Samantha Koenig – The Horrifying Story of a Young Woman’s Murder

By: Brittany Stallman

Published on:

How far can a person go with committing a crime as heinous as murder? 

The story of Samantha Koenig is proof that humanity is slowly meeting a dead end and that the devil is resting inside all of us. The girl was only 18 when she was kidnapped and murdered by a serial killer. The incident took place in Anchorage, Alaska. The murderer did not just murder her but saw her eyelids open to create a bone-chilling ‘proof of life’ photo. 

So, who was Samantha Koenig, and who murdered her? Read this article till the end to find out. 

Who Was Samantha Koenig? 

Samantha Koenig was only 18 and working at a coffee shop in Anchorage, Alaska. Like all, she was having just another day in her life when the incident took place. The young girl was approached by a man whose identity was hidden under a ski mask. He ordered coffee and then suddenly tied Samantha’s hands together. Afterward, he forced her into his car with a gun on her head. The incident took place on the 1st of February, 2012. 

The Abduction of Samantha Koenig 

The young man whose identity was hidden under a ski mask was Israel Keyes. He abducted Samantha and then brought her back to her work after some time so that she could get her phone. The plan was to send a fake message to her boyfriend, who was supposed to pick her up after work. After sending the message, Keyes took her to his property, tied her in a shed, and even used a radio to cover up her screams for help. 

So, who was Israel Keyes? 

Keyes hailed from Utah. He committed his first murder in 1998, right after he enlisted in the US Army. Samantha was not his only target, as he had murdered nine people from multiple states before. He lived with his girlfriend and 10-year-old daughter. 

The Bone-Chilling Details of the Murder 

Disclaimer: We advise you to read this section at your own risk! 

The bone-chilling murder of Samantha Koenig took place in Keyes’ backyard, and the details will make you feel gutted. 

On the day of the abduction, he told Samantha it was for robbery and ordered her to turn off the lights of the coffee shop. He bound her hands, jumped through the window, and stuffed napkins into her mouth so that she couldn’t make noise. The duo drove to his house, where the murderer told the victim that he only wanted to hold her for ransom. 

However, he did have some other brutal plans. 

Keyes took Samantha’s debit card and phone. He took her out of the truck, shifted her into his tool shed, and tied her up by the neck. Afterward, he went inside his home to check on his girlfriend and daughter. The brutal murderer then poured a glass of wine in front of Samantha and told her how he would rape her before strangling her to death. He did as he said. 

He went back home early in the morning, called a cab to the airport, and flew to New Orleans for a 2-week Caribbean cruise that the family had planned. 

The Story of the Ransom Photo 

Samantha Koenig was not reported missing until the very next day, and by the time it happened, she was already dead. After the missing report, the FBI descended all over Anchorage to find her, but they couldn’t as there were not enough leads to locate her. 

By the time police had released the search operation, Keyes and his family returned from the cruise. The episode didn’t just stop here. He took Samantha’s ransom photo and promised her parents that she would be left unharmed if the ransom was provided. He even ensured Samantha looked alive in the photo by sewing her eyelids open with a fishing line, braiding her hair, and applying makeup on her face. Keyes propped Samantha’s body against the wall and clicked her picture. He clicked this ‘proof of life’ photo to ensure that the victim was not harmed by him. 

He also texted Samantha’s boyfriend from her phone and told him to look for a package in the local park. The local police found a photo and note demanding $30,000 to be deposited in Samantha’s bank account. The poor parents had no choice but to pay the sum to see their daughter alive. 

However, unfortunately, Samantha could not return to her parents. After getting the ransom, he dismembered her body and disposed of all her remains in the frozen lake outside Palmer, Alaska, to the north. 

How the FBI Caught the Serial Killer? 

After Samantha’s parents deposited money into her account, her debit card began to ping. It denoted different locations – Arizona, Anchorage, New Mexico, and Texas. It was a clue for the FBI to figure out that the abductor was traveling east along Interstate 10. In addition, Keyes was captured in a white Ford, though as a masked man, but it was easy for the officials to catch him. 

This piece of information was shared by law enforcement across the entire corridor. Within a few days of passing the information, a Texas state trooper spotted a car in the town of Shepherd in a hotel parking lot. He waited for the car’s owner to come out and followed it, pulling Keyes over. Upon searching the car, he found Samantha’s phone, ATM card, and the same mask he wore when he was captured in the ATM cameras. 

When Was Samantha’s Body Discovered? 

Samantha Koenig’s murder took place in February, but her body was not to be found soon. Her dead body was discovered in the first week of April after Keyes confessed to murdering the young female. It was not only Samantha. When the officials caught him, Keyes confessed to murdering people two. There are official records of two people who went missing – a couple from Vermont, Bill and Lorraine Currier. 

As per his confessions, Keyes planned murders ahead of time and did not have a specific victim profile because he killed both men and women. He would plan the murders far from home, turn off the mobile, and pay only cash to save himself from getting traced. He also put together murder kits hiding for years in advance in locations around the country so that he could use them when the time was right for him to commit a murder again. But things did not work in his favor in Samantha’s case. 

The Trials of Israel Keyes 

After his confession of killing Samantha Koenig, Israel Keyes was taken to the trials. In May 2012, he tried escaping from the courtroom after breaking his leg iron during a routine hearing. However, the authorities restrained him, and he could not escape. In December 2012, Keyes managed to conceal a razor blade in his jail at the Anchorage Correctional Complex in Alaska. He used the same blade to kill himself. 

He left behind a message, “We Are One”, and drew 11 skulls with his own blood. As per the officials, the 11 skulls alluded to the number of victims he has killed so far. 

Facts about Israel Keyes 

  • Even after Keyes’ arrest, he didn’t give the exact details of the murder he had committed. Per his biography reports, he traversed through different locations to find people alone and catch them off guard. Keyes preferred places like secluded parks, campgrounds, and cemeteries to look for victims. 
  • Israel Keyes was born Christian, but he renounced his faith. When he was a teenager, he told his parents that he was interested in practicing Satanism. 
  • His interest in Satanism resulted in his first crime, which ended well for the victim. Keyes performed a Satanic ritual for killing a young woman and managed to grab one from the Deschutes River and tie her up. He was too scared to perform the ritual and wasn’t even violent enough to execute it. As a result, he released the woman and asked her not to disclose the information to anyone else. The woman kept her promise. 
  • Every time Keyes murdered a victim, he barely left its traces. Reportedly, he was fascinated by the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. 
  • Keyes’ crimes were not restricted to killing alone. He would also involve himself in other crimes, including burglaries and robbing. 

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