Marshals say kidnapping suspect attempted escape

ANCHORAGE — The man charged in the kidnapping and killing of an 18-year-old Anchorage barista attempted to dash out of a federal courtroom Wednesday but was tackled by U.S. marshals before he reached the door.


Israel Keyes, indicted in the death of Samantha Koenig, was grabbed by a U.S. marshal near the defense table and other officers quickly piled on.

“It was over instantly,” said Dave Long, supervisory deputy.

Keyes, 34, is charged with kidnapping Koenig just before the teenager was scheduled to close the coffee stand where she worked Feb. 1. The FBI contends Keyes killed the young woman less than a day later. Her body was recovered April 2 from an ice-covered lake north of the city.

Keyes, who operated a one-man construction business, was arrested March 11 in Texas. Prosecutors say he had made withdrawals of ransom money using a debit card he stole from Koenig.

He was scheduled for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday before U.S. District Court Judge Tim Burgess to set a trial date. The hearing had just begun shortly before 2 p.m. when he took off.

“He broke his leg irons and tried to bolt out of the courtroom, but he was stopped,” Long said. “He didn’t make it very far.”

Leg irons, he said, are like handcuffs around a prisoner’s legs. Marshals have not determined how Keyes broke them.

Keyes tried to jump the bar that separates the public from attorney and defendants.

“He tried to,” Long said. “One of the deputies grabbed him and I think momentum carried him over.”

A marshal used a stun gun to subdue Keyes. The escape attempt ended the hearing, Long said.

Koenig’s disappearance had gripped the city for weeks.

A surveillance camera showed an apparently armed man in a hooded sweat shirt leading Koenig away from the coffee stand. Koenig’s friends and relatives established a reward fund and plastered the city with flyers with her photo in hopes of finding the young woman alive.

Prosecutors say 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.

After 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 made withdrawals from automated teller machines in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest in Texas, according to prosecutors.

Koenig’s family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teen and the suspect.


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