Before his arrest in 2012, it was believed that American serial murderer Israel Keyes killed at least 11 people in his spree of violence.
Who Was Israel Keyes?
Israel Keyes was an American serial killer who traveled to various areas and chose victims based on the circumstances surrounding their deaths rather than targeting a specific victim profile. He committed his criminal activities by robbing banks and burglarizing residences to finance them. In March 2012, he was taken into custody. Even though just three of his victims have been positively identified, Keyes claimed to police that he had killed “less than a dozen” people while in detention. Since he committed suicide in December 2012, law enforcement has been left with more questions than answers regarding his crimes.
On January 7th, 1978, Keyes was born in Cove, Utah. Heidi and John Jeffrey Keyes, a couple who did not believe in meddling from the government, public schools, or modern medicine, are the parents of ten children, and he is the second of their children to be born. When Keyes was a young child, his family uprooted from Utah and relocated to Colville, Washington. They lived a secluded life in the woods, and during that time, Keyes spent his childhood without access to either heat or electricity.
While living in Washington, the Keyes family disaffiliated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, converted to a fundamentalist form of Christianity, and began attending a white supremacist congregation. In the late 1990s, the family moved to Maupin, located in Oregon. After that, they uprooted their lives and relocated to a location in Maine, not far from an Amish neighborhood.
As a child, Keyes would go into his neighbors’ homes to steal guns, have a passion for hunting, go for “anything with a heartbeat,” and torment animals, all of which are behaviors associated with psychopathy. While Keyes was held in custody, he stated, “I’ve known since I was 14 that… there were things that — that I thought were normal and that were OK, that nobody else seemed to think were normal and that were OK.” Keyes said this while he was being held in custody.
Keyes’s father severed links with the family after the adolescent told them he no longer adhered to their religion; however, he maintained a close relationship with Keyes’s mother.
In July 1998, Keyes enlisted in the United States armed forces. As a soldier, he served with distinction, seeing service in Egypt, Texas, and Washington, where he was stationed at Fort Lewis. After receiving an honorable discharge from the military in July 2001, he moved in with his daughter’s mother and resided on the Makah Reservation.
While Keyes was serving in the army, he was given a DUI, but before that, he had no further run-ins with the law.
Methods of Murder
Keyes preyed on victims who occurred to cross his way in his career as a serial killer rather than adhering to a certain profile of the victim. He would frequently wait to confront people in public settings such as parks, cemeteries, or campers where he knew they would be. “When questioned by law enforcement about his tactics, he admitted that there was “not as much to select from, in the way of speaking; nevertheless, there is also no witness, truly.” There is not nobody else in the area.”
Along with killing, Keyes also traveled. In 2011, he took a flight to Chicago and then drove to Vermont, where he was responsible for the murders of Bill and Lorraine Currier. Because he had a history of trips throughout the United States that covered a significant amount of land, we might infer that he had many opportunities to look for victims. It’s possible that Keyes’ murdering spree was influenced in some way by his travels overseas, specifically to countries like Canada, Mexico, and Belize. Keyes would pay for things with cash while he was on the road and remove the batteries from his cell phone so that he wouldn’t be followed as easily.
The serial killings committed by Keyes included meticulous planning. He traveled throughout the United States to bury hidden stockpiles of murder equipment, including firearms, ammo, and chemicals that could decompose victims. When Keyes needed to kill, he would go digging for a stockpile.
Keyes became knowledgeable about serial killers like Ted Bundy through his research into the work of FBI profilers. In her book about Keyes, American Predator, published in 2019, Maureen Callahan mentioned that he had a gastric band implanted in his stomach and that he had gone to a plastic surgery clinic in Mexico. She hypothesized that Keyes was attempting to improve his killing skills by wearing a lap band, which would prevent him from feeling hungry as frequently, and altering his fingerprints or shaving his body hair to reduce the likelihood of leaving evidence behind.
Before killing her, Keyes stole Samantha Koenig’s cell phone, ATM card, and PIN. After taking the time to go on a trip, Keyes acted out a scenario in which he demanded a ransom with the body of Koenig. Her relatives sent a financial contribution to Koenig’s account in the hopes that she was still alive.
Keyes withdrew money from an ATM using Koenig’s card in Alaska and continued using it to make withdrawals while traveling through New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. He attempted to conceal his identity, but a security camera in Arizona captured an image of the rented car he was driving. Keyes was apprehended in March of 2012 after Texas law enforcement was tipped off about his activities. A search of his vehicle turned up several damning materials, including Koenig’s driver’s license.
