Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Disappearance and Murder of Danielle Locklear

 

Danielle Locklear (15) was a young, bright girl with her whole future ahead of her when her life was tragically taken on March 11th, 2014. Danielle is originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but she was living in Hope Mills, North Carolina at the time of her death. She lived with her grandparents and was very close with her aunt, who also lived in Hope Mills.

Danielle moved to Hope Mills during June of 2013. After finishing her 2012-2013 school year in Myrtle Beach, she went to Hope Mills to spend the summer with her grandparents. While there, Danielle attended summer camp and also attended several church events with her family members. She made several new friends in Hope Mills and also began dating a 17-year-old named Je'Michael Malloy. 

Danielle and Je'Michael met through church, and her family members believed he was a kind and respectful young man. Danielle was reportedly very smitten with him. According to her aunt, Danielle would light up every time Je'Michael was around. When the summer was coming to an end, Danielle asked her mother if she could stay in Hope Mills instead of returning to Myrtle Beach. She had become quite attached to all of her new friends and her new boyfriend, so she wanted to make Hope Mills her permanent home. 

Danielle's family members decided to let her stay in Hope Mills, knowing that she was surrounded by several loving family members in the area. She was enrolled in Cape Fear High School, where she participated in ROTC and got straight A's on her report card. However, by Christmastime in 2013, Danielle and her boyfriend Je'Michael began going through a rough patch. They reportedly broke up around this time, but were back together a week later. This pattern of breaking up and getting back together continued throughout the next few months. 

In early March 2014, Danielle's family members noticed that she seemed down, and not like her normal energetic self. They attributed her seemingly sad mood to her relationship troubles with Je'Michael, which on the surface seemed to be fairly typical teenage troubles. Danielle still spent time with her friends, and her loved ones thought she would eventually move on from this high school relationship. Her family members could have never predicted that she would not return after leaving her home on the evening of March 11th, 2014. 

That evening, Danielle told her step-grandfather that her friend Alexis had asked her to drop off a textbook at her house. Alexis lived nearby, so they expected Danielle to be back shortly. Unfortunately, though, Danielle never returned home. Her worried family members reported her missing the following morning. 

Weeks later, on April 2nd, 2014, an off-duty police officer was on a bridge near the South River when he noticed something unusual in the water. The officer called 911, and investigators were sent to the scene. The unusual something that the officer noticed ended up being something far more tragic: it was the body of a young girl. Shortly thereafter, the body was identified as that of Danielle Locklear. She had been found with large cinderblocks tied around her waist. A sock was found stuff in her mouth. It was clear that the young girl had been brutally murdered. 

The Hope Mills community had been rocked by Danielle's disappearance. Danielle's family members clung to hope that she would return home safely. Those hopes were ripped away from them after Danielle's body was found. At that point, the missing persons investigation was shifted into a homicide case. 

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After police found Danielle's body, they began reviewing evidence they had gathered up until that point. The information they obtained in the beginning of Danielle's missing persons' investigation ultimately held the answers about who killed Danielle.

The creek.

When Danielle was first reported missing, investigators learned about a hangout spot for many local teens at a creek in Hope Mills. According to several people from that area, teens would often go to that spot while skipping class. In fact, police would soon learn that Danielle had gone to the creek on the day of her disappearance. 

As previously mentioned, Danielle told her step-grandfather that she was going to her friend Alexis' house on the evening of her disappearance. Police interviewed Alexis, who told them that Danielle did not come over to her house that evening - but they had seen each other earlier that day at the creek. Alexis provided police with pictures from their outing at the creek, which confirmed that they had been there during the daytime.

