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True crime. Casually done.

Israel Keyes: The Phantom Psychopath

It is the evening of February 1st 2012. The city of Anchorage [anker-idge] Alaska rests next to the frigid waters of the Cook Inlet on a strip of coastal lowland, flanked by the mighty Chugach [chew-gatch] Mountains which loom large over the city. Being a port town that caters to the local oil industry and military bases, Anchorage contains roughly 300,000 people and 40% of Alaska’s population. It also has roughly 300 black bears and grizzly bears in nearby residence, along with thousands of moose which are frequently seen wandering around the city and on the local highways. In February, the temperatures typically never rise above freezing, even during the day, and at night the temperature hovers between -10 and -30 degrees Celsius or between 14 and -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Even by the standards of lifelong inhabitants of northern climes, this is a pretty brisk winter, to say the least.

Scattered around Anchorage are small coffee kiosks, and people can just drive up to them and purchase a warm beverage from a drive-through window, in order to avoid leaving the warmth of their vehicles. Working at one such kiosk, named “Common Grounds”, is 18 year old Samantha Koenig [coh-nig]. She is a cheerful, 5-foot-4 tomboy, who fancies guns, riding ATVs, fishing, and camping. Samantha is also a recovering drug addict, having fallen into excessive and debilitating cocaine use the year before.

It is almost 8pm. Common Grounds stays open later than most coffee kiosks in the city. Samantha is just clearing up in order to close the kiosk for the night. Thereafter, she was due to be picked up at around 8.30pm by her boyfriend, Duane [dwayne]. A man approaches the kiosk on foot and knocks on the window. Samantha opens it. The man is wearing a black balaclava ski mask, which in other contexts might be menacing, but Alaska is bloody cold, so the sight is not even remotely unusual for Samantha. The man hands her his travel thermos and orders a café “Americano”, which is espresso diluted with water and sometimes a bit of standard coffee. Samantha smiles and turns around to fill the man’s thermos. Turning back around to collect the man’s payment, she stops and instinctively jerks back and raises her hands in the air. The man in the black ski mask is pointing a pistol at her.

“This is a robbery,” the man says calmly. “Turn off the lights for the kiosk and kill the light for the open sign.” Her arms still raised, Samantha immediately does so. Her hand hovers over the small panic button that is located just next to the light switch. She does not press it. If she had done so, a distress call would have automatically gone out to police dispatchers, who would have sent along a patrol car. But the police response time was impossible for Samantha to predict, and she did not wish to agitate the man currently aiming a gun at her, in case he noticed her doing it. All told, Samantha reasoned this was just a robbery and all she needed to do was comply, so the man would go away as soon as possible. She’d then call the police, answer a few questions, and the kiosk’s owner would make an insurance claim on the petty cash that was stolen.

Darkness descended on the small kiosk, the main source of light now being the glow of street lamps shining through the window where the man was standing. “Empty the cash register and hand me the money,” the man instructs her. Samantha does so, reaching through the window to hand the man the cash. Throughout this entire process, the girl does not utter a word.

“Turn around and face away from the window,” the man says. Samantha does as she’s told. The man reaches through the window and binds Samantha’s hands behind her back with zip ties. “Step forward,” the man tells Samantha. She steps a few paces forward away from the window. In one swift movement, the man jumps through the window, over the counter, and into the kiosk.

“Where’s your car?” the man asks her.

“I don’t have one,” Samantha replies.

“Who’s picking you up from work?” the man inquires. For some reason, Samantha lies and tells the man that her father is picking her up, rather than her boyfriend.

“Did you press an alarm?” the man asks, which Samantha denies. The man presses her, “I’ve got an earpiece connected to a police scanner in my truck, so I’ll hear if a call goes out. You’d better not be lying.” Samantha assures the man she is not lying.

The man takes a pile of napkins from the counter and forces them into Samantha’s mouth, gagging her. He grabs her, sticks the end of the gun into her ribs, and pushes her toward the door.

“Move.” he commands her.

The Roads of Anchorage

Outside, the man marches Samantha across a large parking lot toward a white pickup truck he parked at the far end, to avoid the vehicle showing up on any security cameras. As they make their way across the parking lot, the man sees a digital camera just sitting there in the snow. He picks it up, planning on selling it later. Taking advantage of the man’s momentary lack of attention, Samantha takes off running. The man, 6-foot-2, muscular, immediately tackles her and sticks the gun back into her ribs. With only the slightest note of frustration in his voice, the man informs Samantha, “Try that again, and you’re dead.”

The parking lot is well lit and not completely abandoned. There are other parked cars and a few other people rushing out of the cold. After all, it is only 8pm at night. “Lean on me and pretend that you are drunk,” the man instructs Samantha. She leans on him. Finally, they reach the truck, the man opens the passenger door, and pushes Samantha inside. Still bound, she sits on her hands, as the man pulls the seatbelt around her. The man walks around the truck and enters the driver’s seat and slams the door.

The man takes the napkins out of Samantha’s mouth. “I’m going to hold you for ransom,” the man explains. Samantha replies that her family is poor and he probably won’t get much money out of them. The man shrugs and says that it was fine, her family were likely to raise the money. The man starts the truck’s engine and they drive off into the night.

The masked man proceeds to drive around Anchorage for the next four hours, going nowhere in particular, with Samantha sat quietly next to him. He stops once by the roadside so that Samantha can squat and relieve herself. He stops again so he can smoke a cigar. While they drive around the city, they pull up to a set of traffic lights. The light goes red and the man halts the vehicle. Pulling up next to them was a police car with two cops inside. They are staring straight ahead, waiting for the light to change.

Samantha sits still and does not try to get their attention. She has calculated that cooperation was the best way to get out of a ransom situation alive. The light turns green and the two vehicles lurch forward and then part ways. The cops were completely oblivious to the kidnap victim a few feet from them.

The man pulls over yet again, unbuckles Samantha and takes her from the passenger seat and transfers her to the back seat of the truck, where he lies her down. Noticing she is cold, because Samantha is wearing nothing but her work uniform and obviously did not take a jacket when she was marched at gunpoint out of the kiosk, the man throws a few blankets on top of her to keep her warm. The man drives off again and stops in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart. He sits there for a few minutes, thinking, observing the large number of people still milling around the place, even though it was getting late.

