
"I had a moving target system, to where I could trip the target and it would start rolling downhill on a pulley. And it was just a piece of printer paper, but then I would put a black mark, spray paint a black mark about that big for aiming at and that's what I was shooting at with it, at about fifty yards. And that was a plan... That's one of the ways I – one of the ideas I had, for carjackings. Shoot out their tire while they were pulling up to a stop sign or something... Didn't find any good roads or places to do it, so... Especially when you get out in the back woods, people are pretty naive and don't really expect anything bad to happen to 'em.” He pauses and laughs. “So you don't really have to do anything as crazy as shooting out their tires, but... that was one of the ideas I've had. Partly because you're on a road with the right amount of traffic, you can set up in the right spot... and sit there with binoculars and kind of stake out who is in the car. Like shopping. … If it's in the evening and there's not a lot of people around, it's on a backwoods road that gets a car every five or ten minutes, you shoot out someone's tires, she's by herself, and she doesn't have much choice but to stop. If you shoot it out with the .22 in the sidewall, it's... she's gonna have to stop in half a mile of where you shoot it out." (98)
He laughs when questioned about his allusion to having "big plans" for his favorite gun, and says, "I have hundreds of plans..." (98)
Despite his love of firearms, he describes his interest as being utilitarian. "I never had any interest in using guns, in most things that I'd do... for the most part, they're just tools that I use, is pretty much how I look at them." (98)
According to the FBI timeline, September eleventh through October third, Israel travels through the Southern United States.
On December seventeenth, he flies from Anchorage into Orlando, Florida. There was no record of a rental car, and he flies home on the twenty-ninth. January eleventh through February twenty-fifth of 2010, he travels through the Western United States.
Conflicting information was released from the FBI and via the Anchorage Police Department as far as his travels.
On July seventh, he flies from Anchorage to Seattle and rents a vehicle. He visits Neah Bay, then flies out of Seattle on the ninth, destined for Sacramento, California. He rents another vehicle and puts 232 miles on it, then departs Sacramento and returns home on the twelfth of July. July twentieth, he flies into Las Vegas, Nevada for two days. October fifteenth, he flies from Anchorage to Boston, Massachusetts, with a layover in Chicago, Illinois. Once in Boston, he rents a vehicle and puts an unknown number of miles on the car. He flies home ten days later.
April twenty-third, Israel boards a commuter plane to Juneau, Alaska. He rents a vehicle, puts an unknown number of miles on it, and flies home on the twenty-eighth.
|Keyes' suppressor. Photo credit: FBI.|
But testing the suppressor by shooting it into a bucket of water is only so rewarding. He wants to try it out under real-life conditions. (37)
He has Drano and a shovel stashed along Eagle River, north of Anchorage. (88) The drain de-clogger, he explains to authorities, is to speed the decomposition of a body. (38)
|Drano near Eagle River. Credit: FBI.|
Detective Doll later observes that the "cooling off" period between his crimes is getting shorter. His composure and his methodical nature are slipping. (37) He is losing control.
On June second, Israel Keyes flies into Chicago O'Hare. He empties, locks, declares, and checks his 10/22 Charger, an unassuming .22 semi-automatic that looks like a shortened rifle. He disassembles his homemade silencer into its separate parts. (35, 98)
He rents a vehicle from Hertz and drives east. He visits family in Indiana for several days.
He drives to Vermont. (95)
|Pathway in Woodside. Credit: me.|
A year later, Mr. Feldis will ask him, "How many other weapons caches do you have?" Keyes laughs. "If I tell you that, I'll never be able to use them again," then laughs again. Feldis responds, "I thought you'd kinda resigned yourself to that..." Keyes sounds amused, the smile audible in his voice. "You never know... maybe the apocalypse will hit." (96)
He shops at the Lowe's across from his hotel- and then drives to several other stores- until he finds 55 gallon trash bags. (95)
He begins to look for places to bring victims. He drives up and down Upper Main Street, searching for something to catch his eye. There's the utilitarian option of taking someone north to a National Park. Or there's a more personal option, of taking someone to a church. "... It's not so much I care, but, you know. I had it in my mind that I was gonna start using churches," he later tells investigators. He explains further, "... That's what I was looking for in Vermont, was a church. To take someone to... I have a lot of issues with organized religion." He laughs thinking about it. "I'm sure it has something to do with the way I was raised, but for the most part, it's just my general outlook on life and humanity, I guess... So when I first decided to do something in Vermont, that's why I was looking at churches, because I had plans that whoever I was gonna take was either gonna end up in the church and leave 'em there for whoever went to that church that weekend to find, or I was gonna, you know, burn the church with them in it."
In 2011, he begins to wonder what would happen if he got more publicity. His crimes have gone under-reported, undetected, unquestioned, for thirteen years. He wants to up the ante. To push it further. To get recognition, though only if his name is not connected to the deeds. (97)
On his drive, he finds an abandoned farmhouse at 32 Upper Main Street in Essex, with a for sale sign out front. He picks it because it's out of the way and it's vacant. Parked across the street, there is a sheriff's car. It's still there when he comes back, later, and he laughs at the irony in retrospect. (95)
Israel pulls up to the house and parks around back. He thinks, if anybody asks me what I'm doing, I'm thinking about buying this place.
|32 Upper Main Street. Google maps.|
Israel goes back downstairs, then descends into the basement. He ducks to avoiding hitting his head on the support beams and looks around in the murk. The room is about twenty by thirty feet. Along the back wall, there are some built-in shelves, on which old, rusted tools are scattered. There's debris strewn about- wood, garbage, all kinds of things left over from when people inhabited this place.
The house isn't salvageable. Anybody who will be looking at the property to buy won't be interested in the house, so, he reasons if he ends up having to leave the bodies there, it's likely that they'll just be hauled away with the rest of the detritus should someone purchase the place and decide to demolish the structure. If someone smells something rotting, well, it's an old farmhouse. It's not entirely unusual to smell something dead in an old farmhouse.
He decides that this is where he will bring his victim. (95, 96, 97)
He thinks, If I'm gonna do something here, I'm gonna go all out. (97) His meticulous mind goes to work.
He'll rob a bank. Not just one bank, though. Three. And not in his car. He'll find someone to take- he wants to murder a single man this time. He'll find a man with a decent but generic car, and bring him to this house. He'll terrorize him. Strangle the life from him. Burn the building if it stops raining, if not, go with the contingency plan and secure the corpse in garbage bags. And then, in the morning, he'll take the car and drive north on highway 15, and he'll rob a bank. Hit the next bank on the way back south. And then another bank. He'll park the car in the lot at Woodside Natural Area, torch the vehicle, then go check into another hotel for the night in Essex. (97)
With this plan in mind, Israel leaves the farmhouse and goes back to Handy Suites.
All of the guns are ready to go. Cleaned. Oiled. Assembled. He picks up his backpack and collects his tools. Cable ties. Duct tape. Blindfolds. His gloves. His 10/22 Charger, with the silencer affixed. The .40 semi-automatic. A few other sundry items. It's dark outside. Eight or nine in the evening. He pulls on his rain jacket, zippers it up, and puts on his backpack. He goes for a walk.
There aren't many people out, as it has been raining off and on all day. He moves, entirely unnoticed. Just another normal, average man. His hood up and head down, pale eyes searching, appraising, studying. The sound of cars as this hiss past on wet cement.
Several hundred feet away, there is an apartment complex, surrounded by trees. He loiters behind the treeline, in the darkness, and stakes out the building. He knows what he's looking for and it's only a matter of time before he gets what he wants. Rain splashes onto him, fat droplets sliding off of the leaves above, off of the hood and past his line of vision. The earth is muddy below his feet. His heart rate picks up. He trembles in the cold, he shakes with excitement. Flickers of lightning and the rumble of thunder.