Keyes traveled to Texas to visit his mother and his siblings (his father had passed away many years ago), and it was at this time that he was apprehended. During this visit, a sister attempted to get him to reevaluate his position as an atheist. According to statements made by a present preacher, Keyes said, “You have no idea how far into the abyss I’ve sunk in self-destructive behavior. You have no idea what I’ve been up to.”
After being taken into custody, Keyes was ultimately transported to Alaska. After being shown the evidence that linked him to Koenig’s disappearance, he admitted his guilt and was arrested for the crime. However, he explained to law enforcement that he had been feeling out of control and mentioned, “Back when I was smart, I would let them come to me.” The killing went against his typical pattern of careful planning and preparation.
According to Keyes, the first attack he planned and carried out took place in the state of Oregon in either 1997 or 1998. He kidnapped a teen girl and then raped and sexually assaulted her. He had every intention of killing her, but she persuaded him to let her go. Keyes informed the detectives of the crime, “I wasn’t violent enough.” “I vowed to myself that I would never allow something like that again.”
Keyes was quoted as saying that he had killed “less than a dozen.” While he was incarcerated, he drew 12 skulls using his blood. These skulls may represent 11 of Keyes’ victims as well as himself. In 2020, an FBI agent stated to the news publication 48 Hours that “we believe that 11 is the entire number of victims.” But authorities have only been able to identify three of Keyes’ victims thus far positively.
Koenig, a barista from Anchorage, was kidnapped by Keyes on February 1, 2012, and she is the only victim whose identity is known. Within the span of a few hours, Keyes raped and murdered her. Several weeks later, he dissected her body and dumped the pieces into a lake north of Anchorage. In April 2012, Koenig’s remains were located and brought back. In addition, Keyes admitted to being responsible for the deaths of the Curriers in Essex, Vermont, in June of 2011. The couple was chosen randomly because they satisfied all of Keyes’ requirements, including not having any children, not owning a dog, and living in a house with an attached garage. After breaking into their house, he overpowered them and took them to an abandoned farm. After killing Bill, Keyes sexually assaulted Lorraine, killing her.
Keyes asserted that he was responsible for the deaths of at least five other people, although he never identified these victims. According to his story, he was responsible for the deaths of four persons in the state of Washington: a married couple sometime between 2001 and 2005 and two separate victims in 2005 and 2006. In addition, Keyes claimed that in 2009 he had committed a murder on the East Coast and subsequently dumped the body in New York. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has “relative confidence” that the victim was a New Jersey native named Debra Feldman, who was reported missing in April 2009.
A young woman called Julie Harris went missing in Colville in 1996. A month after she disappeared, her prosthetic feet were discovered, and her remains were discovered in 1997. This has led to speculation that she may have been one of the other victims of the Keyes case. Although Keyes was present in the vicinity when Harris vanished, he has consistently denied any role in the disappearance. It has also been suggested that Keyes is responsible for other unsolved crimes, including the killings of Mary Cooper, who was 56 years old, and her daughter Susanna Stodden, who was 27 years old. Both were shot while hiking in Washington in 2006, and the case has never been solved.
In addition, Keyes stated that he planned to depart Alaska in the near future and work as a contractor while traveling across storm-affected regions in search of further victims. He had a recurring nightmare of one day constructing a home where he could lock up his victims.
Even though Keyes appeared to enjoy restricting the flow of information while he was in detention, he provided investigators with some information regarding the crimes he committed. He said that he did not want his mother or daughter to suffer due to his actions and that he hated the thought of being incarcerated for a long time. He also stated that he desired a date for his execution to be set as soon as possible. As a negotiating chip with law enforcement, Keyes provided specifics regarding the killings of Currier family members.
On the evening of December 1, 2012, Keyes took his own life inside the detention cell he was sent to in Anchorage. Even though Keyes had been warned not to give him a razor blade, one had been handed to him. While lying in bed, he cut his wrist and attempted to strangle himself with the sheet. The discovery of his body was not made until the early morning of December 2nd.
On December 8, 2012, the only people who attended the funeral for Keyes were his mother, four of his sisters, and three of his brothers-in-law.
A few days before Keyes took his own life, he was subjected to one more round of questioning. Recordings from several of his interrogations have been made available to the general public.
In 2000, Keyes started dating a woman who was a resident of the Makah Reservation in the state of Washington. Around the year 2001, their daughter was born.
In 2007, Keyes uprooted his life to follow a long-term relationship with a nurse practitioner who worked in Alaska.
While Keyes was in custody, he expressed his desire to protect his daughter from experiencing any negative consequences as a result of his actions: “Because she is currently in a secure location and will not be exposed to any of this, it is important to me that my child be given the opportunity to mature. I hope that she will be able to grow up without the weight of all of this responsibility on her shoulders.”
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