CW: murder/serial murder, psychopathy, kidnapping, rape, suicide, and dismemberment
I read this book in less than 12 hours. Started it while I was waiting on a friend to show up for brunch, kept reading it once I got home, and then just didn’t stop. It’s one of those insane stories that you forget about and then, when you’re reminded with all the details, you can’t help but wonder how you forgot it.
I’ve definitely been exposed to this case through true crime podcasts before this book came out. When I read the description, I only had to read that it was about a kidnapping of a girl from a coffee kiosk in Alaska and that was it. I knew exactly what story this was and what the content would be.
But I entirely forgot the case.
It was like reading it all over again because the story starts at the beginning. Israel Keyes kidnaps Samantha Koenig. Everyone thinks that she’s being held captive for a ransom since that’s how he made it look. Finally, he’s caught and apprehended. Except, it turns out that there are more victims. He operated entirely underground and no one knew that there was even a serial killer. He had kill kits. He studied books written by FBI agents who worked on apprehending serial killers.
The first two parts of this book is about Samantha’s kidnapping. They find out that Israel Keyes is more than what he says he is, along with finding Samantha’s body. (Which was horrific and sad to read.) The second half of the book, or the last two parts, is the detectives and agents working on this case seeing that there was more to the story. We learn about Keyes’ upbringing — completely off the grid and very religious, along with him showing what are considered hallmarks of psychopathy — and his other crimes.
The crazy thing about this case is that literally no one knew that it was going on. People went missing and there was nothing about it. Keyes stated that he operated for around fourteen years. In that time, we have no clue how many he killed. He said he never killed kids, but was that always how it was or did that just start after having a kid? The crazy thing is that he was so meticulous and studied the craft so much that we really don’t know how many victims he had.
And we’ll never know because he took his life.
This book was honestly amazing. I’m still sitting here in shock about this case while I’m writing this up. And we’ll never know more. I would be really surprised if agents were ever able to figure out how many he killed. There are three confirmed kills that he spoke about before his suicide, but there could be so many more across America.
If you like true crime, I highly recommend this book. It’s absolutely chilling to read and it made me realize just how little I actually knew about this case.
What true crime do you love?
Are you familiar with this case?