A yellow Volkswagen pulls up and parks nearby. A man behind the wheel, no passengers. Israel readies the gun in his hands, the metal cold in his already cold hands, and he holds his breath, savoring the anticipation. He proceeds. Steps out of the wooded area, feet on the pavement, advancing on the car.
The man is oblivious of the stranger who approaches. He jumps out of the car with the day's newspaper raised over his head, and he scurries to the front door of his apartment. He goes in.
Israel disappears back into the dark and waits, but the man never comes back out. If the man would have been five seconds slower getting his front door unlocked, it would have been this man, not the Curriers, who "got it that night." (97)
Back in his hotel room, Israel reformulates his plan. He decides that he'll take a couple, instead.
At about midnight, he leaves his room. He leaves his cell phone on the bedside table.
He walks around the neighborhoods behind the hotel.
As ever, he knows what he's looking for. A one-level house that has an attached single-car garage with no vehicles parked in the driveway. The couple must not have a dog. The couple must not have any children living at home. He is ruthless in his crimes, but not without a code, of sorts. "The one thing that I won't do is mess with kids. That's kinda another thing that goes back to me feeling like I was starting to lose control a little bit, because I had never really thought that way until I had (my daughter), until (my daughter) was born. And then after she was born, I didn't, you know. Something kinda changed in the way I thought and I didn't want to do anything that would mess with kids, or whatever. But other than that, it's never really been about... until very recently, it wasn't about that. Like I say, before that, I was looking for a guy to carjack." (97)
He pauses at 8 Colbert Street – which is less than a half-mile from his hotel. (link for the map of locations) Bill and Lorraine Currier were picked purely on circumstances, and no other reason.
"There was an enormous risk he had to take to go into a neighborhood he's unfamiliar with, into a house of people he's unfamiliar with and remove them in their own vehicle. A rational-thinking person would think the chances of getting caught are very high," Lieutenant George Murtie of Essex, Vermont said. (34)
He walks through the backyard and hears a fan in a specific bedroom and now knows what room they are asleep in. He locates the phone line going into the house and cuts it. He waits.
If they had an alarm system, it would have been triggered by now and the police would have arrived. But they do not.
When it becomes apparent no authorities will appear, he grabs a patio chair and puts it under a window in the garage that has a fan in it. He removes the fan from a window and lifts himself through the frame, and looks around.
The car door is unlocked. He pulls out the registration and other papers and discovers that an older couple live in the house. He checks for any toys, or things related to children, and doesn't see anything like that. He checks the back seat of their vehicle for dog hair and finds none. This is the "right house". (97)
He unlocks the deadbolt into the garage and walks out to check out the neighborhood further. A neighbor keeps coming out of his home to smoke in the backyard, and his Golden Retriever keeps barking. Israel Keyes can wait, though, and he does. Once the man takes his dog back inside, and hasn't come out for some time, Keyes moves into action.
It's a little past one in the morning, on Thursday June ninth.
He walks back into the garage, picks up a crowbar, and breaks the window in the door which leads from the garage into their house. He winces at the sound, but there's nothing to be done for it. He is sure they are still asleep, though. He reaches through the broken window, mindful of the shards of glass, and unlocks the door. He dons a headlamp. Zip ties in his pockets and .40 in hand, he runs what he would later call a "blitz" attack.
He has correctly surmised the layout of the house by seeing the exterior. He runs directly into the bedroom of Lorraine and William Currier, who are still asleep. They are restrained with zip ties within five to six seconds of his entering their house.
Keyes asks the frightened couple for their wallet, purse, and any guns. He takes Lorraine Currier's Smith & Wesson featherweight snub nose .38 pistol and brings it with him. He hauls the couple to their feet and forces them into their car at gunpoint. Israel tries to push the driver's seat back to accommodate his long legs, but the seat is obstructed by something. And then he drives them to the abandoned farmhouse on Upper Main Street – a roughly three mile drive which would have taken six minutes.
He examines their cellular phones. He considers texting their friends and family with a message pretending to be Bill and Lorraine, claiming that they are going on vacation. He considers writing a ransom note. This plan is abandoned when he finds that their phones do not have texting capabilities. (95)
Still wearing the headlamp, he brings Bill Currier to the basement and zip ties him. By the time Keyes returns to the car, he finds Lorraine running toward Upper Main Street, having freed herself of restraints. He gives chase and tackles her, drags her back to the house, up the stairs, where he re-ties her. From the basement, Bill Currier screams for his wife. Israel Keyes plods down the stairs and finds him free of his zip ties, as well. They scuffle. Up until that point, Bill Currier had been trying to talk the stranger out of whatever his intentions were, but Keyes observes, "some people you can't really tell how they're gonna react until they get pushed to a certain point, and then there's like, a different person who comes out, and that's kinda what happened with him, I think." (98) The more they fight, the more Keyes becomes frustrated with losing control of the situation. He had a specific way he wanted things done. A whole scenario planned out. And when it doesn't go his way, he loses control, in a way that he admits surprises even himself.
He pushes Bill back and leaves him alone in the darkness, ascends the stairs, and though he has a knife and the .40 caliber on him, he grabs his silenced Charger. He goes back down into the basement and when he returns, Bill is still there, feeling around in the pitch black. Israel Keyes levels his .22 and shoots Bill Currier numerous times, until he is dead. He then ascends the stairs to the second floor, sexually assaults Lorraine Currier, and strangles her into unconsciousness. He carries her down to the basement and then strangles her to death.
When done, he stuffs their bodies into the fifty-five gallon garbage bags. One bag from the feet up, one bag from the head down. He covers the bags with debris from the basement. His original plan to torch the house with the bodies in it must be abandoned. It's between six or seven in the morning and he doesn't want to start a big fire and attract attention. It has been raining all night, as well, and he figures the house won't burn well, anyway. "... I just figured I'd put 'em in the basement and bury 'em under a bunch of stuff and figured if they were found, there wasn't enough evidence there to tie me to it. And if they weren't, the plan was to go back there this year once there wasn't as much left and burn 'em." (96)
He realizes, while driving their car, that the vehicle has some "serious mechanical issues" and decides that it's better to ditch it than to stick with his original plan of taking it on a tour of local banks. (97) He chuckles and describes it to investigators later. "(I had) visions of me getting way up north of Burlington and breaking down with a car full of cash."
Less than a mile from Handy Suites, in the parking lot of an apartment complex, he parks the Currier's car. He makes sure there are no cameras around. He gets out, and he walks back to his hotel.
That morning, a man sees a "long-haired man" driving the green Saturn registered to the Curriers, on Pearl Street in Essex Junction – the street which he would leave the vehicle off of. (40)
He strides confidently from the parking lot. The light of dawn glistens on the sidewalk, reflected in the fresh rain. He smokes. Streetlights throw his shadow long on the ground, the glow of the rising sun on the horizon. Arms and back aching just a twinge from the carrying and running he'd done. Muscles trembling as the adrenaline wears off. Obsessing over the tiniest details of the previous hours. He enters a secured side-door at the Handy Suites, takes the stairs two at a time, unlocks his room and takes a hot shower. Stands under the water and thinks. The fan hums and the curtains sway as peeks of sunlight filter through. He dresses. He packs. He gets into his rental vehicle and drives east to Maine.
Friday morning, the Curriers' car is found, abandoned in a parking lot of an apartment complex at 203 Pearl Street. It's less than a mile from their house and a half-mile from his hotel.