Danielle at the creek on March 11th, 2014. (source)

Reports state that many adults in the area were unaware that the creek was a hangout spot for teens. Danielle's aunt Chena Simmons said that she had heard rumors about the creek, and she decided to scope it out for herself after Danielle vanished. While there, Chena noticed that the the word "Help" scratched in the dirt on a creek side trail. There did not appear to be anything else suspicious in the immediate area, so one could easily assume that the writing was just from kids messing around. However, as Chena exited the trail, she found something else concerning: one of Danielle's socks. According to Chena, the sock appeared as if it had been "rolled off her foot."

This discovery was clearly suspicious, but it appears that Danielle made it safely home after her outing at the creek that day. Danielle was at home and accounted for on the evening of March 11th until 9:45 PM, when she said she was going on a quick trip to Alexis' house. Police were able to confirm that Danielle did not, in fact, go to Alexis' house that night or meet up with Alexis at all - so they began to question: who did she meet up with?

The ex-boyfriend.

In addition to learning about the creek, investigators also learned that Danielle had been going through a tough breakup at the time of her disappearance. Investigators inevitably wanted to speak with Je'Michael Malloy - as they felt there was a possibility that Danielle had met up with him instead of Alexis that evening. 

Je'Michael and Danielle. (source)

When police questioned Je'Michael, he said that he had not spoken to Danielle for days before her disappearance. He explained that Danielle was not taking their breakup well, but he wanted to move on. Je'Michael said that he had grown tired of Danielle's constant calls and texts, so he had blocked her phone number. He denied meeting up with Danielle on the evening of her disappearance - he said he was at home with his friend Dominic Lock. Dominic, then 18, supported Je'Michael's alibi.

Still, police wanted to investigate further, so they asked Je'Michael if they could search his phone. Je'Michael complied and willingly provided his phone for forensic analysis. His phone records showed some previous texts from Danielle stating that she was pregnant with his child. Je'Michael's responses to those texts were reportedly angry in nature, and he said that he did not believe that Danielle was pregnant. Other texts between Je'Michael and Danielle implied that he was angry with her and did not want to be around her anymore. 

The messages between Je'Michael and Danielle clearly revealed that their relationship was not in a good place at the time of her disappearance - but that was ultimately the only information the cell phone records revealed. Je'Michael's cell phone records did not otherwise tie him to Danielle's disappearance in any way. In fact, on the night of Danielle's disappearance, Je'Michael's cell phone records indicate that he was at home - as he told police. It appeared that he had spent the evening texting other girls. 

As the investigation into Danielle's disappearance continued, Je'Michael joined in on the search efforts. He assisted with volunteer searches and passed out flyers. Je'Michael also joined a Facebook group dedicated to the search for Danielle. He appeared to be concerned along with the rest of the community. 

Investigators did not have any other physical evidence to tie Je'Michael to Danielle's disappearance at that time - so they began to investigate elsewhere.

The search for other clues.

Police searched surveillance footage from the evening of Danielle's disappearance and reviewed Danielle's cell phone pings. It was confirmed that Danielle had left her residence around 9:45 PM. Her final cell phone ping occurred nearly an hour later, around 10:40 PM. Investigators went to the area near the tower from that ping and searched for the phone, but were unable to find it at that time.

Police also began to look for other people Danielle might have interacted with that day. They already knew she had been to the creek with Alexis that day - but they were not aware of the other teens who might have also been there as well. The picture of Danielle at the creek shows her wearing glasses. On the reflection of the glasses, other people are seen. One of those teens was later identified as another one of Danielle's friends named Caroline. 

Caroline told police that Danielle was still upset that day over her breakup with Je'Michael. Investigators found no other information to indicate that Danielle was talking to another boy who she might have met up with at the creek. 

Local investigators realized that they needed more assistance in their search for Danielle, so eventually the FBI got involved. Unfortunately, their efforts did not locate Danielle. It was not until April 2nd - 23 days after her disappearance - that Danielle was spotted by happenstance.

Finding Danielle.

