August 13, 2013

Seeking the Public’s Assistance

New Information Released in Serial Killer Case

Investigators in Alaska interview Israel Keyes on May 24, 2012

Israel Keyes is believed to have committed multiple kidnappings and murders across the country between 2001 and March 2012. The FBI is seeking assistance in developing more information about his travels to identify additional victims. Anyone with information concerning Keyes is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

After Israel Keyes was arrested for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig in Alaska in 2012, authorities realized that the man they had in custody was a prolific serial killer. Keyes freely admitted as much.

During conversations with investigators, the 34-year-old sometime construction worker revealed the names of two additional victims—along with tantalizing clues about other murders he had committed around the country over a period of years. But last December, Keyes killed himself in his Anchorage jail cell, leaving a trail of unanswered questions and unidentified victims.

Those victims have not been forgotten, however. Today we are releasing new information in the hopes that the public can help us identify others who died by Keyes’ hands. The information includes extensive videotaped conversations with Keyes in jail and an interactive map that contains a detailed timeline of his known movements beginning in 1997.

Israel Keyes headshot“He gave us a number of clues,” said Special Agent Jolene Goeden in our Anchorage Division. “He talked openly about some of the homicides, but much of what he said only hinted at the things he had done. So we are trying to get information out there about what he did tell us. We are letting the public know the types of cars he rented, towns he visited, campgrounds he frequented. Anything that might spur someone’s memory could help us,” Goeden said.

Apart from Koenig, who was abducted from the Anchorage coffee stand where she worked, and Bill and Lorraine Currier, a middle-aged married couple who were murdered in 2011 in Vermont, Keyes discussed “seven or eight other victims,” Goeden said. “We want to identify them.”

Investigators believe that Keyes killed and buried a victim in upstate New York in April 2009. “He also told us about a couple in Washington state, another victim in that area, and possibly others in surrounding states,” Goeden said.

FBI agents are working with law enforcement around the country to link Keyes to open cases. “If we have a missing person identified in a particular area, we work closely with that local police department to either connect the person to Keyes or not,” Goeden explained. “We have his DNA.”

It’s a painstaking process, made more complicated because Keyes was meticulous about covering his tracks. In the Currier case, for example, he flew from Alaska to Chicago, rented a car, and drove 1,000 miles to Vermont, where he searched for victims. He chose the Curriers at random.

Keyes also left “murder kits” in various locations around the country that contained, among other items, weapons and cash—the money came from bank robberies he committed to support his criminal activities. The caches provided further cover because Keyes didn’t have to risk boarding an airplane with a weapon or using credit cards that could later connect him to a crime in a particular area.

“Although he chose many of his victims randomly, a tremendous amount of planning went into these crimes,” Goeden said. “Keyes enjoyed what he did, and he had no remorse at all. He told us if he hadn’t been caught, he would have continued kidnapping and murdering people.”

We need your help. If the videos or map regarding Israel Keyes’ movements spark any memories, or if you have any information regarding Keyes, please contact your local FBI office or submit a tip online.

“That fact that Keyes is dead makes it more difficult for us,” Goeden said, “but the investigation absolutely continues.”

Controlling Until the End

Israel Keyes’ suicide in jail in December 2012 surprised FBI investigators and members of the Anchorage Police Department working on the case. Since his incarceration earlier that year, he had been talking—apparently enjoying the cat and mouse game with investigators who were trying to get information about his other victims.

In return for the clues he gave, Keyes wanted things as well. “He wanted to avoid numerous trials in different jurisdictions,” said Special Agent Jolene Goeden. “Ultimately, he wanted the death penalty and he wanted it quickly. He didn’t want to sit in jail for a long period of time.”

Although Keyes seemed at times cooperative, Goeden said he was very careful about divulging information and was always in control of what he said. “His crimes were meticulously planned, and our interviews with him were the same in a way,” she said. “I never got the sense that he accidentally told us something or got angry and something flew out of his mouth. My impression was that he always knew what he was going to give us.”

In the end, Keyes exercised the only control he had left by taking his life. “He talked about not wanting to spend the rest of his life in jail, and I know he was getting frustrated with the system and how long things were taking,” Goeden said.

Special Agent Describes Aspects of Keyes Case

Anchorage FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden, in an interview, described some of the aspects of the Israel Keyes case. Goeden, along with other FBI agents, Anchorage Police detectives, federal prosecutors, and law enforcement partners, conducted over 40 hours of interviews with Keyes.

  • "We believe there are 11 victims total, and that is based primarily on what Keyes told us. He was evasive ... he was very evasive at times during interviews, and he told us when we tried to pin him down on a number that it was less than 12. But then there were things that he would say that led us to believe that by ‘less than 12,’ he simply meant 11, and so he was quick to correct us in interviews if we had something wrong. There were several times where we just threw out statements like 'your 11 victims' and things like that and he didn’t correct us, so based on that and some additional things that he said, we believe the number is 11."

  • "Keyes was very meticulous, his crimes were very well thought out, there was nothing that was spur of the moment or he just went out one day and decided to do something. Everything was meticulously planned, and our interviews with him were the same from his standpoint. I never got the sense that he accidentally told us something or got angry and riled up and something flew out of his mouth. My sense was that he knew every time he came in kind of what he was going to give us that day."

  • "He said that it was in his early 20s, mid 20s, that he really came to terms with who he was, recognizing that he was different then other people and that he had these urges and that there wasn’t… he tried to initially blame it on Satan and religious things on why he was like this and a number of different things and then he ultimately realized that that’s just who he was and he accepted that. I think that as he began to do that, it became easier for him to do. He enjoyed—he talked about enjoying the fact that he was two different people and really being able to play that off and that people had absolutely no idea what he was doing. He even referenced times where he would be at his job when he was living in Washington and people would talk about criminals and how stupid they were and how they did this to get caught or that to get caught, and how he enjoyed those kinds of conversations because people had no clue was he was doing."

  • "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. And the only person who knows about what I’m telling you—the kind of things I’m telling you—is me."

  • "Israel Keyes had no remorse at all. He enjoyed what he did, he talked about enjoying what he did, he talked about, you know, had he not been caught, some of his future plans and what he would have done, which included continuing to do what he was doing, continuing to kidnap and murder people, so he had no remorse at all."

  • "He wanted the death penalty and he wanted it fast. Speaking generally, that was what he wanted. There were little things along the way that he wanted; he wanted evidence to return to family members and things like that, but for the big picture what he wanted was to avoid trials, wanted to avoid publicity and media, and avoid being taken from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and tried in multiple places. Ultimately he wanted the death penalty and he wanted it quickly; he didn’t want to sit in jail for a long period of time."