Suddenly the man asks Samantha, “Where is your cell phone?” The girl tells him it is back at the coffee kiosk. The man pulls away and drives all the way back to Common Grounds. Leaving Samantha lying quietly in the back seat of his truck, he walks back into the kiosk. When he initially had kidnapped Samantha, the man had left the door unlocked. The man retrieves Samantha’s phone. He also picks up a few zip ties that he had dropped on the floor earlier. And in order to delay suspicion for as long as possible, this time the man uses Samantha’s keys to lock the door behind him as he exits the kiosk.

Impersonating Samantha, the man sends two text messages. One to Samantha’s boyfriend, and another to her father, explaining she had a bad day and was going to stay with her friends for the weekend. This story was aided by the fact that Samantha and Duane had a heated argument the night before.

Back on the road again, the man blindfolds Samantha. Around midnight, they pull up to a small residential house in a respectable Anchorage neighbourhood. The man momentarily leaves the truck and enters the house to make sure his girlfriend and 10 year old daughter are asleep. Blindfolded and bound, Samantha is forced out of the back seat of the truck and ushered into a small shed around the back of the house. Within the shed are two large space heaters, which the man duly flicks on, and a tarp forebodingly spread out across the floor. He pushes Samantha down onto a small overturned bucket which she uses for a seat. The man removes her blindfold and takes off his black ski mask.

The Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Samantha looked up at a man in his mid-thirties, slim, clean-shaven, short brown-hair, brown eyes which were slightly too widely spaced, rubbery lips, and a somewhat weak chin. His face was impassive and unsmiling. Aside from his intimidating height, the man was unremarkable. An average joe. The man turned on a nearby stereo, full blast, and it began blaring heavy metal music. “If you try to scream,” he warned Samantha, “no one will be able to hear you.” The man then took a rope, tied it around Samantha’s neck, and then bolted the rope to the wall so that Samantha was effectively held in place.

“Where’s your debit card?” the man asked.

“I don’t have one on me,” Samantha explained, “but I do share one with my boyfriend Duane. It’s in his truck.”

“What’s the address?” the man asked wearily. Samantha told him.

“What’s the PIN number?” he asked. Samantha recited it to him.

The man donned the ski mask again, got up, and left Samantha tied up in the shed. He drove his girlfriend’s car to the address Samantha provided. He parked at the end of the street and walked the short distance to a truck parked in the driveway of a nearby house. He used Samantha’s keys to unlock the door of the truck and get inside.

The man quickly finds Samantha’s debit card. Just then, the porch lights of the house flicker on, and the front door opens. Duane, Samantha’s boyfriend, stands on the doorstep staring at the masked man climbing out of his vehicle. Duane yells at him to “get the f*ck outta here.” For a few seconds the two men stand there and glare at each other. Duane then goes back into the house to call for help.

Not losing a millisecond, the man legs it down the street, quickly checks over his shoulder to make sure he is not being observed, dives into his girlfriend’s car and drives off in the opposite direction. While driving to a nearby ATM machine, the man realises he has forgotten the PIN number. He drives all the way back to his house and barges into the shed.

“What was the PIN number again?” he demands of Samantha. She repeats it. The man dashes out of the shed, slamming the door, climbs back into his girlfriend’s car, and drives to a nearby ATM. He tests the PIN number but does not withdraw any cash. By this point it is approximately 3am.

The man then drives back to his house. He does not go back to the shed, but heads into the house to make sure his girlfriend and daughter are still asleep. The man pours himself a glass of red wine, he sits back in a lazy boy chair and gently quaffs his drink while he stares thoughtfully at the ceiling. A heavy drinker, the man quickly works his way through half a bottle in a matter of minutes.

He then gets up, retrieves a glass of water, and takes it to the shed. He gives it to Samantha. She drinks it. He then unbinds her from the wall, cuts her zip tie restraints, and offers her a cigarette, which Samantha accepts. The two have an awkward conversation as the heavy metal continues to blare over the stereo. The man unloads on her a highly cynical and slightly disjointed view of the world, which the 18 year old girl responds to hesitatingly and with mounting confusion.

Then the man lays Samantha down on the tarp and binds her arms and legs again. The man rapes the victim, twice, over the course of just 10 or 20 minutes.

At this point Samantha looks up at him and asks, “Are you going to kill me?”

“Yes,” the man replies, matter-of-factly.

With surprising calmness, Samantha tries to talk the man out of it, but he won’t be dissuaded. He begins to strangle her, and the man is excited by looking into Samantha’s eyes as she drifts in and out of consciousness. Nevertheless, morning is fast approaching and the man realises this is taking too long. He stabs her in the back in order to speed up the process. Eventually Samantha Koenig dies. The man leaves her bleeding on the tarp in the shed. The man then re-enters his house, takes a warm shower, and wakes up his 10 year old daughter and tells her to get ready for their trip.

A Luxurious Caribbean Cruise!

The man headed back into the shed, rolled Samantha’s body up in the tarp, and shoved her in a cabinet. The man flicked off the space heaters to avoid the body rotting and starting to smell. Instead, within the shed, it would be preserved by the sub-zero Alaskan cold. The man locked the door of the shed. He then called a taxi, went to the airport, and flew to New Orleans, from where he departed on a 12 day cruise around the Caribbean that he had booked months ago.

On the morning of Februrary 2nd 2012, one of Samantha’s co-workers at Common Grounds entered the kiosk and noticed that Samantha had not put things away properly from the night before. A number of espresso utensils were unwashed, and there were cups and napkins strewn around the place. Then the co-worker noticed the cash register had been completely emptied. The employee called the police.

Initially police suspected that Samantha had stolen the money and scarpered away somewhere with her friends. Because of Samantha’s past cocaine and marijuana abuse, for which she was in recovery, they assumed the young woman had just relapsed and was off somewhere on a bender after she had fought with her boyfriend. When police finally reviewed the grainy security camera footage from the coffee kiosk on February 3rd, all they saw was Samantha talking to someone at the drive-through window before turning off the lights, and the man jumping inside. Initially, the police assumed this was Samantha’s friend or drug dealer. Police overlooked Samantha putting up her hands, the man at the window was out view, and once the lights in the kiosk were out, they did not see the gun. The drug theory was supported by interviews with several of Samantha’s friends, who also thought it was likely she was on a drug binge, and a number of hours were wasted chasing up this theory. Police followed leads regarding Samantha’s connection with drug dealers, people who were allegedly robbing those drug dealers, and people who were conducting “grow-ops” within local residential houses.

