A man charged in the death of an Alaska barista was found dead in his Anchorage jail cell after an apparent suicide, according to police, who also linked him to a series of U.S. homicides.
Israel Keyes, 34, had been facing a March trial in Anchorage federal court for the killing of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from a coffee kiosk in the city in February.
Authorities wouldn't say how Keyes killed himself, only that he was alone in his cell. An autopsy will be conducted.
After announcing Keyes' apparent suicide at a Sunday news conference, local authorities and the FBI said they believed Keyes was a serial killer linked to at least seven other possible killings in three other states.
"The FBI did release today that they were looking at him for additional homicides or crimes elsewhere," Lt. Dave Parker told ABC News Radio.
Keyes confessed to killing Koenig, as well as killing Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt., Anchorage police chief Mark Mew told reporters, according to The Associated Press. The couple was reported missing in June 2011.
Keyes also indicated that he killed four others in Washington State and one person in New York, but did not give the victims' names, authorities said, according to AP.
Koenig was last seen Feb. 1 on surveillance video that showed her leaving the Common Grounds Espresso stand in Anchorage with an armed man. All of the coffee stand's cash was also missing.
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, according to the AP.
After allegedly 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 was arrested in Lufkin, Texas, March 16 after he used Koenig's debit card. 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.
Police and the FBI spent hours talking to Keyes in the months after his arrest and he was cooperating, talking to investigators as recently as Thursday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Keyes owned a construction company in Anchorage. According to the website for Keyes Construction at the time of his arrest, Keyes worked in Washington State in the mid-1990s and then served three years in the Army infantry, stationed in Fort Lewis, Fort Hood, and Sinai, Egypt. According to the site, he then worked from 2001 to 2007 for the Makah Tribal Council in Neah Bay, Wash., before moving to Alaska.
Koenig had been working at the Common Grounds Espresso stand for about a month before her disappearance and, her father said, she was really enjoying it.
"She's a sweetheart. She's got the biggest heart and she has genuine love and care for people. She befriends people so easily," James Koenig told ABC News in March. "Everyone that meets her, they call her their best friend. That's just her personality. She's funny and she loves life."Also Read