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Texas Arrest Made in Samantha Koenig Case

March 15, 2012|By Chris Klint | Channel 2 News
  • Anchorage police announced the Tuesday arrest of Israel Keyes, 34, in Texas during a joint press conference with the FBI Thursday afternoon. Keyes is being held in a federal facility in Beaumont, Texas on unspecified charges as a "person of interest" in the Feb. 1 abduction of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig.
Courtesy APD

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage police say a "person of interest" has been arrested in Texas in the case of a local barista who has been missing since February.

Israel Keyes, 34, was arrested Tuesday in Lufkin, Texas by local law enforcement in Lufkin and the Texas Rangers, as part of a joint effort with APD and the FBI in connection with the abduction of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig.

APD says it's had two detectives working the case in Texas for the last few days, and the arrest was announced at APD headquarters Thursday afternoon in a joint press conference by APD and the FBI. Few additional details were released about the investigation Thursday, but police did say Keyes was staying at a Turnagain house at 2456 Spurr Ln. that was visited by APD's Major Crime Scene unit Tuesday night.

Keyes is being held in a federal facility in Beaumont, Texas on unspecified charges.

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"The federal arrest warrant was sealed; therefore, details related to his charges will not be released at this time," APD spokesperson Anita Shell wrote in a press release.

Court documents filed in Texas show that Keyes was charged with access device fraud, a typical crime involved in identity theft related to the use of another person's credit or debit cards. U.S. attorneys also ask in the documents that Keyes be held without bail, because of both escape risk and "a serious risk that the defendant will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate or attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate, a prospective witness or juror."

In a live interview with Channel 2's Mike Ross on the 5:00 Report, APD detective Sgt. Slawomir Markiewicz said Keyes had a central role in the case.

"We believe that he is the person that -- that was the main figure in the abduction and he's the main person of interest," Markiewicz said. "We can't go into details on his role and say what happened; what we can say is that his arrest is related to the case."

While Markiewicz emphasized the tentative nature of the investigation, he said police think Keyes was personally involved in Koenig's abduction.

"I think we can say that we believe that," Markiewicz said. "We won't be able to comment much further until we get some more information, some verified information."

Markiewicz says police believe Koenig is still alive, but her whereabouts are presently unknown and officers are still asking for the public's help in finding her.

The arrest is a sudden turn in a case that has captured national attention and seen massive local efforts to find Koenig, including countless posters around town, tens of thousands of dollars in reward money and even self-defense classes for baristas since she disappeared Feb. 1 from Common Grounds Espresso, a Midtown coffee stand.

Shortly after APD’s investigation began, police said surveillance video showed Koenig being abducted by an armed man, but refused to release the video for fear of compromising their investigation. In recent weeks investigators said the odds of solving the case were good, and added that they were proceeding on the assumption that Koenig was alive.

Koenig’s family has also been in the public eye during the search for her, with her father James Koenig pleading for her return days after her disappearance, as her grandmother said Samantha was her father’s “whole life” and joined her mother in asking that she be released. 

Anyone with information on Koenig's whereabouts or who has had contact with Keyes or associated with his business, Keyes Construction, since Jan. 1 is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.

Editor's note: An initial reference to Keyes as a suspect in the Koenig abduction has been clarified to identify him as a "person of interest."

This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.

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