In case anyone is baffled at this point, or shouting “get your sh*t together police!” like in many episodes of the Casual Criminalist, allow me to provide some highly intriguing insight that comes direct from a professional criminalist colleague of mine. In the overwhelming majority of police investigations (let us say, for sake of argument, 90%) investigators are not playing a game of Sherlock Holmes piecing together mysterious clues against an elusive foe. In the majority of police work, the obvious offender is already in their sights from the outset, and police just spend time collecting enough evidence to put forward a case against this person to the Crown or District Attorney. Once police alight on a theory, often by little more than from intuition and experience, they pursue it relentlessly rather than carefully weighing up each new clue and considering all possible explanations. In the overwhelming majority of cases that would be wasted energy, and, let us face it, the majority of investigators are not as intelligent as Sherlock Holmes, but are middle income civil servants pedantically following bureaucratic procedures. It is only when investigators hit a dead end or some startling new information comes to light that they begin to consider other explanations and start pursuing other theories. But sometimes, tragically, the police will continue to pursue the wrong suspect right up to court or even conviction. And many of the remaining 10% of crimes that are Sherlock Holmes mysteries go unsolved.

And that is why the Anchorage beat cops ignored clear f*cking evidence of an abduction for a more convenient explanation of a drug addict robbing her place of work to go on a bender. Hell, if we want to be charitable, just by sheer odds, in similar contexts, maybe 9 times out of 10, the local PD would have been right.

However, days turned into weeks and police began to entertain other theories. Meanwhile, Samantha’s father began to make public appeals and drum up public support for his missing daughter. He was also deeply angered that she was being written off as a junkie and a thief. A vigil was held which hundreds of people attended. The story of Samantha’s disappearance started to make it into the national news.

Meanwhile her kidnapper, rapist, and murderer was soaking in the sun thousands of miles away. After his cruise, the man went to Texas to spend a brief time with relatives there. On February 15th, 58 year old Jimmy Tidwell, an electrician who lived in the tiny town of Mount Enterprise, Texas, disappeared without a trace in the early hours of the morning, after leaving his night shift. Jimmy was short and mildly obese, and not in the best shape to defend himself. His truck was later found 5 miles from his house. On February 16th, the next day, in the small town of Aledo [ah-lead-oh] Texas, Samantha Koenig’s killer robbed and burned down a house while the owners were not at home. The man intended to use the fire as a distraction to rob a bank at the other end of town. Unfortunately, the man lost track of time watching the house burn from a nearby hill and watching the authorities arrive, so he abandoned his plans to rob the bank.

Instead, the man drove 30 miles to Azle [ay-zell], Texas, where he robbed a different bank, concealing his face with a standard construction worker’s face mask, eye-protectors, and a white hard hat that the FBI believes had belonged to Jimmy Tidwell. More disturbingly, the man was known to have short hair at the time, yet in the surveillance footage he is shown with long brown hair. The FBI have speculated that, rather than a wig, the man was wearing Jimmy Tidwell’s scalp under the hard hat. The man managed to rob $10,000 from the bank. Incidentally, Tidwell’s body has never been found, but the FBI strongly suspect that, like Samantha Koenig, Tidwell is another one of this man’s victims.

A Macabre Photoshoot

The kidnapper, murderer, rapist, burglar, arsonist, and bank robber returned to Alaska on the weekend of February 18th 2012, and spent Saturday and Sunday with his daughter. Then on the following Monday, when his daughter was at school and his girlfriend was at work, the man went out to the shed. He pulled Samantha Koenig’s frozen body out of the cabinet, unrolled it from the blood-soaked tarp, and proceeded to defrost the body with the two space heaters and a blow dryer. The man then proceeded to have sex with the corpse. And so, we can go ahead and add necrophiliac to the list given above.

Then the man painted the body’s face with thick globs of makeup to hide the pallid colour that came from the freezing and exsanguination. He braided the corpse’s hair. He tried to super-glue the eyelids open, but failed. Instead he sewed the eyes open using a curved needle and fishing line. He placed a layer of duct tape over the mouth and around the back of the head to hold the now drooping defrosted skin in place, and to conceal the fact the young woman was dead. The man held up a February 13th copy of the Anchorage Daily News, and took a polaroid of the girl, whom he hoped the authorities would believe was still alive. This effectively gave the man an alibi, since he was out of town from February 2nd to February 17th.

As a point of interest, the FBI have never released this photograph and the one which is circulated around the internet is a mock-up from a true crime show that aired in the United States. I mention this in case the more morbid of you decide you want to look it up, or in case Jen decides to google it and helpfully throw it up on the screen. It’s a fake that a lot of people apparently believe is the real one.

Using an old typewriter, the man wrote a ransom note. He demanded $30,000 be deposited into Samantha’s bank account, so he could withdraw the money. He mentioned that he may not use the debit card much in Alaska due the fact the state had a small population and thus a smaller pool of suspects, but wrote that he would be leaving soon and would use the card from multiple locations. As a form of misdirection, the killer mentioned that Samantha had tried to get away twice, once outside Common Grounds, and again, quote, “in the desert.” Finally, the killer wrote that once the $30,000 had been fully withdrawn, between 6 months to a year later, the man would text the coordinates of an information packet which would contain all the details required to find Samantha’s location.

Thereafter, the man dismembered Samantha Koenig’s body, cutting it into five pieces. He then went to Matanuska [mata-noose-ka] Lake, which was frozen over that time of year. He built an ice fishing hut, drilled a hole into the ice, and spent two days dropping the pieces of the corpse into the water: uncovered, wrapped with a cord, and sent down to the bottom with lead fishing weights. Thereafter, the man would fish at the exact same spot and take the fish home to cook and to feed to his family.

On Friday February 24th at 7:45pm, the man sent a text message to Samantha’s father which read, “Conner park sign under pic of albert aint she purty.” The pic of albert referred to a lost dog poster for Albert the Goldendoodle located in a local Anchorage park. Under the poster, on the ground, was a ziploc bag containing the ransom note and a black and white copy of Samantha’s fake “proof of life photo.” There was some disagreement among Anchorage police and FBI investigators about whether Samantha was alive in the photo. Her blank stare and odd expression convinced a minority of investigators that they were looking at a corpse. An FBI snuff film analyst was called into the investigation but they could not reach a conclusion based on the single black and white photograph.

Follow the Money

The police deposited the $30,000 ransom payment into Samantha’s bank account. On February 29th, at nearly midnight, $500 was withdrawn from an ATM in Anchorage. Police arrived at the scene shortly after the culprit had left the area. The ATM camera showed grainy footage of a masked man. Then just after midnight on March 3rd another $500 was withdrawn from an Anchorage ATM. The small withdrawal amounts were due to the daily limit placed on the debit card. Four days later, on March 7th, $400 was withdrawn from an ATM over 3500 miles to south in Wilcox, Arizona at 9:57pm. A couple of hours later, near midnight, the man tried to withdraw another $400 from an ATM in Lordsburg, New Mexico, but failed due to the daily limit, so wound up only taking out another $80. It was clear that the man was driving hundreds of miles to keep the authorities off his scent.

