|“||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.||”|
Israel Keyes was a serial killer, serial rapist, serial arsonist, bank robber, and abductor who was active in several U.S. states, including Alaska.
"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. ...So that's when I just started being a lon[er], 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."
Keyes was born on January 7, 1978, in Richmond, Utah, as the second child of John Jeffrey Keyes, a maintenance man, and Heidi Hakansson, a third-generation American with Swedish ancestors. He had an older sister, four younger sisters, and three younger brothers. Soon after his birth, the Keyes family moved to an area in Stevens County, Washington, called Aladdin Road, where John Keyes purchased land just north of Colville. There, he was raised in a Mormon environment, in which he was homeschooled, but Keyes also occasionally attended a Christian Identity church, which espoused white supremacist beliefs. Keyes would later tell friends, neighbors, and coworkers that he was raised Amish. Also in Aladdin Road, the family became neighbors and friends with future white supremacist and family annihilator Chevie Kehoe and his brother Cheyne. During his childhood years, Keyes would walk around with a pistol everywhere he went, and at the age of fourteen, his grandfather gave him a .38-caliber revolver, which he outfitted with his first homemade silencer. He and a friend also had a habit of breaking into houses and burglarizing them. Keyes also began killing pet animals. Between 1995 and 1997, he started working in a seven-man crew for a construction company, doing custom work for customers with needs beyond construction. Later in the 1990s, the family moved to Smyrna, Maine, where they became involved in the maple syrup business. It is there that he rejected his parents' faith and openly declared himself as an atheist; as a result, he was kicked out of the house.
Sometime between 1996 and 1998, Keyes committed his first actual crime, abducting a teenage girl from a hiking group along the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon, and raping her, but releasing her afterwards. Later, in 1998, he went to New Jersey and enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a Specialist in the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry. He was stationed at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington, and Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, and was trained in Sinai, Egypt. During his service, Keyes received an Army Achievement Medal for "meritorious service while assigned as a gunner and assistant gunner from the second of December 1998 to the eighth of July, 2001 in the Alpha Company 60mm mortar section." On May of 2001, he received a DUI charge in Thurston County, Washington, followed by a state charge for driving with a suspended license. Later that year, he was honorably discharged from the Army. Keyes allegedly took advantage of this discharge to murder his first victims, an unidentified couple, according to his confessions. He then moved to the small town of Neah Bay, Washington, where he established a village market for the nearby Makah tribe. Keyes also began dating an unidentified woman, whom he would have a daughter with. On November 13, 2002, his father passed away, and Keyes attended the funeral. Later that year, he separated with his girlfriend, who took their daughter with her. In the first few months of 2006, Keyes began taking part in marathons. Between that year and last year, he had allegedly claimed two more victims. It is at this point that he began making numerous travels for unspecified reasons. In 2007, Keyes opened a new business, called Keyes Construction, which was extremely reliable.
Known Murders and Crimes
"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. ...So you don't really have to do anything as crazy as shooting out their tires, but... that was one 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."
In 2009, after making travels to California, Washington, and New England, Keyes decided to rob a bank in order to fund his crimes. On April 10, allegedly after abducting and murdering a man, he walked into the Community Bank in Tupper Lake, New York, donning sunglasses, a jacket, jeans, gray sneakers, two-tone gloves, and a fake mustache and goatee, and armed with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol (he was also equipped with a .22-caliber 10/22 Ruger Charger pistol). Successfully robbing the bank, Keyes fled and buried a toolbox about a half-mile down a path in the Woodside Natural Area in Essex, Vermont; the toolbox contained desiccant, the Smith & Wesson, and the Ruger Charger. Four days later, he returned home by airplane. He then spent the next two years repeatedly traveling through the country for a variety of undisclosed reasons. At the time between April and May 2011, he constructed a homemade silencer for the Ruger Charger pistol, and decides to test it out during his next crime. After flying to Indiana and then driving over to New York to attach and test his silencer, Keyes drove to Vermont, where he recovered the toolbox he buried earlier, to which he decided to randomly target and murder someone before going on a bank-robbing and arson spree. After selecting a location to take a victim (an abandoned farmhouse in Essex), Keyes readied his weapons and began inspecting motorists from the safety of nearby woods. Initially targeting a motorist driving a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, Keyes found the plan impractical and switched his focus to a couple instead. Wandering around the suburban neighborhoods on the late hours of July 8, 2011, he set his sights on 8 Colbert Street, occupied by the Curriers, Bill and Lorraine; the home was less than a half-mile away from the Handy Suites hotel he was staying at.