Lieutenant Murtie would later interview Keyes after he confessed to the murder of the Curriers. "I would describe it as if I was talking to a contractor about the work I was going to have done and he was describing the work he had done in the past. There was no emotion or anything. Just flat." (34)
|Location of bucket in NY. Credit: FBI.|
On his return trip, he stops in New Hampshire, at White Mountain National forest. He drives back into a campground, then takes a suitcase out of his rental car. He walks further into the woods and puts the suitcase on the ground. Within it are the remnants of the Curriers' personal effects. Their cellular phones. Their identification. Jewelry. The keys to their car. Credit cards. He gathers up wood and piles it atop the suitcase, then starts a fire and drives away. (97)
On his way through New York he drops both Lorraine's .38 and the barrel of the 10/22 Charger into a reservoir in Parishville. He hides the Home Depot bucket under a slab of rock. He packs smaller rocks around it, along with branches and moss. (96) Sealed within this bucket are his sixteen inch homemade silencer, the .22 caliber Ruger minus the stock, a trigger mechanism with scope attached, a plastic stock with a sling, empty magazines, zip ties, ammunition, wires, a metal clip, and a flashlight. (66)
His return trip brings him back through Essex Junction, with the intention of checking on the Curriers' car. If it hasn't been discovered yet, he plans to torch it. It's nagged him the entire time he was in Maine. If the cops found it. If they managed to find any of his hair. He knows they won't find fingerprints, at least, since he was careful about wearing gloves. His concerns are ultimately unfounded, and the car is gone. There is police tape at the apartment parking lot. He continues on to Chicago, (97) returns his rental car, and flies to San Francisco, California on the fifteenth of June. The following day, he boards another plane, home to Anchorage.
He struggles to keep away from news stories online about the Currier disappearance, but some evenings, he can't fight it. A second glass of whiskey into the night and he finds himself scanning comments on the articles, and sometimes even leaving comments. Getting a kick out of how misdirected the police are. (97) He considers going back to the farmhouse, the next time he's in Vermont, and burning it to the ground to eliminate any evidence that may have still been there. He makes tentative plans to do exactly this, in March or April of 2012.
But other than that, Israel slips back into his routine without issue. It's business as usual. Working hard, spending time with his girlfriend, raising his child. (97)
The FBI timeline shows that between September fifteenth and twenty-fifth, he travels in the west.
October twenty-fifth through twenty-seventh, without his knowledge, the farmhouse at 32 Upper Main Street is demolished and the debris is transported to a landfill in Vermont. The google map satellite image reveals the cleared and filled space where the house once stood, abandoned and moldering, with four unassuming black fifty-five garbage bags in the basement. All now indiscriminately carted off to the dump.
In October or November of 2011, he purchases a police scanner.
On the night of Wednesday, February first, Israel Keyes goes for a drive. He's removed the tool box from his white Silverado. He's removed the license plates. He knows he is going to get up to no good. He's done his homework. He knows where he is headed. He is hunting again, eight months after his previous murder, looking to take someone.
A bit before eight that night, he parks his truck. He has zip ties in his pocket. He has his portable police scanner. And he has a handgun.
He puts the truck in park and lets his breath out in a slow, measured exhalation. Turns the vehicle off. He's in the parking lot between IHOP and Dairy Queen, in front of the Home Depot. It's where he bought the gloves he's wearing – a fact that the investigators watching surveillance video will figure out but still not be able to connect his name to a purchase. There aren't many people around. Snow berms are high that year – record levels of snow have fallen and there are huge, filthy piles of ice scraped in all corners of parking lots across the city. He pulls on a ski-mask and rolls it down over his face – not a wholly unusual thing to see in Alaska in early February. He picks up his travel mug. He shivers. He reprimands himself for what he's about to do. Tells himself that it's a bad idea. You don't do things near where you live. You don't have a lot of rules, but that's one of them. And you're breaking it. He gets out of his truck, anyway, and he walks, broad shoulders hunched, head down, just another Alaskan on the move. It's hovering around twenty degrees. Feels cooler, though. His breath is even. Exhalations are white in the chilly night air. The tip of his nose aches from the immediate cold. He sprints across East Tudor road, a five-lane highway that runs West-East through the city. This is still a bad idea, he tells himself again. He crosses the parking lot of the Alaska Club, a gym, which in the winter is open until ten at night. Some cars are parked there – but none belong to the barista. He knows this means she will be expecting a ride. And soon, since the closing time listed on the kiosk is eight. But he already knows they close late – that's why he's here. They're open later than any of the other kiosks in Anchorage. It's only four miles from his house. He is breaking his own rule. He's lost control. He knows that he's losing control. He had been killing for eleven years without suspicion. It is part of the fantasy to push the limits. Taunt the authorities a bit.
He approaches the coffee kiosk from the north-west. His image captured on the security camera, like footage from an independent horror film. A solitary figure, dark, with hands in the pockets of his coat, strolling on long legs across the well-packed snow. He hands her his travel mug and asks politely for an Americano. The barista smiles at him. Makes small talk as she tamps the grounds and dumps the espresso shots into the cup.
He has driven past Common Grounds, but this is his first time stopping. (41)
And then, he pulls a gun and points it at the eighteen-year-old woman. Samantha Koenig raises her hands instinctively as soon as she sees the gun and he tells her in a soft, calm voice to turn the lights out. She does, her hand passes inches from a panic button and the lights go out. He tells her she is being robbed. And she gives him all of the money in the register. Every last penny. He tells her to move closer to him with her hands behind her back. She eyes the gun. And she does what most people in customer service are told to do if robbed – comply. He reaches through the open window, produces zip ties, and restrains her wrists behind her back. He clips the tails off of the ties and tells her to lie on her stomach on the floor. She does. He shimmies through the open window and waits patiently. He is waiting for her boyfriend to show up – so he can take him, too. (42) After several minutes, though, he changes his mind, grabs her, and leaves out the door. At that point, she makes a run for it – just as Lorraine Currier did months before. Israel is a foot taller than Samantha, though, and stronger. He chases her down, tackles her, grabs her and walks back toward his truck the way he came. He presses the barrel to her ribs and tells her don't do anything to make me have to kill you. He instructs her to sway and act as though she is drunk, and he walks her across the busy street with his right arm around her. (43.)
"He knew all along he was going to kill her." (44)
She gets into the passenger side of the truck and he zip ties her to the seat belt, so she can't make another break for it, and he gets behind the wheel. He tells her that he's kidnapped her for ransom, and she tells him her family doesn't have much money. Israel reassures her in his soft, even voice that the people of Anchorage will raise the money. He drives her around town, being silent except when necessary to calm her down. (41)
Do you have your cellphone on you? he asks. No. She left it at Common Grounds.
Back in the kiosk, the phone lights up as a call comes in. Soon after, Duane Tortolani arrives and peers through the window into the darkness, looking for his girlfriend. He calls Samantha's phone, but doesn't see it illuminate. He leaves.
Israel Keyes turns his truck around and heads back to the coffee kiosk on East Tudor Road. He misses Tortolani by four minutes. (44) He enters the building and cleans up. Picks up the snipped ends of the zip ties. Grabs her phone. And sends texts to her boyfriend and the owner of Common Grounds, indicating she's had a bad day and will be leaving town for the weekend. And then he removes the battery from the phone, so that it can not be tracked.
|House on Spurr Ln. Shed to right. Photo credit?|
At a little past three in the morning on February second, Keyes drives to Samantha Koenig's home and parks his Silverado several blocks away. He breaks into Duane Tortolani's truck and retrieves the debit card the couple shares. Tortolani, awake and worried about Samantha, sees someone wearing a mask breaking into his vehicle and runs back inside to get James Koenig – Samantha's dad – to help. By the time they come back out of the house, the tall man in the mask is gone. So is the debit card. (45)
Keyes tests the PIN at an ATM. It works. He drives back to his home, walks into the shed where he's left Samantha Koenig, sexually assaults her, and strangles her to death. He then goes inside and packs for the vacation he had planned.