View of Dos Cabezas peaks from downtown Willcox
View of Dos Cabezas peaks from downtown Willcox. By Turaliigo, is licensed under CC-BY-SA

Two days later, on March 9th 2012, at 11:23pm, the man made a $483 withdrawal from a bank in Humble City, Texas. This time, in the camera footage from the ATM, police identified a white Ford Focus as the man’s vehicle. Texas authorities were immediately alerted to be on the lookout for such a vehicle in connection with a kidnapping.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s killer attended his sister’s wedding in Wells, Texas. A few days later at 11am on March 13th a highway patrolman spotted a white Ford Focus parked at a Quality Inn hotel in Lufkin, Texas. Police in Texas had already been alerted about a white Ford Focus in connection with a kidnapping in Anchorage, Alaska. The highway patrolman observed the car from a distance, then noted a tall man in his 30s get into the vehicle and depart.

At 11:45am, the patrolman pulled the car over for going 2 miles over the speed limit. The officer inspected the man’s driver’s license. It was issued in Anchorage, Alaska. It was at this point that the patrolman felt fairly confident that he had found his man. FBI agent Gannoway set out with a Texas Ranger toward Lufkin, Texas to observe the arrest and inspect the vehicle. In the rental car, police found a pair of women’s pink panties, a gun, and also the ski mask and white tennis shoes worn by the suspect on the ATM footage, a batch of transgender porn, rolls of cash stained by a dye pack, and Samantha Koenig’s ATM card and mobile phone.

The man was arrested. Upon questioning, he claimed he was in Texas to attend his sister’s wedding and was driving to see the Grand Canyon. He asserted that the suspicious items in his possession were thrown into his car by an unknown individual. Beyond that, the man became silent and uncooperative during the rest of his interrogation. Police in Alaska meanwhile paid a visit to the man’s home in Anchorage, where nobody answered the door. They matched a truck parked in the driveway to one captured on Home Depot camera footage pulling out of the same parking lot where Samantha Koenig had been abducted from Common Grounds on the evening of February 1st. The truck was registered to a man named “Israel Keyes.”

Meet Israel Keyes

Israel Keyes was born January 7th 1978 in the tiny Mormon community of Cove, Utah, to John and Heidi Keyes, who even by the standards of Mormonism were eccentric religious zealots with some unusual and perhaps even heretical views. Israel was the second of ten children, all of whom were born at home and had no birth certificates. Israel and his siblings were homeschooled. They acquired literacy by memorising the Bible. Aside from theology, their education consisted mainly of practical skills involving hunting, carpentry, cooking, sewing, cleaning, along with advanced survival and wilderness skills. The emphasis was on god, family, and self-reliance. John and Heidi were transplants to Utah from Los Angeles, seeking a life away from the corruptions of civilisation and the interference of the state. Essentially John and Heidi were doing their best Dutch van der Linde impression.

John and Heidi had a tense relationship with their community in Cove. On a few occasions, neighbours called the authorities to make welfare checks on what they perceived as strange goings on at the Keyes family home. In 1983, John and Heidi rejected Mormonism and moved north to the top of Aladdin Mountain, Colville District, in Washington State. The entire Colville District had a population of roughly 4000 people, in a landscape covered with forest, connected by a network of narrow dirt roads. Here John and Heidi rented an isolated one bedroom cabin which did not have electricity or running water, while John took several years building a cabin of their own. Firmly clasped in Mother Nature’s embrace, the Keyes family could do as they pleased. It should be noted that in the one bedroom cabin John and Heidi conceived several more pregnancies while sleeping in the same room as their existing children.

In order to make ends meet, John Keyes lent out his services as an appliance repairman. All their neighbours were of similar philosophical dispositions. They were devout Christians without traditional denominations. They home-schooled their kids. They preferred to live in nature, far removed from the interference of the United States government. The neighbourhood would meet regularly for potluck dinners, theology meetings, and play-dates between children of the different families.

Lack of proper medical care and dentistry in the community left Israel with slightly crooked teeth and deformed toes from wearing second-hand shoes that were several sizes too small. From the age of 8, Israel helped out John’s business and with the construction of the family cabin. By age 12, Israel had become a seasoned hunter, and supplemented his family’s diet by shooting, skinning, preparing, and sometimes even cooking, the animals he bagged. He became a proficient marksman, gunsmith, and developed a hobby of repairing, restoring, and tinkering with old firearms. Because the Keyes were a family of 10, and evidently because both John and Heidi were pretty useless as both carers and providers, the Keyes family came to rely heavily on Israel to provide, to repair things, to cook, to clean, and even to braid his sisters’ hair. Imagine being upstaged in parental duties by a tween.

In 1990, the Keyes family began attending the Ark Church. The Ark was a cultural supremacist organisation which preached Anglo-Saxon Christian superiority. There is a slight difference here between the Ark and a full blown white supremacist organisation, the latter of which would more likely preach that a genetic difference favours all Nordic European whites of any cultural background. Instead, according to the Ark’s doctrines, the Anglo-Saxon Christian principles on which the United States was founded were betrayed by non-Christians, Catholics, Communists, non-English Europeans (including Germans, Scandinavians, French, and Scots), and of course all non-European immigrant cultures. While the church itself entertained the idea that any person could be assimilated into Anglo-Saxon Christian culture, its community was largely composed of whites of predominantly English descent.

More bizarrely, the church preached that the Anglo-Saxons were descended from the original Israelites, and that ancient Jews were all converted to Christianity by the year 600 AD, and any Jewish people who existed in the world today were imposters, damned by Satan, who had nefarious purposes and sought to undermine Western civilisation out of vengeance for past injustices. So at least in regard to rampant anti-Semitism, the Ark was indistinguishable from a typical US white supremacist Christian organisation, while at the same time bizarrely preaching that English people were the original Jewish people. Feel free to pause the video and take about 2 minutes to 20 years to figure out the logic of that one. And bear in mind this wasn’t some backwoods hillbilly cult from the 1820s. This was 1990.

