The prime suspect in the 2011 murder of missing Essex couple Bill and Lorraine Currier — who authorities now say was a serial killer — committed suicide in an Alaska prison cell on Sunday while awaiting trial for another murder.
Israel Keyes, a 34-year-old self-employed carpenter and Army veteran, was identified publicly for the first time yesterday as the suspect in the Currier murder. Citing anonymous sources, WCAX identified Keyes as the prime suspect months ago following a massive — and unsuccessful — search of the Coventry landfill looking for evidence of the couple's remains. No other news outlet could confirm that information.
Federal officials made the startling revelation at a press conference in Anchorage on Sunday that Keyes (pictured in this undated photo) was a serial killer and confessed to committing at least seven murders over a period of 10 years. Authorities say that, in addition to the Curriers, Keyes confessed before his death to killing four people in Washington State and one in New York, where Keyes owned a cabin, though authorities reportedly have no names or details with which to confirm that information.
In Alaska, he was awaiting trial for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, a barista he abducted earlier this year.
His victims all appeared to be strangers to him, prey from random encounters. And investigators suspect he killed more than the eight they've zeroed in on. He'd fly someplace, rent a car, then drive hundreds of miles away, the FBI said. While he stole from Koenig using her ATM card, and confessed to bank robberies in Texas and New York, his motive did not appear to be financial, authorities said.
Authorities haven't said how Keyes killed himself, but U.S. Attorney for Vermont Tristram Coffin has scheduled a press conference for today at 1:30 at the federal courthouse in Burlington to give an update on the situation.
More from the Anchorage Daily News:
Keyes told investigators he killed Koenig, a Vermont couple and five others, Karen Loeffler, U.S. attorney for Alaska, said. Investigators were able to corroborate enough of what he said about the deaths of William and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., to be convinced he was responsible, though they were not able to find the couple's bodies, Loeffler said. Sunday marked the first time officials publicly connected Keyes to the Curriers, who disappeared in June 2011.
(Pictured: Bill and Lorraine Currier).
The Burlington Free Pressreached Bill Currier's mother, Marilyn Chates, who lives in Florida, by email on Sunday night.
“So many thoughts have swirled through my mind, but at this moment I’m feeling that this probably is the best thing that could have happened. He will kill no more, and we all will be saved from months, if not years, of trials and appeals,” Chates wrote in an email Sunday night to the Burlington Free Press.
“Importantly, too, facts will unequivocally support that there is nothing Bill and Lorraine did that led to their victimization. They truly were the loving family-oriented people we've always held them out to be, victims of a totally random act of a deranged individual,” Chates wrote.
“I hope with all my heart that the family and friends of Samantha Koenig feel the same, and pray that peace will come eventually to all of us.”
The revelation raises more quesitons than answers, including what Keyes was doing in Vermont in the first place. Stay tuned to Off Message for updates following this afternoon's press conference.