On December 2, 2012 officers in an Anchorage, Alaska jail found confessed serial murderer Israel Keyes, 34, dead in his cell. He had committed suicide, apparently by first slashing his wrists and then strangling himself.
His suicide brought an end to a criminal career that had included rape, burglary and bank robbery as well as murder. However, it left many questions about his crimes unanswered.
Israel Keyes (he was apparently not given a middle name) was born on January 7, 1978 in Richmond, Utah. The first child of a married couple, he would eventually have nine siblings. His parents were members of the Mormon Church during his early years and Israel was home-schooled.
He was still a child when the Keyes family moved to a rural area north of Colville, Washington. The family appears to have left Mormonism. They occasionally attended a church of Christian Identity, a tiny denomination preaching white separatist and anti-Semitic doctrines.
Keyes joined the United States Army in 1998. He served at Fort Lewis and Fort Hood and in Egypt. While at Fort Lewis in 2001 he pled guilty to a DUI. He received an “Army Achievement Medal,” but was never in combat. He was honorably discharged in 2001.
Lanky and athletic, Keyes ran a marathon in Olympia, Washington in 2007. He performed carpentry work for an American Indian tribe in Washington before relocating to Anchorage in late 2007. He also founded Keyes Construction, a contracting firm of which he appears to have been both boss and sole employee.
His criminal career may have begun while he was in the military. According to Keyes, he raped a female in the late 1990s, but did not murder her. She may have been as young as 14 at the time of the assault. He said the murders started sometime after this attack.
In January 2002, Keyes was cited for driving with a suspended license in Washington State.
In order to avoid detection, he often traveled far from home to murder. He financed his travels through Keyes Construction and through thefts including bank robberies. In April 2009, he robbed a Community Bank branch in Tupper Lake, New York. He brandished a handgun, but no one was harmed in the hold-up.
Keyes was an especially methodical and organized murderer. In 2011, he boarded a plane that took him from the West Coast to Chicago. There, he rented a car and drove 1,000 miles to Vermont.
During this and similar trips, he turned off his cell phone and paid with cash to avoid leaving clues. He also buried what he described as “murder kits” in various spots. These kits included weapons and items such as Drano to hasten a corpse’s decomposition.
In the town of Essex, Keyes selected a couple at random to victimize. They were Bill Currier, 50, and Lorraine Currier, 55. He chose them in part because their house had an attached garage and because they appeared to have neither child nor dog.
Just before attacking the Curriers, Keyes retrieved a box filled with murder tools that he had buried in Vermont in 2009.
In the evening of June 8, 2011, Keyes cut the phone lines of the Currier house. Then he used a crowbar from the Currier garage to smash a window. Wearing a headlamp, Keyes ran into the main bedroom. He tied the Curriers with zip ties and demanded to know if they had a gun. They admitted they had a .38 Ruger. Keyes took that weapon. He forced the couple into their own car and drove them to an abandoned farmhouse that Keyes had previously scouted out.
Leaving Lorraine in the car, Keyes forced Bill to go to the farmhouse basement. Keyes tied him to a stool. Returning to the car, Keyes saw that Lorraine had gotten out of the car and was running. He tackled her and took her to the second floor of the farmhouse and left her bound.
Keyes went to the basement where Bill shrieked, “Where’s my wife?” Keyes struck him with a shovel and then shot him.
Keyes returned to the second floor, raped Lorraine, and then took her down to the basement where he strangled her. He put the Curriers in separate garbage bags. What he did with the bodies after that is unclear and their bodies have not been recovered.
Vermont Chittendon County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan commented, “They fought to the end” and observed that the Curriers demonstrated “extraordinary bravery and love for each other.”
After murdering the couple, he buried the Currier handgun together with the original “murder kit” in a wooded area close to Vermont’s Winooski River.