ANCHORAGE — Confessed serial killer Israel Keyes was mistakenly issued a razor before he committed suicide, according to a report released Wednesday by the Alaska Department of Corrections that also said “it appears that razor was not retrieved.”
The security lapse occurred when Keyes was the focus of heightened security after earlier being found with a makeshift handcuff key, the report states. He also was segregated from other inmates.
Keyes’ body was found in his jail cell Dec. 2, months before he was to have gone on trial for the 2012 slaying of 18-year-old Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig. Keyes, 34, slit his left wrist with a razor blade and tied a noose around his neck and right foot, according to the report, which says the exact cause of death is unknown although it has been classified as a suicide.
Koenig’s father has criticized the Corrections Department over the death, which he says robbed his family of their day in court. James Koenig said Wednesday he doesn’t believe the official version released by the agency.
“I don’t think it was mistaken at all,” he said. “How do you mistakenly give someone in segregation a real razor blade?”
The state had previously denied an open records request from The Associated Press for details of events surrounding Keyes’ death. Corrections spokeswoman Kaci Schroeder told the AP that officials later decided to take another look at the case and see what could be released publicly.
Schroeder said officials are not discussing what disciplinary actions, if any, were taken, over the lapse. However, she said because of this, any restriction for inmates are being posted on the cell doors in addition to being noted in a prisoner log.
Before he died, Keyes told investigators he had killed Koenig and at least seven other people across the country, including Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt. Investigators believe there could be more victims.
Keyes, 34, was set for a March trial in federal court in the abduction and killing of Koenig.
She was abducted at gunpoint from a coffee stand just before closing time on Feb. 1, 2012. Investigators concluded she was raped and strangled. Her body was left in a shed outside Keyes’ Anchorage home for two weeks while he went on a cruise.
The abduction gripped Anchorage as investigators held out hope that she remained alive.
Keyes was arrested in March in Lufkin, Texas. He had sought a ransom and used Koenig’s debit card.
Three weeks after the arrest, Koenig’s dismembered body was found in a frozen lake north of Anchorage.
Koenig and the Curriers were the only victims named by Keyes.
Keyes was in state custody in Anchorage because there are no federal prisons in Alaska.
The corrections report says Keyes was last seen alive at 10:13 p.m. Dec. 1.
A number of security checks were conducted periodically throughout the night and early morning.
Security officers are required to look into each cell and verify the prisoner is present and their status, the report says.
“Procedures call for security staff to visually observe the prisoner’s uncovered skin. Keyes’ death was not observed during those security checks,” the report says.
At 5:57 a.m., Dec. 2, an official found what appeared to be blood along Keyes’ bunk and floor. The report says this was only noticed after lights came on; before that, an LED nightlight in the overhead fixture was the only light source.
Medical personnel were called, and Keyes was declared dead at 6:13 a.m.
Keyes attempted to escape from the federal courthouse on May 23, 2012. After that, enhanced security measures were used on Keyes, including full restraints, a two-officer escort any time he was out of the cell, and restrictions on possession of razors and pencils.
He also was subjected to daily strip searches and cell searches.
On Sept. 11, the report says, Keyes was found guilty of possessing an object which had been modified as a handcuff key.
A disciplinary board found him guilty, and he had to serve 60 days — with 45 days suspended — in punitive segregation.
That sentence began Nov. 28, and his access to personal property was restricted.