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Nancy Grace

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Authorities: Man killed Alaska teen, then went on cruise

  • New details in abduction, murder of Samantha Koenig
  • Investigators: Teen showed 'courage and resolve' in final hours, killer went on cruise after murder
  • Israel Keyes reportedly confessed to killing Koenig and 7 others before committing suicide
Authorities: Man killed Alaska teen, then went on cruise

Days after a man who authorities say was a confessed serial killer apparently committed suicide in his jail cell, investigators have released the most detailed account yet of what is believed to have happened to his final victim.

Samantha Koenig, 18, was abducted around 8:00 p.m. on February 1 from the coffee stand where she worked in Anchorage, Alaska. Two months later, her remains were found in Matanuska Lake.

Israel Keyes was arrested in Texas in March and was later charged in connection with Koenig’s murder. After being extradited to Alaska, he remained in custody in Anchorage awaiting trial until he was found dead in his cell on Sunday morning.

Authorities believe Keyes cut his wrist with a disposable razor and strangled himself with his bedding material, KTUU reported. The primary cause of his death has not yet been determined, and the incident is under investigation.

According to the FBI, Keyes had admitted to killing Koenig and seven other people around the country since 2001.

In a joint statement, the FBI, the Anchorage Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed new information about Koenig’s death and the actions Keyes took afterward. They have also released surveillance video of Koenig’s abduction.

“These details are being provided both to fully explain the courage and resolve Samantha displayed in the final hours of her life, as well as in the hopes that the release of additional details will help investigators of other murders committed by Israel Keyes,” the law enforcement agencies said.

According to the statement:

Keyes abducted Koenig from the coffee stand at gunpoint, tied her hands and then forced her out into the street. Koenig tried to run, but Keyes chased her and tackled her, threatening to kill her. He then walked her to his white truck, from which he had removed the license plates, and put her inside.

While driving, Keyes told Koenig he intended to hold her for ransom. She said her family did not have much money, but he insisted they would raise money with the public’s help to pay him.

Keyes’ plan involved sending a text message from Koenig’s cell phone to demand the ransom, but he soon realized that she did not have it with her. He returned to the coffee stand and left her in the truck while he went inside to get her phone. He sent two text messages pretending to be her, saying she was going out of town for the weekend, before he removed the battery.

Keyes also wanted Koenig’s ATM card, but she said it was at her house in a truck she shared with her boyfriend. Keyes brought Koenig to his home and put her in a shed outside, turning up a radio so nobody would hear her scream for help.

He then went to Koenig’s house to steal the ATM card from the vehicle. At that time, Koenig’s boyfriend saw Keyes and confronted him, but he fled when the boyfriend went to get help.

Keyes returned to his house, sexually assaulted Koenig and asphyxiated her. He kept her body in the shed while he left for a previously-scheduled cruise on the morning of February 2.

When he returned from the cruise on February 17, he set up Koenig’s body, “taking steps to make it appear that she was still alive,” and took a picture of her. He copied the photo and then used a manual typewriter to write a demand for $30,000 on the back, asking that the money be placed in the account associated with Koenig’s ATM card.

He left the ransom note in a park and texted Koenig’s boyfriend from her phone to tell him where it was. At some point after that, he dismembered Koenig’s body, drove to Matanuska Lake, cut a hole in the ice and put the body in the water.

Samantha’s father deposited reward money that had been donated by the public into the bank account, and authorities hoped to catch her abductor by tracing his ATM withdrawals. They determined that a person driving a white Ford Focus made withdrawals in Anchorage, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

In March, a Texas Highway Patrol officer pulled over a Ford Focus matching that vehicle description and Keyes was inside. Investigators found Koenig’s cell phone in the truck and her ATM card in Keyes’ wallet.

An attorney who had been representing Keyes prior to his death declined to comment on the new information released by authorities.

The FBI has requested the public’s assistance in determining whether Keyes was responsible for even more murders than he admitted to. They have released an extensive timeline of his travels around the country between 2001 and 2012 and they are asking anyone with information about him to contact 1-800-CALL-FBI.  

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