Serial killer captured in Lufkin believed to have been involved in 11 murders

Published: Aug. 13, 2013 at 8:50 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2013 at 7:38 PM CDT
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Israel Keyes mug shot (Photo source: FBI)
Israel Keyes mug shot (Photo source: FBI)
Samantha Koenig (Source: Koenig family)
Samantha Koenig (Source: Koenig family)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - On Tuesday, the FBI released new details on Israel Keyes, the serial killer who was arrested in the parking lot of Lufkin's Cotton Patch restaurant in March 2012 for the murder of an 18-year-old coffee barrista, saying they believe he committed 11 murders across the United States from 2001 to 2012.

Before Keyes committed suicide in his Alaska jail cell last year, he revealed the names of two more of his murder victims. According to an FBI press release, he also gave them "tantalizing clues about other murders he had committed around the country over a period of years." Mollie Halpern, another FBI agent, said in a video that Keyes also admitted to multiple kidnappings, bank robberies, home invasions,

"He gave us a number of clues," FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden said in the press release."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.

Goeden said the purpose of the newly released information, which includes the types of cars Keyes rented, towns he visited, and campgrounds he frequented, in hopes that the information may jog potential witnesses memories.

In addition to Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from the coffee stand in Anchorage, Alaska where she worked and Bill and Lorraine Currier, a middle-aged married couple from Vermont who were murdered in 2011, Koenig also discussed "seven or eight other victims."

"We want to identify them," Goeden said.

According to the press release, investigators think Keyes traveled to upstate New York in April 2009, where he killed and buried a victim.

"He also told us about a couple in Washington state, another victim in that area, and possibly others in surrounding states," Goeden said in the press release.

FBI agents are teaming up with law enforcement agencies around the country to see if there are any links between Keyes and open cases. Goeden added they have a DNA sample from Keyes that they can use along those lines. He said if local police departments in particular areas of the country have an identified missing person, the FBI works with them to see if that person is or isn't connected to Keyes.

According to the press release, it is a painstaking process." Keyes apparently took great pains to cover his tracks when he traveled across the country.

"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," the press release stated. "He chose the Curriers randomly."

In addition, Keyes left "murder kits" at various locations around the country. Each kit contained, among other items, weapons and cash. The press release stated that Keyes supported his criminal activities and travels all over the country by robbing banks.

"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," the press release stated.

Even though Keyes chose many of his victims randomly, he still put a great deal of thought and planning into the crimes, Goeden said in the press release.

"Keyes enjoyed what he did, and he had no remorse at all," Goeden said. "He told us if he hadn't been caught he would have continued kidnapping and murdering people."

In the video, Halpern said Keyes told FBI agents that he related most to convicted serial killer Ted Bundy.

According to the press release, Keyes' December 2012 suicide caught authorities by surprise.

"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," the press release stated.

The press release said Keyes wanted certain things in exchange for the information he doled out to the FBI and the Anchorage Police Department.

"He wanted to avoid numerous trials in different jurisdictions," Special Agent Jolene Goeden said in the press release. "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."

Goeden said Keyes was very careful about revealing new information. In the press release, she said their interviews with the serial killer were similar to his crimes in that they were "meticulously planned."

"I never got the sense that he accidentally told us something or got angry and something flew out of his mouth," Goeden said. "My impression was that he always knew what he was going to give us."

The FBI press release stated that Keyes' suicide was his way to exercise the only control he had left. Goeden said Keyes often talked about not wanting to spend the rest of his life in jail.

In the video footage released by the FBI, Keyes can be seen abducting Koenig from the Anchorage coffee stand where she worked.  According to a December 2012 Associated Press story, Keyes later sexually assaulted Koenig and strangled her.

Keyes left Koenig's body in a shed for two weeks while he went on a cruise. After the serial killer got back, he posed the young woman's body to make it look she was still alive. He took a Polaroid picture of her tied up, along with a newspaper dated Feb 13, which was 12 days after she was abducted.

Keyes later made a photocopy of the picture and typed a ransom note demanding $30,000 from Koenig's family on the back of it. The serial killer sent a text message to the woman's boyfriend, using Koenig's cell phone, according to the Associated Press. The text message gave directions to where Keyes had left the note at a local dog park.

The Associated Press story said Keyes dismembered Koenig's body and disposed of the remains in a frozen lake north of Anchorage after he cut a hole in the ice with a chain saw.

In March 2012, authorities tracked Keyes down to the parking lot of Lufkin's Cotton Patch restaurant, which is located on South First Street (U.S. Highway 59) after he used Koenig's debit card at ATMs in Lufkin, Arizona, and New Mexico. Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and federal agents were in on the arrest.

According a previous East Texas News story, Keyes had been staying at a Lufkin hotel. Prior to his arrest, he attended his sister's wedding in Wells. Keyes' mother and two sisters live in Wells, and their pastor, Jacob Gardner, preached at the serial killer's funeral in December 20112.

The FBI said Keyes admitted frequenting prostitutes during his travels, according to the Associated Press. The FBI says it's unknown if Keyes met any of his victims this way.

The FBI is seeking the public's help. According to the press release, if the videos, photos, or maps regarding Keyes "spark any memories," people should contact their local FBI office or submit a tip online at the FBI Website. People can also call in tips to 1-800-CALL-FBI. All of the new information from the FBI can be found at this link. Plus, an interactive timeline and map is available at this Web page.

"That fact that Keyes is dead makes it more difficult for us, but the investigation absolutely continues," Goeden said in the press release.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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