Apex Predator:

The Double Life of Israel Keyes | The Kill Kit Killer

Sheena Monster
10 min readJun 20, 2022
Skulls drawn in Israel Keyes’ blood, courtesy of cbsnews.com

“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.” — Israel Keyes ³

Death Wish on Trend

True crime is becoming an incredibly trendy genre these days, but what we legitimately know about serial killers is minimal at best. There are categories, of course, with limitless variations. One proposed definition claims, “[s]exually motivated serial murder is the killing of three or more victims over more than 30 days, with a significant cooling-off period. The sexual nature of the crime, which may — or may not — be explicit, is perverse and sadistic and reflects an aggression that is particularly destructive, pathological, and rooted in violent fantasies that are acted out on the victim.” It is also often accepted that their victim pool most frequently falls within their own ethnic background and tends to have easily identifiable similarities and that the killer’s hunting and dumping grounds are close to their place of residence. They are predictable. We know what we know because they have told us. They have shown us with a sort of proud indignance. They cannot help themselves.

Israel Keyes represents an exceedingly dangerous type of predator in that he did not fit into this cookie-cutter box of predictability. Not only was he a meticulous ‘transient’ serial killer ², but he was also confident that his vicarious apprenticeship with Ted Bundy could save him from himself. His victims were opportunistic. Finding excuses and reasons to travel everywhere, Keyes chose murder sites long before he chose his victims. The blood lust eventually overwhelmed his sense of self-preservation, of course. That is when he broke his own golden rule: no connections.

Keyes robbing a bank in Texas wearing hair other than his own, photo courtesy of weatherforddemocrat.com

Respectfully, There were others

For noble and obvious reasons, there is a great deal of focus on the case that got him caught. What he did to Samantha Koenig is every parent’s absolute worst nightmare. In February 2012, Israel abducted Samantha from her job at a nearby Coffee Grounds kiosk. Within ten hours of taking her, Keyes had raped and murdered her. He left her body in the shed behind his house and went for a cruise with his daughter, Laney. During this time, he is believed to have disappeared at least one other man before being apprehended. Keyes can be seen on surveillance footage robbing another bank with hair longer than his own, which eerily resembled the missing man. ¹ Upon his return, Keyes thawed Samantha’s body with a hairdryer and proceeded to rape her again — because she was warm. ¹ When he finished, he staged her battered and abused carcass for the ransom [note] that would later lead authorities directly to him. His detailed account of this process was especially bone-chilling. He told of how he had sewn her eyes open and how her face had begun drooping, so he placed duct tape over her mouth to hold it in place. After taking a photo holding a recent local newspaper next to her staged cadaver, he dismembered her into five pieces, placed those pieces into individual bags, tethered weights to each bag, and went ice fishing. He later fled to Texas, where authorities have said he had plenty of time to commit at least one more murder between when he left Anchorage and his capture.

Re-enactment of Samantha Koenig ransom photo, courtesy of allthatsinteresting.com

For a time before Keyes found Samantha, though, there were others. He found them in places he had chosen, planned, and plotted long before they crossed his path. Travelling the country, Keyes had buried kill kits over the years, or as he liked to call them, buried treasure. ² These containers he filled with duct tape, guns, knives, plastic, and Drano. Although it is purely speculation, dozens of these caches may still be buried across the country, hidden by time and dirt. By his own account, he was active for fourteen years before Samantha.

Buried Treasure Tee

Everyone has a role model

Israel Keyes will forever be infamous for how he set himself apart for more than a decade before his greed became overwhelming — before his arrogance got the better of him. He joined an extensive line of banal predators. We know how we caught him. We know he got greedy — overconfident. That he spiralled. He escalated. We also understand how he evaded detection. Once captured, Keyes told of his exploits in detail through maniacal chuckles and a tinge of superiority in his tone. Proud of the power he felt he held, enjoying his treats and the thick smoke of his cigars. In some ways, he was correct. He had all the power. Without him, we may never know where his other victims were dumped — or how.

In interviews with the FBI, Keyes boasted his high-held respect for Ted Bundy. He bragged that he had worked out the flaws in Bundy’s plans and ironed out where he went wrong. It comes as no surprise then that Keyes modelled his own crimes — his own life — after his role model. Had learned from his mentor’s mistakes and refined his less-than-perfect hunting practices. Keyes also mimicked his mentor by finding a live-in girlfriend and child. He had created the picture of an ideal family. First, it was Tammie Hawkins and her eight-year-old son. Keyes moved across the country to be with her (word has it they had the same party habits), ¹ but eventually, that fell apart. That is when he sunk his teeth into Kimberley Anderson. She gave him a daughter all his own. Laney , the only soul to whom he offered any semblance of human compassion. Due to postpartum struggles, Keyes assumed the role of primary caretaker for much of Laney’s infancy. He stabilized his homefront by building a lucrative contracting business — that did not stop him from robbing banks for an adrenaline rush, sometimes during his kill trips. Co-workers said that Keyes kept to himself, sure, but he was also personable and seemed to have an everyday life — always bragging about his daughter. It would seem, to his neighbours and clients, that he was an average family man — an Average Joe. His victims, however, had the distinct position to see him in a harshly different light.

