Story written by Your Alaska Links Megan Mazurek & Natalie Travis
Anchorage – The U.S. District Attorneys Office, FBI and Anchorage Police Department release details of how Israel Keyes abducted and murdered Samantha Koenig.
A video clip of Keyes was also released explaining how he selected his victims.
In a 40 second video clip recorded July 10, Keyes explains if he was smart he would let his victims come to him in an isolated area far away from where he lives.
“You might not get exactly what you’re… not much to choose from in a matter of speaking but there’s also no witnesses really. There’s nobody else around,” said Keyes.
February 1, 20120 investigators say Koenig was chosen at random, and tried to run after Keyes held her at gunpoint.
Keyes took her to a shed located at his home in west Anchorage, the same night she was kidnapped, where he sexually assaulted and strangled her to death.
Investigators describe in detail the final hours of Koenig’s life in hopes to help the investigations of other murders committed by Keyes, but more importantly to illustrate Koenig’s courage the night she was murdered.
The FBI’s press release is below.
Anchorage, AK – Prior to February 1, 2012, Keyes had selected the Common Grounds coffee stand located on Tudor Road for the site of abduction. He did this after considering other coffee stands, but chose Common Grounds because of its location and because it was open later than other coffee stands. Keyes had never met or seen Samantha Koenig before. He approached the coffee stand just prior to closing time, wearing a ski mask and ordered a coffee. Samantha made the coffee and handed it to Keyes; he then pulled out a gun and demanded money. Samantha complied and then Keyes forced himself inside the coffee stand and tied Samantha’s hands with zip ties. He asked where her car was, and she told him that she did not have a vehicle. Keyes then forcibly walked her out of the coffee stand toward Tudor Road.
Samantha broke away from Keyes and tried to run away. Keyes chased her and tackled her to the ground. He put one arm around her and pointed a gun at her body with the other hand; telling her that she needed to cooperate, that the gun had very quiet ammo and that she should not do anything to make him kill her. They walked across Tudor Road into the parking lot between the IHOP restaurant and Dairy Queen, where Keyes’ white truck was parked. Keyes had previously prepared the truck for the abduction by taking the mounted tool boxes off the bed of the truck, as well as removing the license plates. Keyes then bound Samantha in the truck and drove away.
Keyes drove around town, explaining to Samantha that this was a kidnapping for ransom. Samantha told Keyes that her family did not have much money, and that Keyes was not likely to get much in ransom. Keyes explained that they will raise money for the ransom by seeking the public’s help. Keyes convinced Samantha that if she cooperated, she would be returned to her family unharmed. Samantha believed Keyes, and tried to talk to him in an effort to convince him to release her.
At some point on the drive, Keyes realized that Samantha did not have her cell phone, which was necessary for his plan to demand ransom money by sending a text message from her phone. He drove back to Common Grounds and re-entered the coffee stand, leaving Samantha bound in his truck. He retrieved the cell phone and got back into the truck and drove away. Keyes drove to another part of town where he sent two text messages from Samantha’s phone. The first message was to Samantha’s boyfriend, and the second to the owner of Common Grounds. The text messages made it appear that Samantha just had a bad day and was leaving town for the weekend. Keyes then took the battery out of Samantha’s phone.
Keyes asked Samantha for her debit card. Samantha told Keyes that she shared a bank account with her boyfriend, and that his ATM card was in the truck that they shared. Samantha told Keyes where her house was, and gave him the pin number to the ATM card. Keyes put Samantha in the shed in front of his house, bound her, and turned the radio up in the shed so no one would hear her if she screamed. He also told her that he had a police scanner and would know if she attempted to alert the neighbors.
Keyes drove to Samantha’s house and retrieved the ATM card from her truck. While he was at Samantha’s, he was confronted by her boyfriend, who yelled at him and then went back in the house to get help. Keyes ran back to his truck and left the area before he could be found. He drove to an ATM machine to test the pin number provided by Samantha. He then returned to the shed.
Keyes then sexually assaulted Samantha and asphyxiated her. Keyes left her in the shed and then went back inside his house, where he packed for a pre-planned cruise that he was taking from New Orleans. He left early that morning (February 2) for the cruise.
Keyes returned to Anchorage on February 17, 2012. He then began preparing a ransom note that demanded money be placed in the account connected with the ATM card. He went into the shed and retrieved Samantha’s body, taking steps to make it appear that she was still alive, and took a Polaroid picture of her tied up. The photo also showed Keyes’ arm holding the Anchorage Daily News from February 13, 2012. He photocopied the photo and, using a manual typewriter he purchased, typed a ransom demand for $30,000 on the back of the photo.
After preparing the note and photo, he placed it in Connor’s Bog Park, under a memorial flyer of a dog named “Albert”. Then, using Samantha’s cell phone, he texted her boyfriend, in substance, that the ransom note was “under Albert” in Connor’s Bog Park. The note was recovered by APD.
In the days that followed, Keyes dismembered Samantha’s body and drove out to Matanuska Lake, where he cut a hole in the ice and put her body in the lake.
Meanwhile, Samantha’s father James Koenig deposited reward money, which had been generously donated by members of the community, into the account connected with Samantha’s ATM card. The plan was to attempt to catch the perpetrator by tracking any withdrawals. ATM withdrawals were made in Anchorage, and then in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Authorities were able to determine that the perpetrator of these withdrawals was driving a white Ford Focus. The FBI and the Texas Rangers tracked the ATM withdrawals as they occurred. Ultimately, Corporal Bryan Henry, of the Texas Highway Patrol, pulled over a white Ford Focus matching the description. Keyes was driving. Henry, along with Texas Ranger Steve Rayburn, obtained enough information during the traffic stop to search the Ford Focus. Samantha’s cellular telephone was found in the car, and the ATM card was found in Keyes’ wallet.