Later that morning, he boards a flight for Houston, Texas (46) where he rents a car and drives to New Orleans to embark on a cruise. He leaves the body in the shed. (47)
The press about the Koenig kidnapping is more than anything he's ever seen for previous crimes. Even the Curriers, which had given him his first taste of publicity. "My entire goal, up until the Currier thing, was to stay under the radar... and not have there be any... I mean, for a lot of the stuff that was before that, I couldn't even find stories on... there wasn't anything." (97)
He hopes that the cruise will mellow him out, but once back to Texas after his cruise, he keeps checking up on the Koenig case. He gets increasingly “amped up” reading about it and decides that he wants to get out and do something in Texas. Preferably, take someone. (97)
So he gets into his rented blue 2011 Kia Soul and he drives through the Dallas/Fort Worth area – specifically, Azle, Aledo, and Cleburne – over the twelfth through the sixteenth. He gets stuck in the mud near Cleburne. (48, 97) "He made a number of statements to us that made us think that he did something Texas. We definitely all had that impression," says SA Goeden. (90)
While driving around west of Dallas, he thinks about committing arson. He thinks about robbing a bank. He thinks about finding an out of the way automatic teller machine and abducting someone from it, taking them to an abandoned house, and strangling them.
While exploring, he finds a one-story red brick house in Aledo, Texas and decides to pass time there while he waits for the banks in town to open. (Author's note: in the interview on April seventeenth, he says it was Alto, which is only thirteen miles south of Wells, where some members of his family live. When I searched online, I could find no records of a structure fire anywhere near Alto in February of 2012. In addition, the description he gives of the house matches that of the house in Aledo that was burned. He mentions in the same interview that he woke up early and left Dallas that morning – which is roughly fifty minutes from Aledo, as opposed to three hours to Alto. In addition, when the FBI requested information from anybody who might have seen Keyes in February around Aledo/Cleburne/Azle, not around Alto/Nacogdoches. He also specified that he looked on google maps at banks around Stephenville, which is much closer to Aledo. I believe he just was mistaken on the town name. Please correct me if I am wrong and you can offer contrary evidence.)
Israel enters the separate workshop near the house through an unsecured door. Inside, he finds a plethora of tools and farming equipment. He also finds canisters of gasoline. He locates a large piece of steel, something he believes is some kind of farming tool, and uses it to pry open the back door into the house. He spends an hour or two in the home, exploring. Digging through things. Israel always stops at abandoned houses when he can. Especially if they have for sale signs. But anything that looks vacant will do. (97)
He piles a number of nice fur coats near the door to grab before he leaves. He steals jewelry. He is looking for guns, though, but the house is a mess. He later describes it as a “hoarder house”, with items packed in and strewn about everywhere. Extension cords cross rooms. He gathers up blankets, sheets, and clothing and begins to make piles of them, all leading to the rear of the house. He climbs into the attic and opens all of the vents. He leaves the access door open. He throws all the windows wide. And then he douses gasoline over the trails of clothing and bedding, all the way to the back door, where he lights it ablaze. He gives the same treatment to the secondary structure, and laughs when he realizes that he has forgotten the fur coats. (97)
The fire is reported at roughly ten in the morning. The 3,000 square house and separate barn go up fast and are a total loss. (91) From the parking lot of a church up the hill, he pulls out binoculars and watches. He "loses track of time" while watching the flames destroy the structure. The fire attracts much more attention than what he wanted- to the point that traffic clogs the streets of Aledo- and he decides to drive the next town over to hit a bank.
|Surveillance image from National Bank of Texas.|
He dons a hardhat, sunglasses and gloves. He smokes a cigar, then pulls on a respirator to cover his face and enters the building. The robbery takes less than two minutes. (49) He walks in and brandishes a two-tone semi-automatic handgun. The same .40 caliber he used in the bank robbery in Tupper Lake. The same one he terrorized the Curriers with. He orders employees to the floor. The bank manager would later tell the media that the robber had been "very controlling", though not violent. (50) Authorities describe the perpetrator as being a white male with dark hair, about six feet tall and 165-170 pounds.
He saunters back to his rental vehicle and drives to a nearby gas station and fills his tank. He blends in with everybody else. He watches the police cars speed by, in the direction of the bank, then gets back into his car and with resolute calmness, drives away.
The cash goes into a bucket, which he buries around the Post Oak Cemetery in Glen Rose, Texas. (48, 97)
It's late now. South of Cleburne. Near Glen Rose. He sits in his vehicle in the parking lot and watches a woman with a large dog walk on a trail near the river. And he almost goes for her. He holds the gun in his hand and thinks about how he'll do it. Shoot the dog. Grab the lady. He thinks about it more, and decides that thinking about it is as far as he'll go that night. He grasps at the last shreds of his self-control, and drives away. (97)
Upon returning to Anchorage on February seventeenth, he finds that the calm which usually comes to him never returns. He has difficulty concentrating. He loses interest in work and day to day life. "Just looking to do something, I was kinda out of control a little bit since the other stuff happened in Alaska," Israel says. (97)
He carries through with his ransom plot, hoping to prolong the rush of adrenaline he's been riding since the murder, the arson, the bank robbery.
A statement released from the FBI reads, "(Keyes) then began preparing a ransom note that demanded money be placed in the account connected with the ATM card. He went into the shed and retrieved Samantha's body, taking steps to make it appear that she was still alive, and took a Polaroid picture of her tied up. The photo also showed Keyes' arm holding the Anchorage Daily News from February thirteenth, 2012. He photocopied the photo and, using a manual typewriter he purchased, typed a ransom demand for $30,000 on the back of the photo.
"After preparing the note and photo, he placed it in the Connor's Bog Park, under a memorial flier of a dog named “Albert”. Then, using Samantha's cell phone, he texted her boyfriend, in substance, that the ransom note was “under Albert” in Connor's Bog Park. The note was recovered by APD." (51)
Keyes texts the directions to Tortolani on the twenty-fourth of February.
Soon after, he dismembers the corpse and stuffs it into bags, then casually puts the bags in the back of his Silverado. He puts his chainsaw in the bed of the truck, too, and drives forty miles north-east of Anchorage, to Matanuska Lake. He goes ice fishing. (25) After he is done, he pushes the bags into the hole in the ice and goes home to his family.
|Keyes' truck. Photo credit: APD.|
On February twenty-ninth, Keyes withdraws ransom money. $500 from an ATM at the Denali Federal Credit Union. The next day he withdraws $500 more, from the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. At this point, 380 officers are taking part in the case. The FBI aids and stakes out every outdoor ATM in the city – nearly fifty locations. (35)
On March sixth, Israel is on the road again, for another previously planned trip.
He flies into Las Vegas. He rents a white Ford Focus from Avis. He drives north on Interstate 15, then heads east on highway 59 outside of St. George, Utah. He continues on to Arizona, with the intention of burying a bucket with the .40 caliber gun he's brought with him from Alaska. He looks for a place somewhere north of the Grand Canyon, but doesn't find anywhere he likes. (96)
In Willcox, Arizona, Israel Keyes makes a withdrawal from Samantha Koenig's account at the Western Bank. The FBI gets notification that the debit card has been used, but not before Israel heads off toward eastbound I-10. The surveillance camera captures an image of his car – and of him, though with his face obscured. Law enforcement studies the image and surmises he is in a 2012 Ford Focus. On March seventh In Lordsburg, New Mexico, he withdraws another $80. On the ninth, $480 is withdrawn from the account, this time in Humble, Texas. (35) (federal indictment) While in town, he walks into the Avis office and requests a change of vehicle.
Police and FBI in Alaska notify authorities in Texas. Ranger Steve Rayburn issues an alert to officers of the law in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. All he is told – and all he knows to advise them – is to be on the lookout for a white 2012 Ford Focus. It's associated with a kidnapping and stolen debit card from Alaska. (35)
Police said that this was a long-held fantasy of Keyes'. To use a debit card while eluding authorities. (8) Good police work could have – and ultimately did – catch him, but it was also a twist of luck: the replacement vehicle Keyes was given in Humble was another white Ford Focus.
