ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A man charged in the death of an Alaska barista has killed himself, and authorities said Sunday he had been linked to at least seven other possible slayings in three other states.
Israel Keyes was found dead in his Anchorage jail cell Sunday morning. U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said at a news conference that Keyes killed himself.
Keyes was facing a March trial in federal court for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from an Anchorage coffee kiosk last February. He was later arrested in Texas after using the victim’s debit card.
Authorities said Keyes confessed to killing Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt. The couple was reported missing in June 2011.
Keyes also indicated he killed four others in Washington state and one person in New York state, but did not give the victims’ names, authorities said.
The FBI contends Keyes killed Koenig less than a day after she was kidnapped. Her body was recovered April 2 from an ice-covered lake north of Anchorage.
Koenig’s disappearance had gripped the city for weeks.
A surveillance camera showed an apparently armed man in a hooded sweat shirt leading Koenig away from the coffee stand. Koenig’s friends and relatives established a reward fund and plastered the city with flyers with her photo in hopes of finding the young woman alive.
Prosecutors said Keyes stole the debit card from a vehicle she shared that was parked near her home, obtained the personal identification number and scratched the number into the card.
After killing Koenig, Keyes used her phone to send text messages to conceal the abduction, according to prosecutors. He flew to Texas and returned Feb. 17 to Anchorage, where he sent another text message demanding ransom and directing it to the account connected to the stolen debit card, according to prosecutors.
Keyes made withdrawals from automated teller machines in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest in Texas, according to prosecutors.
Koenig’s family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teen and the suspect.