Suspect captured in Lufkin charged in missing barista case

Source: Koenig family.
Source: Koenig family.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Federal kidnapping charges were filed Wednesday against a contractor in the death of an 18-year-old Anchorage woman who was abducted from the coffee stand where she worked as a barista.

U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler announced the charges against Israel Keyes during a news conference Wednesday.

He was indicted and charged with kidnapping that led to the death of Samantha Koenig, who was last seen being led away from the coffee stand by an armed man on Feb. 1. Keyes also was charged with receipt and possession of ransom money and fraud with an access device.

Koenig's body was recovered April 2 by a forensic dive team from Matanuska Lake north of the city.

Anchorage police have said Keyes was the only person of interest in Koenig's disappearance. He was arrested in Lufkin, Texas near the Cotton Patch Cafe on Highway 59, accused of using a bank card that didn't belong to Koenig. He's been held in jail since pleading not guilty to the fraud charge on March 27.

"Investigators believe Samantha died within hours of her abduction," Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said at the time.

Police released few details of the investigation or Keyes' connection to the case.

"Investigators further believe the person responsible for Samantha's death acted alone, and we are confident that we have that person in custody," he said at the time, not even mentioning Keyes by name.

When Keyes, the owner of an Anchorage construction company, was transferred from East Texas to Alaska by federal marshals, Koenig's father said she did not know Keyes.

Samantha Koenig was last seen on a surveillance tape at about 8 p.m., Feb. 1, being led away by a man with a weapon from the midtown Anchorage coffee shack where she worked.

Police classified it as an abduction based on Koenig's demeanor and the man's actions from the tape. Police refused to release the tape.

Koenig's family distributed thousands of flyers showing pictures of the missing woman and offered a reward for her return.

A memorial is planned for her Sunday at the West High School auditorium, and the public is invited to attend.

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