The Keyes family doubled down on their community spirit and also attended the nearby Christian Israel Covenant Church, which had a similar biblical interpretation, doctrines of belief, and unorthodox historical perspective. It is worth noting that both of these churches still exist, with some rebranding, in Washington State today. At this second church, 12 year old Israel Keyes met 17 year old Chevi Kehoe [chevy key-hoe] and his younger brother Cheyne [shane]. Six years later, Chevi became a full blown white supremacist, Aryan nation Nazi, and went on to murder a married couple and their 8 year old daughter in 1996, during a home invasion and robbery, and in 1997 survived a vicious shootout with police before going on the run and eventually being captured. He was executed by lethal injection on July 14th 2020. His brother Cheyne was also involved in the 1997 shootout, and got 24 years in prison, which was later reduced to 11 years, before being rearrested in 2013 for illegally stockpiling firearms.

Israel himself dipped in the extreme opposite direction as Chevi Kehoe. Israel rejected all of his family’s religion and ideology completely by the mid-1990s, and instead of full blown white supremacy he gravitated toward a loose adherence to the principles of Satanism. Only the barest outlines of the belief system of his childhood – namely a violent distain for the decadence of wider society and a hatred for modern America – remained.

By the age of 14, Israel would run with some of the local boys and his younger sisters and wreak havoc in the community. They’d set fires and torment wild animals. One of their favourite activities was to shoot b.b. guns at a house. If no outraged occupant came out, the kids would break inside, and move around the furniture slightly to freak out the neighbours when they returned. Other times during their break-ins they’d steal valuables or more frequently guns, of which there was an unsurprising abundance in the area. It was during this time that Israel acquired a pistol which he concealed and carried on his person at all times. By the age of 14, Israel had also grown to a scrawny but substantial 6 feet tall.

In that same year of 1992, when Israel was still 14, he expanded his targets to domestic pets. He completely disgusted his friends by shooting cats and dogs. One time Israel turned his sights to his sister’s cat, which kept getting into the trash and making a mess. Israel, a group of local teens, and one of his other sisters, took the cat into the woods. Israel tied the cat to a tree with a 10 foot long parachute cord. He shot the cat in the stomach. In agony and panic, the cat ran circles around the tree, trying to get away, until the cord ran out of slack and the cat smashed skull first into the tree and started vomiting blood. Israel just laughed. But when he turned around he noticed that all the other kids seemed traumatised. One of the boys was bent over being violently sick on the ground. One of the kids told his parents, who confronted John and Heidi Keyes, who punished Israel.

From that point forward, Israel ceased hanging out with any of the local teens or his sisters, and conducted his sadistic activities in the woods on his own. It was at 14 that Israel realised that he was drastically different from all the other people he knew. At age 16, Israel moved out to a nearby cabin he had built for himself for privacy. By this point, Israel displayed most of the symptoms of primary psychopathy. He lacked empathy, was incapable of genuine guilt, enacted cold and calculated cruelty, lied when it suited his advantage, and maintained a façade toward others in order to get what he wanted. Israel often opined that his mind was inhabited by two people. The fake everyman and the cruel tormentor. And during his adolescence that cruelty graduated into sexual sadism.

Yet in adulthood Israel became a highly intelligent, organised, high-functioning psychopath who was able to mask his desires and cover up his deeds. While occasionally a few people who met him might feel the instinctual alarm bell that this man was “creepy”, until his arrest in 2012 most people had no idea what Israel Keyes was really like or what he was capable of. After the abduction of Samantha Koenig, and right up to being identified as the driver of the white Ford Focus who had frequented the ransom ATMs, Keyes was not even on the police radar.

Keyes was fairly good at covering up evidence and disappearing bodies. And unlike some serial killers he had no desire to brag about his kill count. They were all committed for his own private enjoyment. And while he privately sought some individual, anyone, but preferably a woman, to briefly share his particularly jaded view of the world with, he was not what we’d call a “statement killer” either. Keyes had very little interest in imposing his own ideology on the world or winning converts to his point of view. The man was a phantom psychopath, a poisonous wallflower, who just quietly enjoyed killing. And the disturbing thought is there are probably thousands of high-functioning psychopaths like him out there. Quietly adding to the missing persons list, and almost never getting caught.

Open, My Trembling Flower, Or Your Petals I’ll Crush

In 1996, when Israel was 18, John and Heidi Keyes rejected the doctrines of both the Ark and Israel Covenant churches, just like they had done with Mormonism previously. They sold their Mount Aladdin cabin which John and Israel had completed 6 years earlier, along with the smaller cabin that Israel had built for himself when he was 16 years old. The Keyes family moved to a small pseudo-Amish colony that was also in the Colville District. I guess the flaky former Los Angelinos thought they’d give that a whirl. Or perhaps it was because John Keyes had been running up a backlog of bank loans to pay for his large family’s already modest backwoods lifestyle. There’s also some indication that John and Heidi gradually pissed off the rest of the people in the small communities they moved into.

Meanwhile by this time Israel had secretly abandoned Christianity altogether and was becoming increasingly enamoured with the principles of Satanism, which is a mixture of occult practices, 20th century hedonism and counter-culture, and in some cases outright atheism, which mocks mainstream Christianity by choosing Satan as its avatar. There is no question that Israel Keyes fell into the branch of atheistic Satanism, rather than the branch of witchy-poos who try to summon the devil. Israel Keyes at this time also became a big fan of heavy metal, gangsta rap, and rap-metal music, and, in particular, Insane Clown Posse from which he appeared to form his own (somewhat incoherent) set of philosophical ideas. By and large, Keyes was more likely to derive what he felt was profound philosophical contemplation from listening to edgy song lyrics rather than reading books or stewing over arcane intellectual treatises.

On March 3rd 1996, a 12 year old girl, Julie Harris, an amputee with two prosthetic feet who had previously partaken in the Special Olympics, went missing in Colville County. She was last seen heading to an early morning church service on her own. A month later on April 16th Julie’s purse and prosthetic feet were found near the Colville river. A year later, on April 26th 1997, Julie’s skeleton was found in the woods by a group of children roughly 6 miles outside of town. After Israel Keyes’ arrest in 2012, several witnesses came forward to affirm that Julie and Israel knew each other, and once at the local pool Keyes was seen talking to Julie, whereupon she is said to have given Keyes her phone number and address. Julie’s mother remembers him hanging around the neighbourhood. Nobody has ever been charged in connection with Julie’s murder.