First inspecting the house and deducing the room the couple was sleeping at, Keyes disabled the phone line first before breaking inside. In what was described as a "blitz attack", he ambushed the Curriers as they slept, subduing and tying them up before taking Lorraine's Smith & Wesson snub-nosed .38 revolver, among other items. Keyes then abducted the couple and took them to the abandoned Essex farmhouse, where he attempted to contact someone through their cell phones, only to abandon the plan after finding that the phones didn't have texting capabilities. As he took Bill to the basement, Lorraine attempted to escape, only to be recaptured by him. Bill also tries to escape, but Keyes incapacitates him and, in a fit of rage at the loss of control over his scheme, shoots him to death with the silenced 10/22 Ruger Charger. He then sexually assaulted Lorraine, strangled her into unconsciousness, took her to the basement, and strangled her again, this time fatally. Keyes then buried the bodies of the Curriers in debris and left them in the farmhouse basement, intending to return later to burn down the farmhouse. His plan to go on a bank-robbing spree soon proved to be impractical when the Curriers' car experienced some "serious mechanical issues", and he abandoned it the next day in the parking lot of an apartment complex at 203 Pearl Street. During his trip back home, he went into the White National Monument Forest in New Hampshire and disposed of the items that he took from the Curriers in a suitcase that he set ablaze; he then abandoned his tools and the Curriers' revolver in New York before returning home in Anchorage. Unbeknownst to him, from October 25 to October 27, the farmhouse was demolished, and the debris (including bags that contained the Curriers' corpses) was transported to a local landfill. In October or November of the same year, he purchased a police scanner.
On February 1, 2012, Keyes decided to kill again, driving around aimlessly through Anchorage in search of a potential victim. Setting his sights on an 18-year-old barista named Samantha Koenig, he approached her coffee kiosk, held her at gunpoint, and demanded the money from the register. After his demands were met, he tied her up and waited for her boyfriend, Duane Tortolani, intending to abduct him too, but changed his mind and dragged Koenig outside. She attempted to escape, but he quickly recaptures her, forces her into his truck, and keeps her captive in his home. The next day, Keyes went to Koenig's home, broke into Tortolani's truck, and stole the debit card he shared with Koenig, but Tortolani and Koenig's father James witness him commit the act. After successfully testing out the debit card, Keyes returned home and murdered Koenig, leaving her body in a shed on his property. He then traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, to embark on a ship cruise. Upon returning from the cruise, Keyes, increasingly worried by the large amount of publicity brought by Koenig's abduction, decided to commit a crime spree. Exploring around the west of Dallas, Texas, he encountered a 3,500 sq. ft., one-story, red-brick house in Aledo on February 16, which he robbed before burning it and a nearby barn down. He then drove to the nearby town of Azle, where he, donned with a hardhat, sunglasses, gloves, and a breathing mask, robbed the National Bank of Texas within two minutes before escaping; he later buried the money around the Post Oak Cemetery in Glen Rose. South of Cleburne, he tries to abduct a woman walking a dog, but he quickly abandons the plan. Returning to Anchorage, Keyes enacts a ransom plan for Koenig, whose death was still not known to authorities. Texting a ransom note and directions to Duane Tortolani, he recovered and dismembered Koenig's corpse with a chainsaw, disposing the body parts in Matanuska Lake.
Capture, Incarceration, and Suicide
"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... [W]hat'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."
On February 29, he began withdrawing the ransom money. Starting on March 6, he began making withdrawals from Koenig's account, alerting the Alaskan authorities and the FBI who were investigating the case. They notified Texan authorities to alert officers in the state, as well as Louisiana and Arkansas, to be on a lookout for a 2012 Ford Focus, the rental car Keyes was currently using (ironically enough, Keyes obtained a replacement vehicle in the form of another 2012 Ford Focus, an occurrence that would lead to his capture). On March 11, one of Keyes' younger sisters, Autumnrose, married a member of the Church of Wells. Keyes attended the wedding ceremony, and he was verbally attacked by a Church of Wells "Elder" for being an atheist. This sparked an argument, which ended the ceremony when Keyes began "rag[ing] against God". On March 13, Texas Highway Patrol Corporal Bryan Henry noticed Keyes' Ford Focus, alerted authorities, and followed it onto Highway 59. Noticing that the car was speeding, Henry pulled it over alongside the road, to which many unmarked vehicles, federal agents, and Texas Rangers surrounded it. Searching Keyes' car, they found Koenig's debit card and phone, with the battery removed; a ski-mask; a gun; cash taken from the National Bank of Texas; and highlighted maps of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Keyes was subsequently arrested, charged with access device fraud, and indicted in a Beaumont, Texas federal facility.
On March 26, Keyes was taken back to Anchorage, where he confessed to murdering Koenig, whose body would later be discovered on April 1. During interviews, Keyes was shown to be calm and patient, yet frustrated at the rules he and his attorneys were told to abide. He willingly gave terms to confess to any crimes he committed and plead guilty to all of the charges brought against him, as long as he was executed and the trial took less than a year. Investigators later struck a deal with him about finding the bodies of any potential prior victims in exchange for the media not knowing any details Keyes didn't want to make public. As a result, authorities found and excavated the farmhouse where Keyes left the Curriers' corpses at, only finding indications of human decomposition. Not wanting his name to be released to the media, he threatened to stop speaking to investigators. On June, a routine court hearing debating on calling the case "complex" turned violent when Keyes managed to escape and tried to attack spectators, presumably in a suicide attempt. He was subdued with a taser and taken back into custody. The following day, he stressed his perception of dishonesty from the prosecutors, and that the escape attempt was unplanned and merely a reaction to stress. Because of the escape attempt, security measures were increased on him, which included full restraints, a two-officer escort every time he left his cell, restrictions on razor and pencil possession, and daily strip and cell searches. On July 20, WCAX broke the story on Keyes' connection to the disappearances of the Curriers; as a result, Keyes refused to speak to investigators for a two-month period. On December 2, Keyes wrote a two-page (front-and-back) suicide note before slashing his wrist with a razor mistakenly issued to him and also hanging himself. Because of the odd method he employed in his suicide, the medical examiner was unable to tell the primary cause of death.