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The Farmhouse, with Bill and Lorraine

In early June 2011, Keyes took a trip to New England. After landing in Chicago, he rented a car and drove to Vermont. This is where Keyes committed the abduction, rape, and murder of Bill and Lorraine Currier six days later. During his gruesome recount, interviewers learned how he broke into their home by breaking in through their garage, its simple ranch-style being the reason. Before long, Keyes had found his way through the darkened house and into the main bedroom, where Bill and Lorraine slept. In mere seconds he had roused them from their slumber at gunpoint, demanding access to any weapons and valuables. In the same breath, Keyes proceeded to pack their bags as if they had decided on an impromptu trip. He then loaded them and the bags into their car and drove them to a dilapidated, condemned farmhouse he had vetted earlier. That is when their genuine horror [and his annoyance] began.

Currier Murder Farmhouse, photo courtesy of morbidtourism.com

Inside the farmhouse, Keyes tied Bill to a stool in the basement, leaving Lorraine in the car. Keyes chased her down and tackled her as she attempted to run into the main street. He then dragged Lorraine into a bedroom and tied her to the bed by her ankles and wrists. Bill shouted from the basement. When he returned to the basement to find Bill partially untethered, his frustration only grew. Thoughts of how these people — his victims — had the audacity to ruin the plan he had so methodically plotted that he had meticulously laid out. In a burst of rage, Keyes lost control and repetitiously struck Bill over the head with a shovel. Gunshots soon rang through the squalid farmhouse. Bill’s body lies lifeless on the floor, blood creating a demented painting on the walls and floor. Wielding a knife, Keyes returned to the bedroom where he cut off Lorraine’s clothes and brutally raped her — twice — strangling her unconscious.

Once he was finished raping and abusing her, Keyes dragged Lorraine to the basement and tormented her with Bill’s blood-drained figure, his face and skull disfigured from blunt force trauma. When he was satisfied, he strangled her. Keyes dragged their bodies to a corner of the basement and doused them with Drano to kickstart decomposition. ³ He covered them with plastic and boards and left them in the basement of an abandoned farmhouse. The farmhouse, as Keyes had predicted, was eventually torn down. Its putrid debris was spread through local landfills. Their bodies were never recovered.

Officials search the Currier Murder Farmhouse basement, photo courtesy of mynbc5.com

Coffee, a Cigar, and a Peanut Butter Snickers

While in custody, Keyes cryptically admitted to eleven murders. He explicitly confessed to only four, however, one of whom he initially denied having known at all. That story changed, though, when FBI investigators showed him a photo of Debra Feldman. At that moment of the interview, he grew ever more menacing, stating, “I just don’t want to talk about her, yet.” ¹ Instead, he tells of Bill and Lorraine and describes various other encounters. Not for nothing, of course. He agreed to talk for a cigar, coffee, and peanut butter snickers, though he was unwavering in his ambitions of anonymity. Keyes made it clear that he did not want his daughter Laney to know the grisly details of what he had done. He was adamant about not wanting to put her through a trial and wanting an execution date in under a year. Keyes also made a haphazard escape attempt at a routine hearing on 24 May 2012, likely inspired by Bundy. Terrifying spectators, Keyes vaulted himself over the divider into the gallery; he was immediately subdued by marshals.

It was not until his name was linked to the disappearance of Bill and Lorraine Currier on the news that he had little to say. That is when he shut down. That fragile trust built on coffee and peanut butter snickers had been broken. He continued to answer questions from FBI agents and talk of himself over several months — enjoying the coffee, peanut butter snickers, and cigars. He would talk about whatever he wanted to say, teasing and toying with investigators; sometimes, he would sit in silence for extended periods.

Keyes yawning during interviews with investigators, courtesy of FBI interview tapes

On 2 December 2012, Israel Keyes took his own life in his cell. With a makeshift noose around his neck and latched to his foot, he slit his wrists, exsanguinating with a four-page ode to murder beneath him.

“Land of the free, land of the lie, land of scheme, Americanize! Consume what you don’t need, stars you idolize, pursue what you admit is a dream, then its (sic) american die.” –Israel Keyes ³

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¹ Evans, Viktoria. “Israel Keyes: Life in Detail Documentary.” YouTube, YouTube, 25 July 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJPSNwBI7LE.

² “Israel Keyes | Confessions of a Serial Killer | S2E04.” YouTube, True Crime Central, 23 January 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyFwP9sIHEg&t=2246s.

³ “Israel Keyes.” FBI, FBI, 21 July 2020, https://vault.fbi.gov/israel-keyes.

⁴ Knight, Zelda G. “Some Thoughts on the Psychological Roots of the Behavior of Serial Killers as Narcissists: An Object Relations Perspective.” Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, vol. 34, no. 10, 2006, pp. 1189–1206., https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2006.34.10.1189.

⁵ “New Information Released in Serial Killer Case.” FBI, FBI, 13 August 2013, https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/new-information-released-in-serial-killer-case.

⁶ “Serial Killer Israel Keyes Documentary.” YouTube, YouTube, 2 March. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a4rMKXNvBw.

⁷ “Ted Bundy.” FBI, FBI, 30 November 2010, https://vault.fbi.gov/Ted%20Bundy%20/view.

⁸ van Sant, Peter. “FBI Reveals New Evidence in Hopes of Identifying Unknown Victims of Serial Killer.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 13 March. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-keyes-fbi-evidence-serial-killer-unknown-victims-48-hours/.