Trying to unlock secrets of dead serial killer
On Feb. 2, Keyes raped and strangled Koenig. He left her in that shed, flew to Houston and embarked on a cruise, returning about two weeks later.
He then took a photo of Koenig’s body holding a Feb. 13 newspaper to make it appear she was alive. Keyes wrote a ransom note on the back, demanding $30,000 be placed in her account. He texted a message, directing the family to a dog park where the note could be found. Her family deposited some money from a reward fund.
On Feb. 29, Keyes withdrew $500 in ransom money from an Anchorage ATM, using a debit card stolen from Koenig’s boyfriend (the two shared an account). The next day, $500 more was retrieved from another ATM.
Then on March 7, far away in Willcox, Ariz., Keyes withdrew $400. He traveled to Lordsburg, N.M., and took out $80. Two days later, a withdrawal of $480 in Humble, Texas. On March 11, the same amount from an ATM in Shepherd, Texas.
By then, authorities had a blurry ATM photo and a pattern: Keyes was driving along route I-10 in a rented white Ford Focus. On March 13, nearly 3,200 miles from Anchorage, police in Lufkin, Texas, pounced when they spotted Keyes driving 3 mph above the speed limit.
Inside his car was an incriminating stash: Rolls of cash in rubber bands. A piece of a gray T-shirt cut out to make a face mask. A highlighted map with routes through California, Arizona and New Mexico. The stolen debit card. And Samantha Koenig’s phone.
Monique Doll, the lead Anchorage police investigator in the Koenig case, and her partner, Jeff Bell, rushed to Texas for a crack at Keyes.
Doll showed Keyes the ransom note.
‘‘I told him that the first couple of times that I read the ransom I thought that whoever wrote the note was a monster and the more I read it —it must have been 100 times — the more I came to understand that monsters aren’t born but are created and that this person had a story to tell.’’
Keyes’ response, she says, was firm: ‘‘I can’t help you.’’
Two weeks later in custody back in Alaska, he changed his mind.
He told another investigator, Doll says, to relay a message: ‘‘Tell her she’s got her monster.’’
To Monique Doll, Keyes was a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde personality, but she saw only the diabolical side.
‘‘We knew him as a serial killer,’’ she says. ‘‘That’s how he spoke to us. We didn’t know ... the father, the hard-working business owner.’’
Keyes warned investigators that others might mischaracterize him.
‘‘There is no one who knows me — or who has ever known me — who knows anything about me really. ... They’re going to tell you something that does not line up with anything I tell you because I'm two different people basically...,’’ he says in one snippet released by the FBI.
‘‘How long have you been two different people?’’ asks Russo, one of the prosecutors.
Keyes laughs. ‘‘(A) long time. Fourteen years.’’
Authorities suspect Keyes started killing more than 10 years ago after completing a three-year stint in the Army at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.
Sean McGuire, who shared a barracks with Keyes, says they developed a camaraderie while spending some time together during grueling training in Egypt. But he says he was disturbed by a dark side that sometimes surfaced. When Keyes was offended by his buddy’s comments, he'd drop his head, McGuire recalls, knit his brow, lower his voice and say, ‘‘'I want to kill you, McGuire.'’’
Keyes, the second eldest in a large family, was homeschooled in a cabin without electricity near Colville, Wash., in a mountainous, sparsely populated area. The family moved in the 1990s to Smyrna, Maine, where they were involved in the maple syrup business, according to a neighbor who remembered Keyes as a nice, courteous young man.
After leaving the Army, Keyes worked for the Makah Indian tribe in Washington, then moved to Anchorage in 2007 after his girlfriend found work here. A self-employed carpenter and handyman, he was considered competent, honest and efficient.
‘‘I never got any bad, weird, scary, odd vibe from him in any way, shape or form,’’ says Paul Adelman, an Anchorage attorney who first hired Keyes as a handyman in 2008.
Keyes’ live-in girlfriend also was floored to learn of his double life, according to David Kanters, her friend. ‘‘He had everyone fooled,’’ Kanters told The Associated Press in an email. ‘‘THAT is the scary part. He came across as a nice normal guy.’’ (She did not respond to numerous requests for comment.)
Keyes blended in easily. ‘‘He was not only very intelligent,’’ Doll says. ‘‘He was very adaptable and he had a lot of self-control. Those three things combined made him extraordinarily difficult to catch.’’Continued...