On August 12, 2013, federal authorities released new information on Keyes, revealing that they suspect him to have a final death toll of eleven victims, all killed from 2001 to 2012, and that there are possibly other victims in Canada (where he sought out prostitutes) and other countries. Additionally, he was confirmed to have also burglarized 20 to 30 homes and robbed several other banks in addition to the Community Bank and National Bank of Texas robberies.
"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."
Whenever he killed, Keyes targeted random victims, all of whom lived extremely far from his home, and never hit the same area twice. In all instances, he planned his murders long beforehand and took many measures to avoid detection. When he killed the Curriers, Keyes struck Bill Currier with a shovel, then shot him with a .22-caliber 10/22 Ruger Charger pistol outfitted with a homemade silencer, and then he raped Lorraine Currier, strangling her to death afterward. When he killed Samantha Koenig, he also raped her and strangled her to death, but afterward, he dismembered her body. During the Aledo, Texas arson fires, he used gasoline as the accelerant. When he robbed the Community Bank in Tupper Lake and later the National Bank of Texas in Azle, he used a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol to threaten and intimidate employees and customers; he would use that same gun to terrorize the Curriers. According to interviews with the FBI, Keyes strangled all of his victims, with the exception of Bill Currier (who was shot) and one victim in Washington (who was killed by blunt-force trauma).
- 2011, Essex, Vermont:
- April or May, Anchorage, Alaska: Attempted to shoot the following:
- An unnamed couple
- Unnamed police officer
- June 7: Unnamed male motorist (intended to kill, but abandoned the plan)
- June 8-9: The Curriers (both tied up, abducted and killed; their bodies were not found)
- Bill Currier, 50 (struck with a shovel, then fatally shot repeatedly with a silenced handgun)
- Lorraine Currier, 55 (raped, then fatally strangled)
- April or May, Anchorage, Alaska: Attempted to shoot the following:
- February 1-2, Anchorage, Alaska: Samantha Koenig, 18 (raped, fatally strangled and dismembered post-mortem)
- February 16, south of Cleburne, Texas: Unnamed woman (intended to abduct and kill, but abandoned the plan)
- Unspecified locations in Washington:
- Unspecified date in 2001: An unnamed couple
- Unspecified dates in 2005 to 2006: Two unnamed victims (both killed separately; one was allegedly dumped in Crescent Lake)
- Unspecified date in July 2001, Leah Bay, Washington: Unnamed victim
- April 8, Hackensack, New Jersey: Debra J. Feldman
- April 9, unspecified location in New York: Unnamed girl or woman
- Unspecified date in 2012, likely in Texas: Unnamed victim (believed to have been murdered sometime after Samantha Koenig's murder)
- Note: Keyes is also suspected of killing another person in the U.S., and also possibly other victims in Canada and/or other countries.
- Unspecified date in 1996 to 1998, near Maupin, Oregon: Unnamed girl, 14-16 (raped, but not killed)
- April 10, 2009, Tupper Lake, New York: A victimless robbery at the Community Bank (about $10,000 was stolen)
- The February 16, 2012 crime spree in Texas:
- Aledo: Two victimless arsons targeting a 3,500 sq. ft. house and a barn
- Azle: A victimless bank robbery at the National Bank of Texas (an unspecified amount of money was stolen)
- Note: Keyes was also responsible for the deaths of several cats and dogs, 20 to 30 home invasions and burglaries, and several other bank robberies.
- Keyes bears some similarities to Ted Bundy, a serial killer whom he admired, in the sense that both were heavy drinkers, methodical, intelligent, felt some sort of "possession" over the victims, and operated in multiple U.S. states.
On Criminal Minds
- Season Eight
- Season Thirteen
- Season Fourteen
- "Night Lights" - Keyes was referenced again.
- Season Fifteen
- Wikipedia's article on Keyes
- An online biography and study of Keyes
- Alaska Dispatch article detailing the Currier murders
- Google Maps listing of locations connected to the Currier murders
- Weatherford Democrat article detailing the Aledo, Texas arsons
- Anchorage Daily News online articles:
- Missing persons report on Debra Feldman
- The New York Times online article
- The Associated Press online article
- KTUU online article
- WCAX online article detailing Keyes' confession to the Currier murders
- CBS News article on interviews with Keyes
- Month further unspecified
- This estimate was according to allegations made by Keyes, so it is unknown if this can be positively verified