Sunday 15 January 2017

American Monsters Volume 11

12 Shocking True Crime Stories of America’s Worst Serial Killers;

Israel Keyes: A ruthless killer who is considered by the FBI to be the most meticulous serial murderer in history.

The Original Night Stalker: Home invading psychopath who committed at least 12 murders in California in the 70s and 80s. He has never been caught.

Efren Saldivar: A respiratory therapist who took to murdering his elderly patients and may have been responsible for over 100 deaths.

David Maust: Deeply disturbed slayer of teenaged boys. Maust is believed to be responsible for at least five deaths.

Lyda Trueblood: A prolific Black Widow who dispatched five husbands and lovers to an early grave with her trusty vial of arsenic.

Lonnie Franklin Jr.: Known as ‘The Grim Sleeper’ due to the long periods of inactivity between his crimes, Franklin has only recently been convicted.

Charles Manson: Considered a messiah by his hippy followers, Manson inspired a series of bloody massacres that shook America to its core.

Jeremy Bryan Jones: A traveling sex slayer who may have murdered as many as 23 young women during a decade long orgy of death.

Gary & Thaddeus Lewingdon: Murderous siblings who went on a shooting spree in Columbus, Ohio, claiming ten victims.

Anjette Lyles: She may have run the most popular restaurant in Macon, Georgia, but the bubbly hostess was feeding something far less palatable to her family.

Stephen Nash: A man with a deep-seated hatred against humanity, Nash massacred anyone who crossed his path, racking up a toll of at least eight victims.

Faryion Wardrip: He was considered a pillar of the community in Wichita Falls, Texas – until DNA evidence exposed him as a brutal serial killer.

Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of

American Monsters Volume11

Israel Keyes

“You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve got to drink every day to forget these things.” – Israel Keyes

Serial murders are on the decline in the United States. From their peak in the 1970s and 1980s, the so-called “Golden Age of Serial Killers,” there has been a steady drop in the number of such crimes. During the 80s for example, there were an estimated 200 serial killers at large in the United States. By the first decade of the 21st century, the number was less than half that.

Why there should be such a dramatic falling off is down to a number of factors. Firstly law enforcement officials, in particular the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit have developed a much better understanding of serial killer methodology, psychology and modes of operation. It is therefore more likely that a serial killer will be caught early in his career, rather than going on to commit multiple murders. The second factor is perhaps even more important. Unlike in the past, data is now shared freely among law enforcement agencies, eliminating so-called “linkage blindness,” which was such a bane to homicide investigators in the past. Powerful computer databases now enable lawmen to “connect the dots” faster, leading to quicker detection. Lastly, there have been massive advances in forensic science, chief amongst these the advent of DNA technology as a detection device.

These innovations (and others) have had a significant impact on the effectiveness of detection methods, swinging the advantage firmly in favor of the police. Indeed, it would take an especially talented criminal to get away with serial murder these days. But such killers are still out there. One of their number was a man named Israel Keyes.

Israel Keyes was born to Mormon parents in Richmond, Utah on January 7, 1978. The firstborn in his family, he would eventually have nine siblings, all of who would be raised in a strict Christian household. As a child he was home schooled and was a regular attendee at church. However after the family moved to a rural area north of Colville, Washington, they abandoned Mormonism and began attending Christian Identity, a denomination that preached white supremacy. By then Israel was already disenchanted with the Christian faith. He was also secretly indulging in a practice common to serial killers, carrying out acts of cruelty against animals.

Keyes grew up to be lanky and athletic, excelling in distance running. After graduating high school he joined the United States Army in 1998, serving at Fort Lewis and Fort Hood. He also did a tour of duty abroad in Egypt, before being honorably discharged in 2001. After that he set himself up as a carpenter, doing work for a Native American tribe in Washington State. In 2007 Keyes relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, where he founded Keyes Construction, a contracting firm of which he was the sole employee. Keyes was a skilled handyman with an eye for detail and a perfectionist nature. It wasn’t long before he’d gained a solid reputation and was inundated with work.

But that was only one side to Israel Keyes, the face he showed to the public. Behind that persona another lurked, malevolent and manipulative. Keyes was already well into a criminal career that dated back to his career in the military. Back then he’d committed a rape on a 14-year-old girl, after he’d lured her away from her friends at a camping spot on the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon. That attack went unreported until Keyes confessed to it many years later. He said that his intention had been to kill the girl, but that he’d lost his nerve and let her go. His appetite for killing had been whetted though. Shortly after, he began planning his first murder. 

Keyes was a remarkably organized killer, one who several experts have labeled “the most meticulous serial killer who ever lived.” He traveled thousands of miles from his home to commit his crimes, always financing his travels through Keyes Construction in order to avoid detection. He always turned off his cell phone during these trips, paid cash for purchases and carried no incriminating evidence. This was made possible by his habit of hiding “murder kits” and “body disposal kits” at various locations around the country. Four such stashes would later be recovered, containing weapons and items such as shovels and canisters of Drano, which he used to hasten decomposition of his victims. One such package was hidden outside the town of Essex, Vermont in 2009. In June 2011 Keyes returned to the area, intent on using it.    

Keyes had no idea who he planned on killing in Vermont, but there can be little doubt that murder was the sole purpose of his trip. Why else would he have flown into Chicago and then hired a car to drive over 1,000 miles to Essex, a town to which he had no connection? Why else did he spend his first few days in Essex scouting various locations before honing in on one particular home? Bill Currier, 50, and his wife Lorraine, 55, were chosen for no other reason than their house was conveniently located and had an attached garage and no dog. 

