Next up on our wrongful death serial series, we’re going to be covering an American serial killer by the name of Israel Keyes.
Upbringing and Childhood
Keyes was born in Richmond, Utah in 1978 and was homeschooled throughout his childhood. However, he didn’t grow up in the Beehive State, his family moved to the Aladdin Road area, north of Colville, Washington. There, they became neighbors with Chevie Kehoe, who was a convicted murderer and white supremacist. Keyes family occasionally attended services at “Our Place Fellowship” (otherwise known as “the Ark”), a local church that supported the white supremacist Theology.
Keyes served in the United States Army from 1998 to 2001, working on a mortar team. He was stationed at Fort Lewis, Fort Hood and even Egypt, serving in the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry and 25th Infantry Division. According to military records, Keyes enlisted into the army on July 9th of 1998 while in Albany, New York and was discharged from Fort Lewis on July 2001 with the rank of “Specialist.” Keyes was awarded various awards during his time in the military, from the Army Achievement Medal to the Army Service Ribbon, he was highly decorated.
Former friends of Keyes often described him as quiet and someone who usually kept to himself. However, they also reported that Keyes would drink heavily on weekends, consuming entire bottles of his favorite liquor.
After the Military, Murders and Capture
In 2007, Keyes started a construction Business in Alaska which he called, “Keyes Construction.” He worked as a handyman, making an honest living up until 2012. On February 1st of 2012, Keyes had kidnapped a young woman by the name of Samantha Koeing while at a coffee booth. After the initial kidnapping, he took her debit card, sexually assaulted her, murdered her and left her body in his shed. He then took a two-week cruise out of New Orleans.
After his return, he snapped a picture of Samantha next to the daily newspaper, posing her to look as if she was still alive. He demanded $30,000 in ransom money to be deposited into Samantha’s account, and he proceeded to dismember the body and dispose of it in a lake.
He continued to use Samantha’s account, covering his face every time he withdrew money as to not be recognized.
When the FBI began to notice the same car in the background of all his transactions, they were quick to act and arrested him. While in custody, he confessed to killing Samantha along with “many” others (four people in Washington, a couple in Vermont and one person in New York). He told investigators that he would hide “murder kits” in different places across the states, returning to them when he was ready to use the kit.
While most killers had a particular taste in victims, Keyes would choose at complete random, mostly based on convenience.
Before police could get more information about other possible victims, Keyes was found dead in his cell after suffering self-inflicted wrist cuts and strangulation. He left a suicide note that consisted of an “Ode to murder” but did not offer any clues that could help identify other wrongful death victims.
As far as lawsuits go, no families of the deceased have filed a wrongful death case against Keye’s estate. If you want to learn more about wrongful death and serial killers, take a look at the murderers that we have covered in our wrongful death serial series.