ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Authorities deduced from hours of interviews with an Alaska serial killer that he may have killed close to a dozen people, and that he killed for pleasure and was only conflicted about how his notoriety would affect the ones he loved.
Israel Keyes confessed to killing eight people before he committed suicide last weekend in an Anchorage jail, but FBI and Anchorage Police Department investigators said Friday they think he may have had up to three additional victims.
“Based on some of the things he told us, and some of the conversations we had with him, we believe the number is less than 12,” FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden said. “We don’t know for sure. He’s the only one who could have ultimately answered that.”
Keyes slit his wrist and strangled himself with bedding Sunday at the Anchorage Correctional Facility. He was facing federal murder charges in the kidnapping and death of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from an Anchorage coffee stand Feb. 1.
Goeden and Anchorage Police officer Jeff Bell conducted up to 40 hours of interviews with Keyes after his March arrest in Texas. During that time, Keyes confessed to killing Koenig, along with Bill and Lorraine Currier in Vermont, and five other people — although details for those victims were scarce.
The interviews also revealed Keyes’ motivation, which was simple, Goeden and Bell told The Associated Press.
“He enjoyed it. He liked what he was doing,” Goeden said. “He talked about getting a rush out of it, the adrenalin: the excitement out of it.”
Keyes also liked seeing coverage of his crimes in the media and he appeared to enjoy talking about some of the killings with investigators, Goeden and Bell said.
Keyes’ crimes started small with burglaries and thefts — until the urge escalated to murder.
Bell said Keyes told them the first violent crime he committed was a sexual assault in Oregon, in which he let the victim go.
“He planned on killing her but didn’t,” Bell said.
Keyes said the rape occurred sometime between 1996 and 1998 along the Deshutes River near Maupin, Ore., after he got the girl away from her friends. The girl was between the ages of 14 and 18, and would be in her late 20s or 30s now. No police reports were filed, and the FBI is seeking more information the crime.
Of the five other murders Keyes confessed to, four were in Washington state and one occurred on the East Coast, with the body disposed of in New York.
Those deaths garnered little media attention, Keyes’ crimes started getting noticed when he killed the Curriers.
Authorities say Keyes flew from Alaska to Chicago on June 2, 2011, rented a car and drove almost 1,000 miles to Vermont. There he carried out a “blitz” style attack on Curriers’ home, bound the couple and took them to an abounded house. Bill Currier was shot, and his wife was sexually assaulted and strangled.
Keyes immediately returned to Alaska, and followed the case on his computer by monitoring Vermont media. The couple’s bodies were never found after the house was demolished and taken to a landfill.
Leaving the area shortly after a murder was a familiar tactic for Keyes. After he abducted Koenig Feb. 1 from the coffee stand, he took her to a shed at his Anchorage home and sexually assaulted her before strangling her.
Keyes left Feb. 2 for a two-week cruise, storing her body in the shed. Upon his return, he dismembered the body and disposed of it in a lake north of Anchorage. He was later arrested in Texas after using Koenig’s debit card.
Koenig was his only known victim in Alaska. Goeden and Bell said he never explained why he broke his own rule of never killing anyone in the town where he lived because it’s easier to be connected to such a killing.
The only mistake Keyes said he made was letting his rental car be photographed by an ATM when withdrawing money in Texas.
Unlike his earlier killings, the deaths of the Curriers and Koenig were very much in the spotlight.
“He was feeding off the media attention in the end,” Bell said.
That wasn’t the only change. His time between murders was growing shorter.
“He talked about that time period in between crimes, that over the last few years, that became quicker,” Goeden said.
During their interviews, Keyes was willing to talk about the Koenig and Currier killings since he knew they had evidence against him.
“It was chilling to listen to him. He was clearly reliving it to a degree, and I think he enjoyed talking about it,” Bell said of Keyes recounting the Koenig and Currier killings. But in the other cases, Keyes wasn’t as forthcoming because he knew investigators didn’t have a lot on them.
Keyes, a construction contractor, told investigators that they knew him better than anyone, and that this was the first time he had ever spoken about what he called his double life.
“A couple of times, he would kind of chuckle, tell us how weird it was to be talking about this,” Bell said.
Even though he was talking to investigators, he didn’t want his name made public in any of the other investigations, especially the Curriers, because of the fallout of publicity. He threatened to withhold information if his name got out
“If there was nobody else that he was concerned about, I think he wanted his story out there. He wanted people to know what he did,” Goeden said.
“What he was worried about is the impact that was going to have on the people that cared about him and were close to him,” she said.