After Israel Keyes' prison suicide, the FBI has found new links tying him to Christian white supremacists
Confessed serial killer Israel Keyes committed suicide in an Alaska jail cell last weekend by slitting his wrist with a disposable razor and strangling himself with a sheet tied between his neck and extended foot, authorities say.
Before killing himself, the 34-year-old man, who was exposed to Christian Identity white supremacy beliefs and a survivalist lifestyle as a teenager, confessed to killing an Anchorage barista, a Vermont couple and five others he coyly didn’t identify.
The 18-year-old barista was abducted at gunpoint last February, raped and strangled by Keyes, who later dismembered her body and disposed of it in a frozen Alaska lake. Those remains were recovered after Keyes’ arrest in Texas in March.
Now, with some urgency, the FBI is piecing together a timeline of Keyes’ life while various law enforcement investigators throughout the United States are dusting off old homicide cases to see if Keyes, who traveled extensively over the past decade, may be responsible. Those cold cases which have foreign DNA evidence could be the key to identifying Keyes’ as the killer.
Four of the murders occurred in the state of Washington, along with one in New York, before he randomly killed a Vermont couple in 2011, authorities say.
Keyes knew the names of his other victims, but never divulged their identities to investigators, Jeff Bell, an Anchorage police officer who interviewed the killer, told the Anchorage Daily News.
The weekend suicide is frustrating, Bell told the newspaper, because Keyes gave few clues to help locate his other victims’ remains or their families. While Keyes admitted to killing eight people, he indicated there are “a lot more” yet to be discovered, the newspaper reported.
Keyes was born in Utah to fundamentalist Mormon parents who later moved to Stevens County in a remote corner of Washington state, reportedly living “off the grid” in a cabin with wood heat and no electricity, various sources have told Hatewatch.
The undersheriff in Stevens County says her department has no links between Keyes and unsolved homicides there.
The Keyeses, who homeschooled their children, were neighbors and friends of Kirby Kehoe and his large family, including sons Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe, whose white supremacy beliefs in the 1990s led to a notorious series of violent crimes.
At some point, various sources say, the Keyeses and the Kehoes attended Christian Identity services at a church near the Canadian border, north of Colville, Wash., called The Ark. The Ark, which is now known as Our Place Fellowship, is headed by Pastor Dan Henry. The Keyes and Kehoe families also attended services at another nearby Christian Identity church, the Christian Israel Covenant Church, headed by Henry’s neighbor and friend, Pastor Ray Barker, sources say.
Christian Identity is an anti-Semitic theology that sees Jews as an evil force and claims the Bible is the history of white people. The most virulent Identity followers believe that Jews are biological descendants of Satan and are working to prepare the earth for the return of their progenitor, the Devil.
Pastor Barker married Cheyne Kehoe and Tanna Wilburn, and later facilitated Cheyne Kehoe’s1997 surrender to then-Stevens County Sheriff Craig Thayer, who acted as an intermediary for the FBI. Cheyne Kehoe, sought by the FBI after shooting at police in Ohio, later provided information that led to the arrest in Utah of his brother, Chevie, who subsequently was convicted of murdering three people in Arkansas.
When Barker moved to Stevens County from Gig Harbor, Wash., he briefly attended The Ark before deciding to start his own Christian Identity church that he operated out of his home until it disbanded after his death about 10 years ago, Henry said in an interview with Hatewatch earlier this week.
Henry subsequently has attempted to distance himself and his church from the Keyeses and the Kehoes, describing both families as “hotshots” in an interview with KREM-TV of Spokane.
More Related Stories
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
- Record tornado devastates Oklahoma
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Salon is proud to feature content from The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.