As noted previously, Danielle's body was spotted by an off-duty police officer in the South River. Her body was found with cinderblocks tied around her waist with nylon rope. A sock of was stuffed in Danielle's mouth. The sock was a match to the other sock of Danielle's that was found at the creek. An autopsy confirmed that Danielle died from asphyxiation, with the sock possibly being a contributing factor. The autopsy also confirmed that, while she had told Je'Michael she was pregnant with his child, Danielle was not actually pregnant at the time of her death.

Investigators at the site where Danielle's body was discovered. (source)

Danielle's body was found approximately 20 miles away from her home. However, she was found less than one mile away from the home of Je'Michael Malloy. Upon this discovery, investigators knew they had to revisit Je'Michael. At that point, he was no longer a person of interest but a suspect. 

Search warrants executed.

Investigators did not believe it was a coincidence that Danielle's body was found less than a mile away from the home of her ex-boyfriend. As such, police obtained a warrant to search the Malloy home. In the garage, police found both cinderblocks and nylon rope that were identical to the ones found tied around Danielle's body. Police also finally found Danielle's cell phone on a highway median near the home. It appeared that it had been tossed out the window. The phone contained a threatening voicemail that Je'Michael had left Danielle, in which he said "If you come around me I will kill you." 

Police then asked Je'Michael to come to the station for further questioning. Detectives were all but certain that he was responsible for Danielle's death. They hoped that this was the moment that he was crack.


Detectives had no such luck. Je'Michael continued to deny any involvement in Danielle's disappearance and murder. Eventually, they had to let him go home. Investigators also questioned Je'Michael's friend Dominic Long, but he refused to speak with police.

A confession.

Days later, Je'Michael finally came clean. On April 9th, 2014, investigators received a call stating that Je'Michael wanted to confess. Je'Michael returned to the station, where he revealed what happened on the evening of Danielle's disappearance.

Je'Michael told police that on the evening of March 11th, he and Dominic went to Danielle's house. He got Danielle's attention by throwing his wallet at her window. Minutes later, Danielle told her step-grandfather she was going to Alexis' house when in reality, she was meeting up with Je'Michael and Dominic. The three of them then drove to the creek.

Once there, Danielle told Je'Michael yet again that she was pregnant. An argument ensued, and Je'Michael demanded that she take a pregnancy test in front of him. She refused. Je'Michael then said that he told Danielle if she was pregnant, he would be there for the child, but he would not be in a relationship with Danielle. By his account, this statement "caused Danielle to flip out and hit him." 

Je'Michael said this caused him to snap. He explained that he grabbed Danielle and began choking her - but at some point he blacked out. Je'Michael said that when he came to, Danielle was not breathing. He then asked Dominic, who was standing approximately 70 yards away, to help him dispose of Danielle's body. The two of them dragged Danielle to the car and placed her in the trunk. As they were driving towards Je'Michael's home, Danielle began making noise. Je'Michael said that Dominic stuffed her sock in her mouth to make the noise stop. Once they got to Je'Michael's house, they tied the cinderblocks to Danielle and threw her body in the river. 

Dominic confirmed to police that he helped Je'Michael dispose of Danielle's body. He said he was in shock when Je'Michael told him that he had killed her. Dominic explained that Je'Michael said they'd both go to jail for murder if he did not help get rid of the body. 

Police questioned why Je'Michael's cell phone pings placed him at home on the evening of the murder. He admitted that he had used an app to make it appear that he was at his house. 

Both Je'Michael and Dominic were subsequently charged with second degree murder in relation to the death of Danielle Locklear.

Je'Michael Malloy (left) Dominic Lock (right)

Plea deals.

Danielle's family members were initially unhappy with the second-degree murder charge against Je'Michael. They wanted him to be charged with first-degree murder, as they believed he had planned to murder Danielle. Several meetings with the family, attorneys, and other officials eventually led to a plea agreement. Je'Michael's second degree murder charge would remain, while Dominic's charges would be switched to accessory after the fact of first degree murder.

