ANCHORAGE – A variety of both state and federal charges are under consideration for Israel Keyes, the man Anchorage police believe kidnapped and killed an 18-year-old barista the evening of February 1.
After a nearly two-month search, a forensic dive team found what they believe to be the body of Samantha Koenig Monday under the ice at Matanuska Lake. Security camera footage shows Koenig was abducted by a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt from her work at Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand around 8:30 p.m. on the first of February, and Anchorage police said they believe she was killed hours after she was taken.
While the surveillance video footage of the kidnapping was never released publicly and a Freedom of Information Act request from KTVA for the video was denied, police said it depicted a clearly frightened Koenig and contained important evidentiary information.
On March 13, Texas Rangers and highway patrol officers arrested 34-year-old Keyes in Lufkin, Texas in connection with Koenig’s kidnapping. The self-employed Anchorage contractor was charged with access device fraud after law enforcement officers discovered a stolen Visa debit card and rolls of cash in his possession, and an FBI affidavit states he became “increasingly confrontational” when questioned about his whereabouts.
The affidavit went on to detail the fraud investigation against Keyes, which surrounded the withdrawal of roughly $2,400 from a Credit Union 1 account between February 28 and March 12. While the transactions began in Anchorage, they later began popping up on ATMs in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A man identified only as “Person A” had reported the card stolen early February 2, just hours after Koenig was abducted. Her father, James Koenig, denied the card belonged to him.
Hours after Keyes was arrested in East Texas, Anchorage police raided his Turnagain home, and later said they believed he was directly involved in Koenig’s abduction. Keyes arrived in Anchorage in the custody of U.S. Marshals on March 26, and awaits trial at the Anchorage Correctional Complex after pleading not guilty to the federal fraud charge. It won’t be the only one he faces.
In a brief, scripted press conference Monday, Anchorage police Chief Mark Mew said his department believes Koenig’s killer acted alone and is in custody: Lieutenant Dave Parker today confirmed they’re building a homicide and kidnapping case against Keyes. Parker said it could include an array of both federal and state level charges, but until they’re brought forward in court, details surrounding the events of February 1 will be sparse.
While Mew said the Anchorage Police Department is working with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring charges against Keyes, Parker said the documents surrounding the investigation are sealed until that time. Detectives could not comment on what led them to Matanuska Lake Monday, why the FBI removed a white storage shed from Keyes’ driveway the evening of March 30, or whether Keyes is cooperating with investigative efforts.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday to confirm the identity of the body, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Mary Rook said there were still many questions left to be investigated. She said there was no apparent connection between Keyes and Koenig or any member of her family.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies continue to ask for public help in identifying the whereabouts of Keyes’ white pickup truck after February 1. Anchorage police could not comment on when they believe Koenig’s body was taken to the Matanuska Lake, but specifically asked to hear from anyone who may have seen the truck there in the weeks following the abduction.
“People can draw their own conclusions,” Parker said.