On the evening of June 8, 2011, Keyes cut the phone lines to the Currier residence. Then he used a crowbar to break a window and enter the home. Aware that the sleeping couple had probably been woken by the noise, Keyes dashed towards the main bedroom using a headlamp to guide his way through the dark. He caught the Curriers just rousing from sleep and subdued them at gunpoint. Then he bound them with zip ties and hustled them into their own car. Their destination was an abandoned farmhouse that Keyes had previously scouted out.

Leaving Lorraine Currier in the vehicle, Keyes marched her husband at gunpoint to the farmhouse basement. There he tied Bill to a stool before returning to the car for Lorraine. She however had managed to escape and was running towards the cover of some trees. Keyes tackled her to the ground before she made it. He dragged her back to the farmhouse, leaving her bound on the floor while he returned to the basement. 

“Where’s my wife?” Bill demanded as Keyes entered. The killer’s response was to club him with the sharp end of the shovel and then shoot him. He then returned to the frantic Lorraine and raped her before forcing her down to the basement to view her husband’s dead body. Lorraine Currier was strangled to death. Thereafter Keyes dismembered and disposed of the bodies before driving to Chicago for his flight home. The Curriers have never been found.

Bill and Lorraine Currier were not the first victims of the serial killer Israel Keyes. But Keyes was so skilled at concealing his crimes that despite linking him to as many as 12 murders across the nation, not a shred of evidence exists to support an arrest. We only know about the Currier murders because Keyes was so willing to share information with investigators after his arrest. Like most of his ilk, he could not resist boasting about his nefarious deeds. It is surprising therefore, that the murder which led to his arrest was so clumsily carried out.  

At around 8 p.m. on February 1, 2012, 18-year-old Samantha Koenig was closing up her coffee concession stand in midtown Anchorage when a masked man shoved a gun into her face. The man forced her to turn around and then bound her hands with zip ties. As he tightened the plastic tie, Samantha sensed an opportunity and made a desperate dash for freedom. But with her hands behind her, she was unable to gain much momentum and her attacker Israel Keyes, soon hauled her in and tackled her to the ground. Thereafter he dragged her to a waiting car. She was never seen alive again.

Samantha Koenig’s disappearance received massive media coverage in Alaska, with her mother appearing on television to beg for her safe return. In addition friends and family plastered the city with missing person posters and offered a reward for information. On the evening of February 11, a candlelight vigil was held for her at Anchorage’s Delaney Park. All of this unfortunately was to no avail. Samantha was already dead.

After kidnapping the unfortunate teenager, Keyes had driven her back to his residence in an upmarket Anchorage neighborhood. There he tortured Samantha into revealing the PIN of her debit card. Once he had it, he raped and then strangled her. He then departed for Texas, leaving Samantha’s corpse in a shed on his property.

Over the week that followed Keyes played a sick game with Samantha’s family, using her cell phone to send text messages trying to convince them that she was still alive. On his return to Alaska on February 17, he posed Samantha’s corpse (still well preserved because of the cold weather) and photographed it. He sent that picture with a text message to Samantha’s family demanding a ransom. Immediately after he began dismembering the corpse. Samantha’s brutalized remains would be sunk to the bottom of Matanuska Lake.

But by now Israel Keyes, that meticulous purveyor of horrific death was unraveling. Perhaps that is why he broke every rule in his personal murder handbook in committing the Koenig murder; perhaps that is why he continued to use her debit card after he must have known that it had been flagged by the authorities.

Using the stolen card, Keyes traveled first to New Orleans where he went on a weeklong cruise. Then he moved on to Texas to attend a family wedding. There, with tear-filled eyes he told a sister-in-law, “You don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve got to drink every day to forget these things.”

On March 13, 2012, Keyes was driving a rented car just outside of Lufkin, Texas when he was pulled over by a highway patrolman. The reason for the stop was simple. Keyes’ rented Ford Focus had been spotted on surveillance footage near an ATM where money had been drawn from Samantha Koenig’s debit card. A search of the vehicle turned up the stolen card as well as Samantha’s cell phone.

Keyes was extradited to Alaska where he was charged with kidnapping and murder. Investigators had by now built up a substantial body of evidence against him, including surveillance footage that showed a man walking Samantha Koenig across the Home Depot parking lot towards a white pickup truck. Although the man in the video was masked, Keyes admitted that it was him. He went on to describe with great relish what he’d done to Samantha.

Based on information provided by Keyes, Samantha Koenig’s corpse was recovered from Matanuska Lake on April 2, 2012. Hers was the only body of a Keyes murder victim to ever be recovered. In fact the police had no evidence in any of the other murders committed by Keyes, even if he did eventually confess to killing Bill and Lorraine Currier. He also admitted to four other murders in Washington State and one in New York State. “Why?” one of the investigators wanted to know, “Why not?” was Keyes’ curt reply.

In May 2012 Keyes was brought to a courtroom in Anchorage for arraignment. There he managed to wiggle out of his leg irons and like his hero Ted Bundy, made a desperate dash for freedom. Unlike Bundy, Keyes did not make it very far. He was tasered by a court officer and quickly subdued.

But despite his thwarted escape attempt, Israel Keyes was determined that he would never stand trial for his crimes. On December 2, 2012, officers at an Anchorage jail found him dead in his cell. He had committed suicide by slashing his wrists and then strangling himself with a bedsheet.

The death of Israel Keyes brought to an end a criminal career that had included rape, burglary and bank robbery, as well as murder. It had also highlighted to authorities the emergence of a terrifying new breed of serial killer, one who was able to achieve his deadly goals despite all the technological advantage in the investigators’ armory. But for his recklessly executed final murder, Israel Keyes would likely still be out there, still killing.

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