At the end of 1996, having already outstayed their welcome in the pseudo-Amish community, the Keyes family moved to Dufur [doo-fur], Oregon, where they lived in a health food warehouse, providing unskilled labour for the Seltzer family. But Israel Keyes, now an adult, stayed behind in Colville to work on a construction crew. Besides, who the hell wants to live in a warehouse? Israel was also motivated to stay because he had gotten a girlfriend, which did not particularly please his Christian parents who wanted to keep a tight reign on that kind of thing. If they only knew how deep the rabbit hole went.

On June 27th 1997, 29 year old single-mother Marlene Emerson was murdered in her mobile home 7 miles outside of Colville, and the mobile home itself was burned to the ground. The body of her 12 year old daughter, Cassandra Emerson, was found 3 miles away on July 28th. Nobody was ever charged in connection with their murder.

Meanwhile, Israel picked up sticks and joined his family in Oregon. His father, John, was seriously ill and could barely work anymore. The Keyes family had moved out of the health food warehouse and were living in tents in the forest. They were renovating a local house in the woods, which they planned to sell in order to have the funds to move to yet another isolated location, this time in rural New York.

One day, in the summer of 1997, Israel Keyes was observing swimmers in the Deschutes River. There Keyes abducted an unnamed teenage girl, dragged her to the outhouse of a local campground, tied her by the neck and arms to the handrails of the toilet, and raped her. According to later testimony by Keyes, he was planning on murdering the girl and dumping her body into the cesspit, but he lost his nerve. For Keyes, not murdering the girl was one of his deepest regrets, since it was the biggest loose end that he had left open prior to letting his rental car be captured on camera by the Texas ATM in March 2012. The victim has never come forward.

In early 1998, the Keyes family sold their Oregon property and moved to the tiny hamlet of Constable, New York, right next to the Canadian border, where they bought a cabin in the woods. Because John Keyes was heavily in debt by this time, he sold Israel the cabin for one dollar, to try and prevent the bank from foreclosing on it.

On March 2nd 1998, 19 year old college student, Suzanne Lyall, was last seen at 9:45pm getting off a bus at the University of Albany Uptown Campus, New York State. Two men are suspected of her disappearance, one of whom is Israel Keyes, and the other is John Regan, a rapist who was later arrested for kidnapping a high school girl in Saratoga in 2005. The case remains unsolved.

For Keyes and Country

In June 1998, only half a year after moving to the cabin in Constable, New York, Israel Keyes, now aged 20, had a falling out with his parents. He told them he didn’t believe in Christianity, he told them he was joining the United States Army, and eventually he told them to get the hell off his property. Israel entered active duty on July 9th as part of a mortar platoon, in the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, in the United States 25th Infantry Division. John Keyes, Israel’s father, would die in 2002. While Israel Keyes would eventually repair his relationship with some of his siblings, their endless attempts to convert Israel to whatever “Keyes Family Religious Flavour of the Month” they had going on, was a constant source of tension between them.

Over the course of Keyes’ military career, he was posted at Fort Lewis in Washington State, Fort Hood in Texas, and on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. His commanding officers largely describe Keyes as a good soldier, someone who followed orders and did not lose his head under pressure. Initially quiet and reserved upon joining up, Keyes quickly fell into the jarhead lifestyle. It was here that Keyes first developed his taste for alcohol. Starting with drinking large quantities of beer from the mess hall, eventually growing to the skulling of an entire bottle of bourbon whiskey over the course of a weekend. Or over the course of one night. It might be fair to say that in addition to being a functioning psychopath, Keyes became a functioning alcoholic. He also briefly dabbled in weed, LSD, and cocaine.

In the year 2000, Israel Keyes was posted to Egypt, before the Arab Spring a US “pensioner-puppet” regime, where essentially the USA paid the Egyptian government such a staggering amount of money each year that they fell into line with US policy. Keyes was part of a multi-national border force that made sure no unauthorised armed groups passed illegally across Egypt’s borders. Largely this was to “plug the leak” of men and arms into the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to avoid strengthening Palestinian partisan forces there. While on a few days leave in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, Keyes later recounted that he frightened both a Norwegian exchange student and an Israeli prostitute with his sexual sadism, and stopped himself short of murder because he knew the likelihood of it being discovered by his squad mates or army authorities. He suppressed his urges until he was out of the army.

In the autumn of 2000, Keyes met a woman online named Tammy, a single mother 10 years his senior who had an 8 year old son. She was a Native American who also had part-African ancestry and who lived on a reservation at Neah [knee-ah] Bay, Washington State. I point this out to underline the fact that by this time Keyes had completely rejected the cultural and white supremacy of his former Colville community. Too many amateur psych analyses I’ve seen write off Keyes as an Oklahoma style murderer. It’s more complicated than that.

Tammy and Keyes met for lunch in December of that year, while Keyes was on leave, and wound up getting drunk all night together. A few months later Tammy fell pregnant with Israel’s future daughter, who was born in October 2001. Israel eventually became so fond and protective of his daughter that he would henceforth avoid murdering people who also had young dependent children.

Meanwhile on July 8th 2001, Keyes was honorably discharged from the army. Enjoying a relatively peaceful term of service, he got out just before 9/11 and the totally well executed and definitely not botched 20 year occupation and democratisation of Afghanistan.

The Poisonous Wallflower

Israel Keyes moved in with Tammy on the reservation at Neah Bay. Keyes worked as an odd-job repairman and later for the parks and recreation department. His romantic relationship appears to have been stable for a handful of years, and Keyes was by this point well practiced at maintaining an outward façade of control and respectability.

On June 24th 2006, Gilbert Gilman, aged 47, was hiking in Olympic National Park, roughly 80 miles from the reservation at Neah Bay. That afternoon Gilman failed to turn up for a meeting with a friend. His car was found a few days later in Olympic National Park near a ranger station. When asked about his activities at this time, Keyes simply shrugged and replied, “Neah Bay’s a boring town.”

Although Keyes’ home life had so far been stable, Tammy was diagnosed with uterine cancer, was given a hysterectomy, was put on heavy pain medication, and thereafter fell heavily into depression and extreme alcoholism. In 2005, Keyes met another woman online named Kimberly, a travelling nurse, and the two began a secret affair. Then in 2007, Keyes left Tammy for Kimberly, and due to Tammy’s alcoholism Keyes gained custody of their daughter. Keyes, Kimberly, and his daughter then moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where Keyes started up a construction business.

Israel Keyes quickly gained a reputation in Anchorage for being a quiet reliable chap, a decent contractor, and a fellow who kept his nose clean. People even gave him the keys to their homes so he could effect repairs on them while they were out of town. This included a lawyer at the district attorney’s office in Anchorage. Owning his own business allowed Keyes to make his own schedule, and he took full advantage of this by frequently travelling across the rest of the United States.