On March eleventh, 2012, Israel makes a final withdrawal. $480 at the Peoples State Bank in Shepherd, Texas. He gets back on the road and checks in the Quality Inn in Lufkin. That day, one of his little sisters, Autumnrose, marries a fellow member of the Church of Wells. (52)
While attending the wedding, one of the "Elders" of the Church of Wells specifically and publicly targets Israel and attacks him (after forty-five minutes of preaching, the wedding ceremony, and then more preaching) (53) for being an atheist. Israel refuses to "convert" and, according to "Elder" Jake Gardner, the service ends when Keyes "raged against God". (17)
Gardner (who is neither schooled, nor ordained) claims that Israel "broke down crying" and supposedly tells Gardner that he has to "drink every day to forget these things (he had done)". Gardner also claims that Israel tearfully tells him, "You don't know what I've been through. You don't know what I've done." (53) The veracity of these claims was never confirmed by a second party. Worthy of noting is that a number of individuals have expressed concern that the "Church" is indeed more of a cult. (54) Church of Wells has also been involved in another highly publicized case, where a newborn baby in medical distress was denied treatment, allowed to die, then was continued to be prayed over – for fifteen hours - with the hopes that she would be resurrected. (55) For further reading refer to the "Church of Wells" manifesto.
Around 3:30 on the morning of March thirteenth, Israel goes to the balcony of room 215 (56) and lights a cigarette. He watches a Lufkin police cruiser roll through the parking lot. The officer takes a look at the Ford rental – he knows of the alert issued – and writes down the plate number, but he never calls it in. Israel watches him leave. (35)
Four hours later, Texas Highway Patrol Corporal Bryan Henry passes the Quality Inn and notices Israel's rental car. At 11:30 in the morning, Ranger Rayburn (who issued the alert), an FBI Agent and a Department of Public Safety investigator watch Israel Keyes come out of the hotel, get in the vehicle, and pull onto Highway 59.
|Under arrest. Photo credit?|
Israel Keyes stands calmly outside the car, in a sleeveless shirt and jeans, sunglasses on his face, struggling to remain calm. Forty minutes later, unmarked cars, federal agents, and Texas Rangers swarm the parking lot.
Upon searching his car, they find incriminating evidence. Samantha Koenig's debit card and cell phone (battery still removed). The mask from the ATM footage. Wads of cash. Highlighted maps of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. A gray t-shirt cut to act as a face mask. (56)
He is put under arrest and charged with access device fraud and detained in a Federal facility in Beaumont, Texas. Later he tells investigators that he usually kept his 10/22 close at hand, along with about one hundred rounds, and that "I was never planning on being taken alive." (97)
Back in Anchorage, police wearing body armor and helmets swarm the home on Spurr Lane and execute a search warrant. (59) In the search history on the computer, investigators find media coverage of the Koenig disappearance.
Later that day, a grand jury indicts Israel Keyes. (60)
Anchorage homicide detectives Monique Doll and Jeff Bell rush to Texas. They present Keyes with their evidence.
Detective Doll shows Israel the ransom note. "I told him that the first couple of times that I read the ransom I thought that whoever wrote the note was a monster and the more I read it – it must have been a hundred times – the more I came to understand that monsters aren't born but are created and that this person had a story to tell." (25)
"I can't help you," Keyes tells her.
On Thursday, March fifteenth, 2012 in a hearing that lasts only five minutes, the Federal government outlines their case for access device fraud. Keyes agrees to have his case transferred to the District of Alaska.
The US Marshal service transports him to Alaska (61) and on Monday, March 26th, he arrives in Anchorage. (62)
Faced with mounting evidence, Israel Keyes admits that Samantha Koenig is dead. (35) And he tells another investigator to tell Detective Doll, "... She's got her monster." (25)
Also at some point after being transferred to the Alaska DOC, Keyes is deemed a "suicide risk" and is placed on suicide watch. They issue him a suicide blanket, which is described as being "extremely thick and woven" with the intention of preventing the fabric being used to strangle oneself with. "It's basically a quarter-inch sheet of plywood, but it allows for some warmth," said Bryan Brandenburg, director of institutions with the Alaska DOC. (75) He is later deemed not a suicide risk, despite his numerous allusions toward his willingness to take his own life.
He pleads not guilty of using the stolen debit card on March twenty-seventh. (63)
On March thirtieth, a second search warrant is executed at the house on Spurr Lane. They seize the shed in which Keyes murdered Koenig. (59)
The prosecutors bring him an Americano, a peanut butter Snickers, and a cigar. They show him footage from the surveillance cameras around Common Grounds. And they tell him they will convict him. (34) During the process, investigators observe how excited Keyes gets while discussing the details of Koenig's murder. "His body shook... and he rubbed his muscular arms on the chair rests so vigorously his handcuffs scraped off the wood finish." (34) Prosecutors Kevin Feldis and Frank Russo, along with the FBI and Anchorage police, listen to his confession and know – Samantha Koenig was not the first person whom Israel Keyes had murdered.
On April first, divers recover Samantha Koenig's body in Matanuska lake. (64)
On the sixth of April, investigators advise him that they are searching his computers. And Keyes knows what they will find. He has searched the Currier disappearance on that computer. Feldis tells him, "I've got maps that I know come up with a bunch of other states. Okay? I've got Washington, Texas, Utah, Montana..." Keyes acknowledges. "Like I say, I know what's on that computer. I know what you have."
In interviews, Israel Keyes remains calm and patient, though frustrated at times by the bureaucracy that he and the attorneys must abide by. He is read his Miranda rights once, sometimes twice during each meeting with the prosecutors, detectives, and special agents. "You're gonna have nightmares of me reading these (Miranda rights) to you," Detective Doll quips at one point. "I wouldn't go that far... I don't have nightmares," Israel responds with a laugh.
Later, he tells Mr. Feldis, Mr. Russo, Special Agent Payne, and Detective Doll, "The reason I'm doing this is that I know, I always knew, that I was playing for keeps, and I knew that this was inevitable... what's gonna happen, is gonna happen. I accept that. And I am ready for it. I'm more than ready for it. My issue is how long it's taking. And how long it could take if we don't figure out a way to expedite things." (95)
Mr. Feldis pushes forward, telling Keyes, "Tell me what you want. I don't know what you want."
In a later interview, Feldis asks Keyes why he wants the death penalty. "Because I want this all to be over. I don't want all this other stuff hanging over my head while I sit in Supermax waiting for the next thing to come down the pipe... I have very specific reasons for wanting what I want. As extreme as it might seem to some people, it really is not that extreme to me. Because, just because of my outlook on things. It's a personal opinion that I have of the way things are. And it's not gonna change. And I knew, as soon as I started talking to you, I knew I was never getting out. So I mean, for me, that is the death penalty. Because I'm not... Bubba from the sticks, who's sat in one town for all my life, and I can't be satisfied sitting in prison for all my life. I've been lots of places, I've done lots of things, and sitting in prison for the rest of my life is a death penalty. Same thing. To me. I'd rather go out while I still have some sanity and good memories. That's where I'm coming from." (96)
Feldis explains to him that, while due to the judge's order, they can not discuss the Koenig case with Keyes, that they can discuss prior cases. That they know that there are prior cases. He tells Israel that they might be able to move forward faster with what Keyes wants, if they have other bodies.
"Even if there was only one body, that's bad enough, but then, you know..." Israel laughs. "Me giving you more and more information is... Considering what my ultimate goal is, you have to see it from my perspective, it's really kinda shooting myself in the foot... The more information I give you, the more chance there is that you know, I'm gonna be tied to other things, and then that's gonna make it that much harder for me and the people who know me." (96)
He tells Israel that if they get the names of more victims, that the feds will be able to control the investigations and keep it quiet in the media. That he can plead guilty and that the federal prosecutors would work with him to keep certain aspects of the cases sealed, things that Keyes doesn't want made public.
