ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A security video showing the abduction of an Alaska barista is unnerving on its own, but it only hints at the horror ahead for the 18-year-old woman.
Samantha Koenig would soon be sexually assaulted and strangled after she was kidnapped from an Anchorage coffee stand, her body left in a shed for two weeks while her killer went on a cruise. After he returned, Israel Keyes photographed Koenig for a ransom note and then dismembered her body.
Those details were released by the FBI on Tuesday, two days after Keyes was found dead in his Anchorage jail cell in an apparent suicide. It’s the most comprehensive account yet of a crime at the hands of a man who confessed to the slaying and told authorities he killed at least seven other people across the country over the past decade.
“These details are being provided both to fully explain the courage and resolve Samantha displayed in the final hours of her life, as well as in the hopes that the release of additional details will help investigations of other murders committed by Israel Keyes,” the FBI said in a statement.
Once home from his trip, Keyes posed Koenig’s body to make it appear she was still alive and took a Polaroid photo of her tied up, along with a newspaper dated Feb. 13 — 12 days after the abduction from a coffee stand, according to the FBI. Keyes later typed a ransom note demanding $30,000 from Koenig’s family on the back of a photocopy of the photo and sent a text message to the woman’s boyfriend on her cellphone with directions where he’d left the note at a local dog park.
Keyes dismembered Koenig’s body and disposed of the remains in a frozen lake north of Anchorage after he cut a hole in the ice with a chain saw, authorities said.
Keyes, 34, was arrested in March in Texas, after using Koenig’s stolen debit card at ATMs there and in Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico. He was facing a March trial in Koenig’s death.
After his arrest, Keyes confessed to killing Koenig and at least seven other people. His other known victims were Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., who disappeared in June 2011. Keyes told authorities he also sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine Currier.
The couple’s bodies have not been found.
Keyes did not identify the other victims or say where their remains were, other than that four were killed in Washington state and one was killed on the East Coast with the body disposed of in New York. Keyes had lived in Washington state and had property in upstate New York.
He told one of the lead FBI investigators in the case that his first victim was a teenage girl in Oregon that he sexually assaulted but did not kill, the Anchorage Daily News reported. FBI special agent Jolene Goeden told the newspaper that Keyes admitted that he was a teen at the time and that “he had the intention, he said, of killing her but but did not. And he did let her go.”
Also Tuesday, authorities released video footage of Keyes abducting Koenig, caught by a surveillance camera. Another video sequence shows him returning for Koenig’s cellphone late that night, leaving Koenig bound in his truck, followed four minutes later by a man identified by the FBI as Koenig’s boyfriend, who was looking for her. Keyes would use the cellphone to send text messages to the boyfriend and coffee stand owner that purported to be from Koenig saying she had a bad day and was leaving town for the weekend.
In the first video sequence, Keyes walks up to the small coffee stand and orders an Americano coffee, which Koenig makes. He then pulls out a gun and Koenig is then seen putting her hands up several times. At some point, Keyes makes her turn off the light. The light switch was close to a panic button, but Koenig never pushed it, probably because she was too afraid, police said.
Keyes then climbs into the kiosk and, police said, used zip ties to bind Koenig’s hands behind her back before leading her out. He told Koenig he would let her go if her family paid a ransom, but that was never his intention, police said.
“He knew all along he was going to kill her,” Anchorage homicide Detective Monique Doll said.
Police said Keyes removed the battery from Koenig’s cellphone to avoid being tracked.
Koenig’s body was recovered from the lake in April after Keyes told authorities of its location.
Another video shows a man identified as Keyes getting out of a white pickup truck parked in a nearby parking lot just before the abduction took place, and returning with another person police said was Koenig. The FBI said Koenig broke away at some point and Keyes chased her, tackled her to the ground, and pointed his gun at her, saying she should not do anything to make him kill her.
Police said a license plate, green toolboxes and a ladder rack had been removed from the truck before the abduction, then reinstalled afterward so Keyes could disguise the vehicle.
In the police investigation, the vehicle appeared twice in a list of 750 local white trucks of the same kind, but police scratched it off the list of possibilities because it looked so different.
Authorities said Keyes traveled extensively in the U.S., landing at one location and targeting victims randomly hundreds of miles away. He had never seen Koenig before, but chose the coffee stand because of its location and because it stayed open later than other stands
Keyes told authorities he robbed several banks and used money he made as a general contractor to pay for his travel.
In the Koenig case, he stuck to his own town.
“He broke his own rule,” Doll said.
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