On April 9th 2009, Debra Feldman, a 49 year old homeless drug addicted prostitute disappeared from Hackensack, New Jersey. Based on incriminating statements Keyes made during his interrogation, the FBI are almost certain he murdered Feldman. Her body was never found.

On April 10th 2009, the next day, Israel Keyes robbed a bank in Tupper Lake, New York, while brandishing a handgun and disguising himself with sunglasses and a fake goatee and moustache. He later admitted to this robbery while under interrogation.

On June 3rd 2011, 21 year old college student, Lauren Spierer, was last caught on street cameras leaving a sports bar in Bloomington, Indiana. She was heavily intoxicated and was walking home alone, having forgotten her mobile phone and purse in the bar. The day before, Israel Keyes had flown from Anchorage to Chicago, Illinois, rented a car by paying cash, turned off his mobile phone, and had driven 230 miles to Bloomington, Indiana.

The day after Lauren Spierer’s disappearance, Keyes began an arduous 900 mile drive from Indiana to Vermont. What happened next, Keyes admitted to, in full, under interrogation. Keyes went to a sharp bend in the nearby Winooski [win-ooh-ski] River in Vermont, where he unearthed a cardboard box which he had buried there 2 years previously. Keyes removed an orange Home Depot bucket from the box, which was one of what Keyes called his “kill caches” or what the authorities and press would later term “kill kits.” The orange bucket contained 22 caliber AR15 bullets, a black plastic silencer, a Ruger 22 Charger Rimfire Pistol with TruGlo Scope, a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle, multiple gun stocks and slings, a bipod for gun mounting, a bag of Damprid moisture absorber to prevent the spread of odours, four empty gun magazines, large quantities of drain cleaner, duct tape, rope, zip ties, and a shovel.

On the evening of June 8th 2011, five days after the disappearance of Lauren Spierer, in Essex Vermont, Israel Keyes tried and failed to abduct a man who was leaving his car and going into an apartment complex. According to Keyes, the guy was simply too fast getting out of his car and running into the building to get out of the rain. If the oblivious man had been a little slower, Keyes had already worked out a meticulous way of raping him, killing him, and disposing of the body. Instead, Keyes returned to his hotel, where he stayed until midnight before heading out again.

Never Let a Good Plan Go to Waste

At 12 pm, Keyes left his hotel and walked a few minutes down the street to a residential neighbourhood. He scoped out a white residential house that he chose at random. Keyes proceeded to cut the telephone and electricity lines to the house. Donning a headlamp, he broke into the garage and grabbed a crowbar from the wall, which he used to break the glass on the door leading into the house. Keyes then made a beeline for the master bedroom, where he woke Bill and Lorraine Currier, a couple in their 50s, and held them at gunpoint. Keyes confiscated a small revolver from Lorraine’s nightstand, some jewelry, their ATM cards, some medication, and some intimate clothing, packing it all into the Currier’s own suitcases.

During the encounter Lorraine tried to physically resist being bound with zip ties, and so Keyes grabbed her by the throat and threw her down on the bed, saying, “If you do that again, I am not going to be happy.” Keyes bound the Curriers’ hands, told them to put on their slippers, and escorted them to the garage, where Keyes loaded them into the passenger seats of the Curriers’ green sedan, taking care to buckle up their seatbelts. Keyes then proceeded to drive the Curriers to a second location.

While in the car, Bill tried to reason with Keyes. During his later interrogation, Keyes said, “I just kinda laughed at him. I don’t know if I actually said anything but in my head I was, like, you don’t even know how much planning I’ve put into this to just walk away.” The planning refers to the planting of the kill kit in Vermont, the selection of the second location he was driving them to, and the method with which he planned to dispose of their bodies. He is not referring to planning the Curriers to be his specific victims, which was a spontaneous choice. It could just as easily have been the dude running into his apartment building or anyone else in Essex, Vermont that night.

Keyes drove the Curriers to an abandoned farmhouse at 32 Upper Main Street at Essex Junction. Keyes took Bill out of the car first and forced him into the basement and tied his arms and legs to a heavy stool with Bill lying flat on his stomach on the floor. When Keyes returned to the car, he found Lorraine was standing outside, whereupon she made a run for it and Keyes chased her down and tackled her. Keyes then dragged Lorraine into the farmhouse, up the stairs, and bound her arms and legs to an old bed with duct tape. He then tied a rope around her neck and wrapped the whole thing around the moldy mattress, from bottom to top, fastening it with a compound knot.

At this point, Keyes heard Bill struggling and shouting in the basement. Instinct had taken over. Upon re-entering the basement, Keyes found that Bill had broken the stool into pieces and was in the process of freeing himself from his bindings. Keyes held a knife to Bill’s throat, intending on raping him. Bill pushed Keyes, who staggered backward. A scuffle ensued where Keyes hit Bill multiple times with a shovel, knocking him unconscious. Keyes then returned upstairs to retrieve a 22 caliber handgun with silencer. He returned to the basement to see Bill on his feet again. Keyes shot him multiple times in the arms, chest, neck, and head. He then proceeded to go outside where Keyes smoked a cigar.

Afterward, Keyes went upstairs and sexually assaulted Lorraine. Like Samantha, it was quick and happened twice. The second time, Keyes choked her to a state of unconsciousness. After she had come to, Keyes removed her bindings and forced her down into the basement where he showed Lorraine the body of her husband. Keyes then proceeded to throttle Lorraine to death. To be sure she was dead, Keyes took a zip tie and tightened it as far as it would go around her neck.

Keyes moved the bodies of Bill and Lorraine Currier to a corner of the basement, whereupon he poured two gallons of drain cleaner on them to speed up decomposition. He then covered their bodies with multiple standard size garbage bags. To further conceal the bodies, he threw old junk and wood panels on top of them. Originally, Keyes had planned to burn the entire farmhouse to the ground to further conceal the evidence. But morning was fast approaching and Keyes could already hear sounds of traffic on the road.

Instead, Keyes reasoned that since the abandoned farmhouse was in such poor shape that anyone who bought the land would simply demolish it. He gambled that the new owner would not commit a full inspection of the interior before demolition, much less go down into the basement, where it smelt like an animal had died, to kick around some trash bags in the corner. He gambled correctly. The house was demolished four months later in October 2011 without an interior inspection. Concrete was poured over where the basement once was to transform the site back into a field.