There is a long pause as Israel Keyes considers this. He thinks about the computer, and the eventuality of being linked to the Curriers, and how that will be out of his control. He thinks about the details he doesn't want to be in the media. He thinks about his family.
"Alright. I can give you. I'll give you..." He sighs. "I'll give you two bodies, and a name. And if you want the rest of the story, I can give you one of the murder weapons. And the rest of the story, you know, everything that happened. But that's all I'll give you today. The two bodies. And a name... If I get a cigar." He chuckles and then tells them what else he'll need. A large computer screen. Google maps. Satellite maps.
"For what region?," investigators ask.
"Burlington, Vermont." (95)
April twelfth and thirteenth, the farmhouse in Essex is excavated. Indications of human decomposition are found in the basement of the former farmhouse, but no bodies or further evidence is ever found. (86)
Keyes is reluctant to speak in depth about his crimes to begin with, out of concern for how it would reflect on his family, in particularly his little girl. “He was very conscious of his daughter Googling him years from now and having to deal with the fallout from this. This is a guy who really cared about his family." says Frank Russo. (7)
He tells investigators, "I'm not in this for the glory. I'm not trying to be on the t.v." (93) When pressed for more details, he tells them, "I'm not a person who's gonna be bullied. And I'm not – at this point, I don't care. There's not anything they can threaten me with, or say to me, or take away from me, or give to me – except for what I want – that's gonna make me do what they want." (93)
"This case is not the end of this," he tells them. (93) Detective Doll inquires if he'd like her to stay on the case, and he responds in the affirmative. The fewer people he has to meet and talk with, the better. “I do not like crowds. I don't do well in court. I don't do well in front of a lot of people. If it's just a few people I can talk to throughout this, depending on how far it goes... then it's gonna go faster. It's gonna go easier... I don't want to talk to people from Quantico. I don't care who's in the other room, I don't care who's recording, I don't care who's listening, but for the face to face stuff..." his voice drifts off. (93)
He does not want his name publicly connected with any other cases, to the point that he threatens to cease speaking with authorities should details be released connecting him to the Curriers. So Vermont authorities keep quiet. For a time, at least. (25) He explains that he doesn't want to give out more details than what he has to, or make things more public than necessary, because "that's just one more thing my kid has to live with when she grows up." (96)
On April twelfth, Feldis informs Keyes that the timeline of a year until execution date is infeasible. An exasperated Israel Keyes responds, "Well, look. If it takes a year, you know, just... If it takes that much paperwork, then the federal government needs to discover email, because there is no way it should take a year, regardless of how many people you have to talk to, or how much paperwork you have to file, it should not take a year... I've built houses in a year."
Keyes asks Feldis, "Hypothetically speaking, someone else is missing... would everybody rather just believe that they're just missing, or think that something horribly terrible happened to them?" Feldis responds, "They're better off knowing." Other investigators pipe up and agree. Israel, though, disagrees. "Ugh, well, I sure wouldn't wanna know that... I'd feel better thinking they were off on a beach somewhere in Mexico, than knowing they were horribly raped and murdered," he laughs. (96)
On April seventeenth a grand jury indicts him on further counts – this time for kidnapping resulting in death, receipt and possession of ransom money, and more counts of fraud with access device. (65)
In an interview that day with authorities, Feldis speaks with Keyes about telling authorities about all of the crimes previous to the Curriers- that the feds will be able to keep things under control, that all the information that he wants (or information will be excluded that he doesn't want) in the plea. They reveal to him that they know he was behind the bank robbery in Azle, Texas, and tell him they could tell, “It's not your first rodeo.” He had the look of a man who knew what he was doing. Detective Bell says, "It's not the old slip a note to one teller get in one drawer..." Keyes laughs and says, "That's a poor man's bank robbery."
|Home Depot bucket in NY. Photo credit: FBI.|
On April twenty-fourth 2012, the bolt and barrel of the gun he brought with him from Alaska to Vermont is recovered by an FBI dive team. (66)
As of April thirtieth, the bodies of the Curriers have still not been found. Israel Keyes is amazed that nobody has discovered the bodies when the farmhouse was demolished, and he tells investigators that when they do find the bodies, that he wants to see pictures. Feldis seems surprised. "Pictures of what?" "The crime scene. Where they find the bodies," Israel responds. "Explain that, so I know what you're talking about," Feldis says. "I want to see pictures. Of what they find," Israel says, his voice low. "Of the bodies?" Feldis sounds incredulous. "Yeah," Israel says. In stark contrast to the peek into the darker corners of his mind, after an uncomfortable silence, he promptly changes the conversation to tell the investigators that they "need to be nicer" to his girlfriend and return the things of hers which they had taken, or else he will cease discussing his crimes with the prosecutors. (Listen here)
On the sixteenth of May, the prosecutors sit down with Israel Keyes and discuss ideas for a plan on how to proceed. He takes it under consideration. When pressed for more details on other victims, he admits to the bank robbery in New York. And then, he tells them that there was a victim from his trip to New York in 2009, as well. Whether the victim was a man or woman, a New York resident, or a person transported to New York, he does not say. He continues to express his concern about being publicly linked to more murders than Samantha Koenig.
He tells them of his concerns of being labeled as a serial killer. "I'm not in this for the glory, I'm not in this for the media attention," he tells them. "My concern isn't for my own reputation, it's for people that I know, like my family and stuff. They've been getting threats from the public. And it's hard for them, because they're all still convinced that I'm innocent... Everybody I've known, to a certain extent, you could say they're my victims, too, because they're gonna have to pay for this for a lot of years to come, so." (99)
The prosecutors continue to push for more information. More names. Any details. Israel seems uncomfortable. "(T)hings I've already done are gonna affect my kid as she's growing up, you know, even when I'm not around any more... I'm just debating whether or not... how much I want attached to my name." Toward the end of the interview he alludes to his future plans, though prosecutors seem to miss the importance of his remark. "As of right now, though, I'm still not guilty. Of anything.” He laughs and continues. "That's an aspect that I have to deal with every day. Do I stay not guilty, or do I wanna be guilty." (99)
A month later, a routine court hearing on whether or not to declare the case "complex" ends when Keyes manages to break the steel chain leg irons and vaults past the four US Marshals positioned around him, over the railing into the spectator section. He is taken down in the second row of seats and wrestled to the ground while the audience screams, one person even shouting, "Kill him! Kill him!" A taser is deployed to subdue him further. During the entire ordeal, Israel Keyes makes no noise. (68) "I've been with the Marshals Service twenty years and I've never seen a set of leg irons broken like that," said supervisory deputy Dave Long. (69) Listen to the audio recording here. Detective Jeff Bell said, "He told us that if he even had a one percent chance, why not go for it." (70)
The following day, in an interview with SA Payne and Jeff Bell, Keyes explains that he feels as though the prosecutors are not being honest with him, judging by the things that they said in the court proceeding. He expresses frustration at the inability to discuss the Koenig case with prosecutors, and to wrap all of the cases into one package, plead guilty, and be done with it. He's been dealing with attorneys, trying to get everybody on the same page as he is. When Payne and Bell express their concern that the escape attempt indicates that Keyes is not being truthful with them, he laughs. "Let's face it. What happened yesterday, one bad guy tried to escape, but, let's be honest. Nobody really thought I was a good guy before that. It's not like being an escapee suddenly makes me untrustworthy. I was kinda untrustworthy before that." (100) He sounds embarrassed talking about the escape attempt, and how he had not planned for it, or thought it through. He was simply reacting to stress. He is still struggling with self-control, months after he is locked up, still in the self-destructive mindset that he was since February.
