Born In: Richmond, Utah, United States
Israel Keyes was an American serial killer, arsonist, rapist, bank robber, and burglar. He had apparently started his stint with crime by raping a girl in Oregon back in 1996. Israel was one of his parents’ 10 children. He had also briefly worked in the U.S. Army and was decorated with a few honors. However, in 2012, he was arrested and charged with the murder of Samantha Koenig, a barista in Anchorage, Alaska. During the investigation that ensured, Israel not only confessed to killing Samantha but also confessed to seven other murders, including those of Bill and Lorraine Currier. Later, the FBI revealed Israel had murdered at least 11 people. In December 2012, while waiting for his trial, Israel committed suicide in his prison cell.
Died At Age: 34
father: John Jeffrey Keyes
mother: Heidi Keyes
siblings: Autumnrose Keyes, Charity Keyes, Hosanna Keyes, Sunshine Keyes
Born Country: United States
place of death: Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Israel Keyes was born on January 7, 1978, in Cove, Utah, U.S., to Heidi Keyes (née Hakansson) and John Jeffrey Keyes. His family believed in Mormonism initially. However, they converted to radical Christianity when Israel was aged between 3 and 5.
Israel was the second of the 10 children of his parents. He was homeschooled along with his siblings.
The family later shifted to Stevens County, north of Colville, Washington. There, they lived in a small, one-room cabin which had no running water or electricity.
Israel’s family had Chevie Kehoe and his family as neighbors. Chevie was convicted of three murders in 1996.
As a kid, Israel attended the Ark, with his family. It was a church that taught Christian Identity values (associated with anti-Semitism). They also attended the Christian Covenant Church.
Israel abandoned Christianity in his teens. Later, he started believing in Satanism. He also lived in Neah Bay’s Makah Reservation community on the Olympic Peninsula.
Israel Keyes joined the U.S. Army on July 9, 1998, in Albany, New York. He majorly worked at Fort Lewis, at Fort Hood, and in Egypt.
At Fort Lewis, Israel was part of a mortar team of the 1st Battalion of the 25th Infantry Division, 5th Infantry Regiment. On July 8, 2001, He was discharged as a rank specialist from Fort Lewis.
Israel was also decorated with quite a few army honors, such as the Army Achievement Medal, the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Expert Infantryman Badge.
Israel Keyes began a construction business named Keyes Construction in Alaska in 2007. It is believed that the business was just a shield to hide his crimes. He meant to set up base in Alaska, as that made traveling to other places in the U.S. to commit crimes easier for him.
In fact, he had been associated with crimes earlier, too. He had admitted to raping a teenaged girl in Oregon in 1996. He had started looking for probable murder victims back in 2004. He had also begun burying money, weapons, and other resources required to kill his victims and get rid of their bodies. His trips were funded by his frequent bank robberies.
He would usually fly to some other part of the country, rent a car, and drive for miles to locate his victims. He would then bury his murder kits somewhere near his chosen spot. Such kits were later located in Alaska and New York, but he later stated he had buried similar kits in Washington, Wyoming, Texas, and Arizona, too.
He would usually target his victims in remote areas such as parks, walking trails, or boating areas. He would also attack homes with garage areas, no cars around, no children, and no pets.
On February 2, 2012, Israel abducted an 18-year-old lady named Samantha Koenig. Samantha worked as a barista at a coffee shop in Anchorage.
The kidnapping was caught on a CCTV camera, and the authorities conducted a search operation for her.
However, it was later found out that Israel had dragged her to a shed at his home in Anchorage, raped her, and killed her by strangling her. He then left the spot, leaving Samantha’s body in the shed, and went to New Orleans, where he enjoyed a 2-week cruise to the Gulf of Mexico with his family.
Later, he got back and dismembered her body. He reportedly applied makeup on the corpse, sewed her eyes open, and clicked a photo of the body with a local newspaper kept beside her (to make it look like she was alive). He then demanded a ransom of $30,000 and dumped Samantha’s remains in Matanuska Lake.
This was the murder that eventually got him arrested. However, Israel later confessed to murdering four people in three separate incidents in Washington state. His crimes included the abduction and killings of a couple, Bill and Lorraine Currier.
On June 2, 2011, Israel had had flown to Chicago, rented a vehicle, and driven about 1,000 miles to Essex, Vermont. He had then attacked the home of Bill and Lorraine Currier, abducted them, tied them up, and carried them to an abandoned house.
He had first shot Bill to death. He had then raped Lorraine and strangled her to death. The bodies of the Currier couple were never found.
He had also murdered another person on the East Coast and had buried the body in New York. He did not reveal much about this case.
On March 13, 2012, Israel Keyes was arrested by the police in the parking area of the Cotton Patch Café in Lufkin, Texas. His car had apparently been filmed by an ATM camera while he used Samantha Koenig’s debit card to withdraw money.
He was extradited from Texas to Anchorage after being charged with fraud. On April 2, 2012, Samantha’s body was located in the lake. On April 18, Israel was indicted for the abduction and killing of Samantha Koenig. He later confessed to the murder. Israel was represented by Alaska-based defender Rich Curtner. During Israel’s 40-hour interview with the FBI, he reportedly confessed to seven more murders (taking the total to eight). He also referred to (vaguely) a few other murders throughout the interview.
Police later learned that Isarel owned about 10 acres of land and a cabin Constable. Israel also said he had robbed banks in New York and Texas. He admitted to the murder of a woman in April 2009 in New Jersey. He said he had buried the body in New York.
The FBI confirmed that in April 2009, he had robbed the Community Bank branch located in Tupper Lake, New York. He had also broken into a home in Texas and had set it on fire after robbing it.
The FBI also claimed that Israel had robbed about 20 to 30 homes in the U.S. and quite a few banks between 2001 and 2012. He was later associated with at least 11 murders in the U.S., but the actual number could be more.
The police also realized that Israel had mostly kept his mobile phone switched off during his murder trips and had also paid in cash.
Israel reportedly idolized serial killer Ted Bundy. Israel loved to kill and had no motive behind his murders. However, unlike Ted, he did not exclusively kill people he found attractive.
When Israel Keyes was in military service in Fort Lewis, he had met a woman and had had a daughter with her. He lived with the woman and his daughter for about 6 years. He later broke up with his girlfriend and started dating another woman.
In 2007, Israel moved to Anchorage with his daughter and his new girlfriend.
His co-workers remembered him as a doting father who would brag about his daughter.
Israel’s trial was supposed to begin in March 2013. On December 2, 2012, Israel committed suicide by cutting his wrists and strangling himself with a bedsheet in his prison cell at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, while awaiting trial. He was 34 at the time of his death.
A suicide note was found beneath his body. It was a four-page note written in both ink and pencil, on a yellow piece of paper. The note could not be deciphered until it was examined at the FBI forensic laboratory.
The police concluded that the letter revealed no evidence or clues, but was more of an ode to his murders.
In 2020, the FBI released the sketches of 11 skulls and a pentagram, which Israel had drawn in blood beneath his jail bed. The FBI stated they believed the number 11 signified the number of his victims.
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