Case of suspected serial killer Israel Keyes takes strange turn

12/04/2012 3:46 AM

12/04/2012 4:07 AM

The bizarre story of suspected serial killer Israel Keyes took new twists Monday when the FBI revealed that he traveled all over the country and buried caches of weapons and other items for use in future crimes, including two caches -- one in Eagle River -- that the FBI was able to recover.

The FBI said that Keyes, 34, would fly to a city, rent a car and drive hundreds if not thousands of miles away -- sometimes to kill. He robbed banks, and used the money he made as a general contractor, to pay for his excursions, the FBI said. He traveled extensively from October 2004 until his arrest in Texas in March, according to a timeline released by the FBI.

Keyes, who state troopers say appears to have killed himself in his Anchorage jail cell Sunday morning, confessed to killing three people -- Samantha Koenig of Anchorage and William and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt. -- in cases confirmed by authorities. He admitted to five additional killings and suggested there were others, authorities said. He was an Army veteran and a self-employed carpenter.

The Eagle River cache and another near the Blake Falls Reservoir, a popular fishing spot in New York, contained weapons and items used to get rid of bodies, the FBI said in a written statement, without giving specifics.

"Keyes indicated the other caches he buried throughout the U.S. contain weapons, money, and items used to dispose of victims," the FBI said.

In a series of interviews spanning dozens of hours over the nearly nine months since his March arrest, Keyes revealed only bits of information at a time and never told the names of the others he killed, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and Anchorage police.

Those suspected additional deaths include a couple from Washington state killed between 2001 and 2005, two unrelated people from Washington state killed sometime in 2005 and 2006, and an individual whose body was disposed of in New York state, the FBI said Monday. According to Keyes' statements, that person was abducted from a nearby state in 2009 and taken to New York, the FBI said.

"And that's part of why he was able to go undetected for so long, is the way he traveled and moved around and was able to plan what he was doing and plan how he was going to depart undetected," said Kevin Feldis, the chief criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage. "He traveled great distances to places where he didn't live."

He would remove the battery from his cellphone and switch from credit cards to cash to avoid tracking, Feldis said. "He was so methodical as to go dark."

When pressed, Keyes said he killed more than those eight, Feldis said. Investigators were in the process of drawing out more information and had planned to interview him again this week, trying to learn about every victim, Feldis said. Nothing that Keyes said made officials think he was boasting or lying about the number he killed, Feldis said.

His apparent suicide is devastating to the investigation, authorities have said.

QUESTION OF A SUICIDE NOTE

The state Department of Corrections said Monday that its procedure calls for inmates to be checked every 30 minutes, but officials wouldn't say when Keyes was last checked. Alaska State Troopers, who investigate deaths in prisons, were alerted of the death around 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Troopers are awaiting autopsy results to disclose information on how he died, spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

The Department of Corrections also wouldn't say whether Keyes left a suicide note, whether he was on suicide watch or what his security classification was. Those questions all are part of the ongoing investigation into his death, said Kaci Schroeder, a special assistant to corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt. He was in meetings all day about Keyes' death, Schroeder said. He didn't respond to a request for an interview to explain how this could have happened.

Feldis also declined to address whether there was a suicide note but said that everything in Keyes' jail cell is being examined.

Keyes looked for victims in remote locations: parks, campgrounds, trail heads, cemeteries and boating areas. Before the Curriers of Vermont failed to show up for work on June 9, 2011, the disappearances of the people he killed didn't get much coverage, he told investigators, according to the FBI. But Koenig's disappearance sparked a massive search and generated numerous news stories.

Her body was pulled out of Matanuska Lake in April, but investigators haven't found any others. Keyes told investigators the body of one other victim was recovered, but the death was ruled an accident. Investigators don't know who that person is or where that crime occurred, the FBI said.

He told investigators he killed his first victim soon after being discharged from the Army, perhaps in 2001. It's not known whether that person is among the eight, Feldis said.

On a website for his construction business, Keyes said he served in the Army from 1998 to 2000 and was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington state, at Fort Hood in Texas and in Egypt. He lived in Washington state from 2001 to March 2007, then moved to Alaska.

TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE

The FBI's broad timeline released Monday outlines 35 trips from October 2004 through March that it pieced together from travel and financial records. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said that the FBI hopes the timeline will elicit leads. The FBI asks anyone with information about Keyes to contact the bureau at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The trips mainly are listed by geographic region since Keyes traveled so far by car, the FBI said. The timeline begins Oct. 5, 2004, with an 11-day trip to the eastern United States. In April 2005, he was in Washington state and British Columbia. In May 2006, he headed to the West. That September, he spent six days in Alaska, then in October he was in the West and Mexico, then that November back in Alaska.

And so it went for Keyes, year after year, trip after trip. From March 1 through March 9, 2007, he was in Washington state and Canada, and drove to Alaska. From Jan. 28 to Feb. 15, 2008, he was traveling in the southern and western parts of the country. In December 2008, he spent two days in Hawaii then 14 days in Mexico.

The only eastern trip in 2009, when he said he dumped a body in New York, was from April 1 to 14, and that trip spanned both the eastern and western United States, according to the FBI timeline.

He fled Alaska Feb. 2, the day after he abducted Koenig from a Midtown coffee stand and killed her sometime that night, the FBI said.

Keyes targeted Common Grounds Espresso in particular because it was open late, Feldis said. He went there looking for someone to kill and found 18-year-old Koenig, the prosecutor said.

He was in the South until Feb. 18. He returned to Alaska for a while but by March 6 was back in the South and Southwest. He was arrested March 13 in Texas after a highway patrol officer spotted his rental car. It had shown up in ATM photos when he used Koenig's debit card while on the run, authorities have said.

Keyes talked to investigators in part because he felt he was in control of the story that way, Feldis said. He knew authorities were holding off on charging him for the Curriers' deaths as long he kept talking, the prosecutor said.

The FBI also released a 30-second audio recording from one of the interviews with Keyes.

"There is no one who knows me or who has ever known me who knows anything about me, really," Keyes said on the recording. "They are going to tell you something that does not line up with anything I tell you because I'm two different people, basically. And the only person who knows about what I'm telling you, the kind of things I'm telling you, is me."

How long had he been two people? an investigator asked.

Keyes laughed. "Long time. 14 years."

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com

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