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 late 1990, 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.
Read more of this story and see a video interview on Thought Catalog