A man charged in the murder of an Alaska barista has been linked to seven other murders in three other states. The man, Israel Keyes, was found dead in his jail cell on Sunday, hours before authorities announced the new link.
Keyes, 34, died of an apparent suicide on Sunday, according to US Attorney Karen Loeffler in a quickly prepared news conference that included Anchorage police and the FBI, reports Yahoo! News. Keyes was to appear at trial in March over the murder of Samantha Kenig, 18, who was abducted from a coffee kiosk in February. The man was arrested in connection with the kidnapping when he used the victim’s debit card.
Keyes confessed to killing not only Koenig, but also Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vermont, though their bodies were never found. They were last seen leaving their jobs on June of 2011 and were reported missing on the 9th by their co-workers. Authorities have said that Keyes also killed four people in Washington state and one person in New York state, though he never told them his victims’ names.
The FBI believes that Israel Keyes killed Koenig less than a day after she disappeared. Her body was discovered on April 2 in an ice-covered lake north of Anchorage. The kidnapping of the 18-year-old victim plunged the city into suspense for weeks after footage from a security camera showed a possibly armed man escorting Koenig away from the coffee stand.
The girl’s relatives and friends established a reward fund and spread the word about her disappearance in the hopes of finding her alive. The Boston Globe notes that the suspect stole Koenig’s debit card from a car she shared and scratched the PIN into it. He then killed the barista and used her phone to send text messages concealing the abduction.
He flew to Texas and returned to Alaska on February 17th where he sent a text message that demanded a ransom, directing that the money be sent to an account connected with the stolen debit card. He then made withdrawals from ATM machines in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He was arrested in Texas and charged with kidnapping Koenig.
Keyes took to the grave the locations of all of his victims, save Koenig, as well as any other possible crimes he committed. Authorities believe they may never discover the true range of Israel Keyes’ crimes. Authorities have not released any information about Keyes, death, aside from noting the likely suicide and that he was alone in his cell at the time.