His plan, he explains at a later date, is to change his plea to guilty as soon as the prosecutors can guarantee him the fastest execution date possible. He plans to tell them everything- but only as soon as he gets what he wants. "I already know how this all ends for me," he tells them.
After the attempt to flee, the Alaskan Department of Corrections imposes enhanced security measures on him. Full restraints, a two-officer escort any time he was removed from his cell, restrictions on possession of razors and pencils, and daily strip and cell searches. "Officers were advised to use extreme caution when dealing with Keyes," according to a DOC press release in February of 2013. (71)
In a meeting with authorities on May twenty-fifth, he discovers that there has not been any progress on securing him any guarantees of execution. His frustration grows. (101)
Three days later, on the twenty-eight of May, he returns to court to continue the proceedings which had been interrupted by his escape attempt. (72)
On the twenty-ninth of May, he continues to express his hesitancy in giving out further information, until he gets something in return beyond coffee and cigars. He continues to worry about how his actions will impact his family. "I don't plan on being around a whole lot longer, but a really big concern to me is, you know, my kid's gonna be around. I don't want her to like, type my name into the computer and have it pop up that like... I already know stuff's gonna come up... I just am trying to minimize that at this point, is what I was hoping to do..." His voice drifts away. He expresses his disinclination to be infamous, saying, "My concern is... the problem is, nowadays, the more stuff my name is attached to, the more likely it is that someone's gonna try to do some kind of stupid frickin' t.v. special. You know how it is nowadays, with all this true crime bullshit that people are obsessed with." (102)
SA Payne points out to Keyes that "(a)t some point in time, your choice may be- the reality could be that- (your daughter) and everybody else knows what you did, based on what you said you did. Or, everybody else including (your daughter) gets to see the fiasco and the media frenzy that is created by law enforcement trying to figure out- speculating what you did." (102)
On June fifth, FBI divers recover Lorraine Currier's .38. (66)
A schedule of pretrial motions as of June eighth is available here.
July twentieth, WCAX breaks the news that Israel Keyes is connected with the disappearance – and murder – of Lorraine and William Currier in Essex, Vermont. (73) Keyes is so upset after being publicly linked to the Curriers that he makes good on his promise to cease speaking with investigators. He remains silent on any further details for two months. (74)
Six days later, Keyes meets with investigators. Russo tells him, "You know. If we wanted to just go ahead and make you a villain, we could do that." Keyes laughs. "I'm already the villain." Russo specifies, "Well, you know, look. You're concerned about the extent to which you're-" Keyes interjects, "Well, there are certain things. Look. From an entertainment perspective, from my perspective, yeah, it would be really fun to have all this stuff come out, but you know. I'm not trying to single-handedly give my mom a heart attack, so." (104)
Later in the interview, when again expressing that he does not want certain details made public, Keyes says, "If certain details of the Koenig case come out, then you know, anything else... then worst case scenario, everything that I’ve done before that is gonna be assumed to be just as bad." Several minutes later, he makes a remark that foretells his ultimate intentions in the bureaucracy can't work the way he'd like it to.
"If things don't go the way I want...", he chuckles, "then I don't need you guys." He laughs again.
|Israel on November 29 2012.|
On October third, Keyes' defense team files a Status Report claiming that the prosecution refuses to provide the defense team with transcripts of his confessions. It is also revealed that the attorneys had not yet been granted travel authorizations permitting them to travel to Alaska and consult with Mr. Keyes. (76)
October twenty-fifth, Anchorage police execute yet another search warrant on the home on Spurr lane (77)- and another search warrant on his nearly ten acres of land in Constable, New York. (78) Ultimately, “nothing of significance” would be found on that land. (79)
And, as decided by the Alaska DOC, on the twenty-eighth of November he is sent to punitive segregation. Checks on his cell are supposed to be done every thirty to forty-five minutes. (5)
According to the Department of Corrections press release, Israel Keyes is last seen alive at 10:13 on the night of December first.
He sits down with a pen, and a pencil, and a legal pad, and he begins to write. He fills two pages, covering both the front and the back. On the first page, he fills in the margin. Toward the end of the note, the pencil wears down to a nub.
When they find the note beneath his body, it's so soaked with blood that they must send it to the FBI offices at Quantico to decipher.
have completely lost sight.
Global overuse, as you over-colonize
little worm, if you bleed your host
Back in your ride, the night is still
young, streetlights push back the black
in neat rows. Off to the right a
graveyard appears, lines of stones, bodies
quick, bob your head to the beat, as
straight through that stop sign you roll,
loaded truck with lights off slams
into you broadside; your flesh smashed
as metal explodes.
You may have been free, you loved living
your lie, fate had its own scheme,
crushed like a bug you still die.
Soon now, you'll join those ranks of dead,
or your ashes the wind will
soon blow. Family and friends will
shed a few tears, pretend its off
to heaven you go. But the reality
is you were just bones and meat,
and with your brain died also your soul.
A nightmare you called a dream while the cultures you despised
attacked countries who didn't provoke, america believed the lie
money was your only scheme, for it you pumped the future dry
now you are the punchline and you were (?) American died
Send the dying to wait for thier (sic) death
in the comfort of retirement homes. Justify,
say “it is for the best,” it's best for you
so their fate you'll not know. Turn a
blind eye back to the screen, soak in
your reality shows. Stand in front
of your mirror and you preen, in
a plastic castle you call home.
Land of the free, land of the lie, land of
scheme, Americanize! Consume what
you don't need, stars you idolize, pursue
what you admit is a dream, then its (sic) american die.
Get in your big car, so you can get
to work fast, on roads made of dinosaur
bones. Punch in on the clock and sit
on your ass, playing stupid ass games
on your phone. Paper on your wall,
computer let's see what you know
vermin you are, once your precious
power grids blown.
Land of the free, land of the lie,
land of the scheme, americanize
Now that I have you held tight
I will tell you a story, speak soft
in your ear so you know that
it's true. You are my love at first
sight, and though you're scared to be near
me, my words penetrate your thoughts
now in an intimate prelude.
I looked in your eyes, they were so dark
warm and trusting, as though you had
not a worry or care. The more guileless
the gaze, the better the potential to fill
up those pools with your fear.
Your face framed in dark curls like
a portrait, the sun shone through
highlights of red, what color,
I wonder, and how straight will
it turn plastered back with the
sweat of your dread.
Your wet lips were a promise of
a secret unspoke (sic), nervous laugh
as it burst like a pulse of blood
from your throat. There will
be no more laughter here
I feel your body tense up, my hand now on your shoulder. Your eyes
looking for a way out of this small
dark room, forget the lady called
luck, she does not abide near me
for her powers don't extend to
those who are deceased.
Precious pet, would that I could keep you
let you be the master of your own fate. What
else, I wonder, would you willingly stoop
to knowing full well what's at
stake. My pretty captive butterfly
colorful wings my hand smears
would I somehow repaint them with
punishment and tears.
Violent metamorphoses, emerge
my dark moth princess, I would come
often and worship on the alter of your
flesh... You(r) shudder grows with re-
vulsion and try to shrink far from
me. I'll have you tied down and
begging to become my stockholm
Okay, talk is over, words are flac(c)id and
weak. Back it with action or it all comes off
cheap. Watch close while I work now, feel the
electric shock of my touch, open my
trembling flower, or your petals I'll crush.