Once Keyes confessed to these murders, investigators drilled into the concrete but they were not able to locate the bodies. They tracked down the dump where the wreckage of the house was taken to. There followed a three month operation, costing millions of dollars, to excavate the dump, but investigators still never found the bodies. When Keyes was told about this, he simply thought it was funny.

Keyes left Vermont the day after the murders, drove back to Chicago where he dropped off the rental car, flew to San Francisco where he stayed the night, and then returned to Anchorage. He later disposed of the Curriers’ possessions and disposed of his kill kit by burying it at the Blake Falls Reservoir in New York State. Only two such kill kits have ever been found, but according to Keyes he had placed several of them strategically throughout the country.

Death Sweet Death

After his arrest in Texas for the kidnapping of Samantha Koenig, Israel Keyes was shipped back off to Anchorage. For the next 9 months, Keyes would be continually interrogated by the DA, Anchorage PD, and the FBI. He voluntarily submitted to 24 such interviews. This was not to show off, nor was it out of the goodness of his own heart. Keyes made several demands in exchange. Coffee, candy, cigars. But also the police keeping his name out of the press so it would not upset his daughter, and securing him an execution date so he wouldn’t spend too long locked in a cell. Keyes had not expected to get caught so soon, and when he did Keyes said he fancied it would be in a fiery shootout with the police where he either was killed or killed himself.

Keyes said, “I can’t be satisfied sitting in prison my entire life. I’d rather go out while I still have my sanity and some good memories,” before chuckling to himself.

Israel Keyes confirmed that he murdered Samantha Koenig, to the devastation of her father, gave them all the details, and it took authorities 10 hours to retrieve her remains from the bottom of the frozen Alaskan lake. In his attempts to negotiate a swift execution, Keyes also admitted to the murders of Bill and Lorraine Currier and gave explicit details. Beyond that, Keyes admitted much more vaguely to four murders in Washington State, one murder in New York State, a rape in Oregon, multiple bank robberies, house robberies, and arsons. But not getting what he wanted – a quick end to this process – he became cagey about the details and ceased to supply names. When confronted with the pictures of suspected victims, Keyes would sometimes become physically aroused, but either say he’d heard of the name but didn’t remember the story, or simply say he didn’t want to talk about that person. Yet.

Keyes became increasingly perturbed that he wasn’t getting what he wanted. On May 23rd 2012 during a court hearing, Keyes broke loose of his leg irons and jumped over the railing into the gallery. A guard punched Keyes in the face, but it did not even stop him running, much less knock him over. It took several guards tackling him and a hit from a taser to bring him down.

More months passed and Keyes turned many of his conversations toward his childhood, psychology, idols (like Ted Bundy), and personal life. The district attorney at one point told him that, “the more bodies we find the more likely it is that you’ll get that execution.” But Keyes was not won over by that argument. For some reason, Keyes thought the police were in a position to actually supply him with an execution date, when in fact that was the responsibility of a judge after significant due process.

In the early hours of December 2nd 2012, Keyes slit his wrists with a razor blade which authorities to this day still do not know how he obtained. He also tied his blanket around his neck and attached it to one of his legs so that, as he passed out from exsanguination, his leg would lower to the floor and strangle him. A guard found him round 5 or 6am. Blood had already seeped out from his cell.

Under his body was a crumpled, blood-soaked suicide note which had become so saturated that special technology was required to figure out what it said. Some pieces of it still remain illegible. The press was generally filled with frustration that the suicide note made no attempt to provide further information about his crimes. But Keyes never had any intention about helping anyone or revealing his crimes to the world unless he got something out of it. He wasn’t a show-off. He wasn’t a “statement killer.” He was a phantom who simply enjoyed quietly and meticulously killing.

Other media reports, scholars, and sometimes the police itself have referred to Keyes’ suicide note as “rambling poetry.” This is simply not the case. They are song lyrics. His preferred form of self-expression and philosophising. Just like he enjoyed listening to the lyrics of Insane Clown Posse and thought the chaotic, dark, and sometimes violent imagery their lyrics evoked were sublime. It is in this suicide note that we do get a glimpse into the worldview that possessed Keyes’ soul, though not, alas, any idea of the extent of his victims.

The lyrics boil down into four main themes. First, he uses a couple metaphors about his capture and his imminent death. Second, he rants on a bit how there isn’t a god and how humans are just bags of meat. Third, he denounces the pointlessness of American consumer culture and how they are all avoiding confronting the biggest problem of all, namely how we are all going to die and how meaningless life is. It would appear that from his deconversion in his teen years, as an atheist Israel never really could come to terms with his own mortality. Fourth, he tries to instill his feelings into a naïve unnamed victim, before it just turns into a rash of violent imagery symbolising a murder. I mulled over including the lyrics in the video, but they are too long, and I don’t want to force Simon to read all of that utter trash. One can easily find them online if anyone in the audience is curious. Good luck reading and interpreting.

Hidden under Keyes’ mattress, investigators later found 12 drawings, done in the artist’s own blood. 11 skulls believed to represent Keyes’ victims, the most likely of which were mentioned here in this episode. The 12th drawing is a pentagram with a goat’s head, believed to represent Keyes himself. His final victim. On one of the skulls is written the words, “We are one.”

Dismembered Appendices

  1. According to the skull drawing theory, Keyes murdered 11 people, of which only 3 are confirmed. However, after Keyes’ arrest a deluge of reports flooded into the police, where witnesses were able to identify Keyes stalking for victims. In one case, he approached a fisherman, asked him about anyone knowing he was there, and only lost interest when he realised the man had a son. In another, Keyes tried to abduct a woman when her car broke down. She was saved by a passing motorist. In all there are roughly 40 credible reports where witness testimony seems to accord with the timing of Keyes’ movements around the USA. It’s possible, even likely, that Keyes stalked regularly for years and murdered more than 11 people.
  2. Additionally, Keyes frequently moved around Canada and also had an obsession with Belize, so investigators have concluded there are probably other victims in other countries as well.
  3. While Keyes seems to have ceased killing people near his places of residence after he was discharged from the military, it is still a puzzle why Keyes would target Samantha Koenig, who lived in his town. Some witness accounts say that Samantha wasn’t random but was actually known to Keyes. What is more puzzling is why Keyes should endanger himself by insisting on going through with a ransom plot. It was a high risk for just $30,000. The FBI feel there is every indication that after roughly 16 years of successful murders, Keyes simply got arrogant and thought he could avoid detection. And if he had kept his car off that one ATM camera, he probably would have, and the phantom psychopath might still be quietly killing to this day.



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