And then he retrieves a small razor, and inserts it into body of the pencil. A razor which Department of Corrections officials later claim that someone had “mistakenly” issued to Keyes. (85) He places the note on his bed, beneath his body. He takes his bed sheet and spins it, ties one end in a noose around his throat and the other around his right ankle, and then he lies on his stomach in bed- a position he usually slept in. His knee bent. Israel pulls a blanket over his body and then he holds the pencil in his right hand, the razor imbedded there to make the flimsy – but lethally sharp – metal more rigid. And then he slices his left wrist, up the vein, into the median artery. His body relaxes as he bleeds out, and his leg extends as he slumps, the noose tightens around his throat. His pulse becomes weak. And then, the sheet begins to strangle him, as his body relaxes. Ultimately, the medical examiner could not tell the primary cause of death- the hypovolemia due to exsanguination, or the strangulation. At some point in the early hours of December second, his consciousness slips away forever. He will never be found guilty in a court of law for the acts of violence he admitted to, and cold cases will likely continue to stay cold. The families of his victims lose the ritual of a trial. His family loses a father, a brother, a son. His loved ones are left to try to make sense out of the complicated mystery that was Israel.
On December tenth, part of the Keyes family holds a funeral in Deer Park, Washington. It is attended by his mother and several sisters. The rest of the family opts to not attend for religious reasons. (80) Israel Keyes is not buried in Deer Park, though – instead, his body is laid to rest later in another part of the state.
December thirteenth, all charges against him are dropped. Prosecutors file a motion that the indictment against him “is abated by his death” by law. Thus, from at least a legal standpoint, Israel Keyes' worst crime was a DUI when he was in his early twenties. (81)
January eighth, it's revealed that Keyes' defense team is still on the case. After the online newspaper Alaska Dispatch files a motion to have all records in the case unsealed, Keyes' lawyers in turn file a motion asking for a delay in the release of any information. They do not explain why they are still engaged in the case. Prosecuting attorney Frank Russo says he does not know why those lawyers are still involved in the case, “something the likes of which he said he'd never seen before.” (82)
January twenty-eighth, Alaskan officials remain silent on the topic of Keyes' suicide and deny a records requests from media sources. In its denial, the state cites "prisoner confidentiality" and "on the ground that the only investigation performed was conducted at the direction of Assistant Attorney General John K. Bodick in anticipation of litigation and is thus protected from release by the attorney-client privilege." (83)
January twenty-ninth, Representative Max Gruenberg asks for additional information on how Israel got his razor blade. (84)
Further information is released by the FBI as they attempt to crowdsource the investigation. (109)
The FBI released information on two more victims, whose locations are either unknown or not yet released by authorities.
One victim is a woman, described as having been "pale", who possibly had a rich grandmother, and who was driving an older-model vehicle. (109)
The second victim is the only other victim of Keyes', aside from Samantha Koenig, whose body has been recovered. In this situation, Keyes staged the scene to look like an accident- and that was how the homicide was ruled- an accident. (109)
The kind of cold wetness that exists on the Washington peninsula is difficult to describe to someone who has never experienced that kind of chilly humidity. It's a damp that seeps in through your skin and leaves flesh clammy, invades the bones and keeps you shivering long after you've come indoors.
I lived part-time in a little place named Seiku, the closest inhabited town just east of Neah Bay. On Sunday, and sometimes Monday nights between 2000 and 2003, I would drive back to the "mainland". It was a few minutes after nine at night. It was autumn and I was nineteen years old. I stopped at the only gas station and filled my tank, trembling in the cold and looking around at the quiet town and surrounding woods. No cars, no people. Well. That wasn't entirely accurate. There was a truck in the parking lot, backed into the spot, and a man sat behind the driver's side. I finished, got my receipt from the machine (the store had long since closed), got in my car and fiddled with my CDs. I pulled out Dummy, by Portishead, turned it up and took off east on 112. I had a tight schedule to keep – the last ferry out of Kingston left at 11:30 pm and I had to make that boat, otherwise I'd have to drive around (which would take an additional two hours). It was a two and a half hour drive from Clallam Bay to Kingston and I knew that if I took 112 all the way (rather than 113 to 101), I could shave a bit of time off. 112 is much more isolated, so I felt okay about speeding on it since there were never, ever any cops. Just locals, and logging trucks that somehow managed to drive faster than me in my little Honda Civic. I nodded along with the music, singing and not thinking much of the truck that got onto the highway behind me. I passed the city limits, drove up the newly regraded hill just before 112 and 113 split, which was illuminated by brand new street lamps. I turned left and drove past the moss-covered abandoned house I'd always meant to stop and explore but never seemed to find the motivation.
The truck behind me accelerated. I saw the lights coming and flipped my rear view so I wouldn't be blinded and then the lights were gone. It took me a moment to realize it was because he was so close to my back bumper that they had been obscured. What the hell did I do to piss this guy off? I wondered. And then I thought, maybe there is something wrong with my car. I thought of the urban legend about the killer in the back seat, and I laughed. He passed me then, and I figured he was just some drunk local. Until he slammed on his brakes in front of me. I hit my brakes hard and came to a stop. He sat, idling. I passed him on the left, cautious and unsure what he was doing. This continued for the next hour – he pulled in front of me, he stopped, I passed. He was persistent. For a number of reasons, I was not frightened. I felt a strange sort of calmness. Each time I passed him, I just shook my head. I felt like I should be afraid, but I wasn't. And then he changed it up. He stopped his truck, and the driver's side door flew open. He stepped out. Jeans and a beanie or a do-rag pulled down over his ears are all I can remember, years later. And he was tall – at the time I guessed about 6'2, maybe 6'3. He was skinny but muscular. He was about my age. And then he started to wave at me. Motioning at me to come here. I drove past him, even though the urge was strong to roll down the window and ask him what he wanted. He didn't seem to be particularly creepy, and he looked normal (even handsome), and I was curious about what was going on. My reason and caution overruled my innate desire to be nice, though, and I rolled on by, only offering a quizzical, apologetic smile to the man. As we approached the junction of 101 and street lamps, houses, and other motorists became frequent, he backed off. He turned across the road, to a pull-out, and headed back to the west. Back toward Neah Bay.
|Highway 113. Photo credit: me.|
Israel Keyes did not pick victims based on who they were. He did not pick them depending on gender, or because they lived high-risk lifestyles. He did not have a "type". He took people in nature, people who were enjoying hikes. Who were fishing, possibly. Or camping. Or visiting cemeteries. Later, he broke into houses to take people. He took them from work, and took them from places where they thought they were safe. He murdered people because it was fun, because he got a thrill out of it, because he wanted the adrenaline rush. He burned houses, and robbed banks, and committed rape, and murdered because he felt like it.
Despite the antisocial acts he perpetrated, though, what I came to read and learn was that he was not a one-dimensional villain. He was a man who loved his family, had close friends, and who gave little to no indications of his "second" life. He split these personas, into two different points of the same line. There was the Israel Keyes who would be written about in the newspapers, who would sit in the interrogation room and tremble with the memory of killing others, and Iz, who was a loving father, and a beloved brother, and a dear friend. To paint him as a caricature of a "bad guy" is to ignore one of the most interesting facets of this much broader saga: the fact that he was a human, nothing more and nothing less.
"I can still picture him giving that weird sideways look and laughing... looking back now, I think that look meant so much more than any of us ever thought." (92)
An enormous and heartfelt thank-you to everybody who has reached out to correct personal information, had kind words for me, or who has wanted to talk and help me to start forming a broader picture of who Israel Keyes, in his totality, was. If you knew Israel and would like to talk with me, please email me at actingatrandom at gmail. I'll keep anything and everything confidential which you request.
Please note that opinions expressed by other parties on programs I have appeared on in the past on do not necessarily reflect my own.
A downloadable file of pdfs is available here. (Updated as of 8/16/13.) Included are the following documents: Affidavit of Steven Payne (3/14/12), Alaska Department of Corrections final statement, Autumn Keyes' testimony, Defense Status Report (10/3/12), FBI statement of the Samantha Koenig abduction, Grand Jury indictment (4/18/12), Pre-trial scheduling (6/8/12), Rule 5 hearing (Beaumont, 3/15/12), and Israel Keyes' suicide note.