Both parties pleaded guilty. During the proceedings, the District Attorney stated that Je'Michael was solely responsible for Danielle's death by asphyxiation. The evidence had revealed that Dominic was, in fact, responsible for moving Danielle's body, but he did not participate in the murder. 

The sentencings.

Dominic Lock was sentenced to 6 to 8 years in prison. Je'Michael Malloy was sentenced to 25 to 31 years. At Je'Michael's sentencing, he apologized for his actions. "
I know there’s nothing I can do or I can say to bring her back. I do want to apologize for the actions I’ve made. I know sorry doesn’t cut it, but I do I want to say I’m really sorry."

Tributes to Danielle.


Danielle's loved ones have continued to pay tribute to her since her untimely death. In 2017, her high school honored her at their graduation. Several online tributes are still made for Danielle today. Her family continues to honor her memory. 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Abduction and Murder of Samantha Koenig

 

Samantha Koenig was kidnapped and murdered in Anchorage, Alaska during 2012. The then-18-year-old was living in Anchorage at her father's residence with both her father and her boyfriend, Duane Tortolani II. Samantha also worked as a barista at a local coffee stand. It was from that coffee stand that she was abducted as she finished her shift on the evening of February 1st, 2012.

Unbeknownst to Samantha, her kidnapper had been watching her at the coffee stand for quite some time before the abduction took place. In fact, the kidnapper already knew that the coffee stand closed at 8:00 PM, and he also knew that the female barista was often picked up by a young man - later identified as Samantha's boyfriend Duane - after closing the stand. The kidnapper knew Samantha would be closing up the stand when he approached her on that fateful evening. 

Surveillance footage from the stand captured Samantha's abduction. Shortly after 8:00 PM, Samantha is seen closing up when a person approaches the window and points a revolver at her. Per the footage, Samantha complies with the unknown gunman's instructions. Several minutes later, Samantha's kidnapper leaves the stand with her. She is seen walking with him with her hands bound behind her back.

Once Samantha was reported missing, police discovered the surveillance footage of her abduction. Very few details about Samantha's kidnapping were revealed to the public at that time. While she was still missing, the various reports about her case stated only that Samantha had been kidnapped and that investigators still believed she was alive. Although this was not shared in the media, Samantha's kidnapping was being investigated as a ransom case. The kidnapper had used Samantha's phone to send texts demanding money for her safe return. 

Samantha's boyfriend Duane received a text from Samantha's phone on February 24th, 2012. The text contained instructions to go to a local park and look for a message from the kidnapper. At the park, investigators discovered a photograph of Samantha with a newspaper from February 13th - indicating that she was alive as recently as that date. On the back of the photo, investigators found a note demanding that $30,000 be deposited into Samantha's bank account. Samantha's loved ones deposited the money as soon as they could. Unfortunately, though, she was not returned safely.

Days after the deposit was made, investigators were notified that Samantha's debit card was being used. The first debit card ping occurred in Anchorage. Then, the card pinged in Arizona, followed by New Mexico, and finally Texas. Investigators began searching Interstate 10, as it appeared that whoever was using the debit card was traveling eastbound along that route. Investigators also got a major clue from surveillance cameras at an ATM in Arizona where Samantha's debit card was used. The surveillance footage captured a masked man using the debit card. The footage also captured that man driving a white Ford Focus. The mask made the man unrecognizable, but the car gave investigators something to be on the look out for. 

On March 13th, 2013, a police officer in Shepherd, Texas spotted the car in a hotel parking lot. The police officer followed the car until the driver began exceeding the speed limit, which gave the officer a reason to pull the car over. The driver of the vehicle was identified as a 34-year-old man named Israel Keyes. Police searched Keyes' car and found Samantha's debit card and cell phone. Keyes was subsequently arrested and charged with the kidnapping of Samantha Koenig. 

Up until this point, the public was unaware that Samantha's disappearance was investigated as a ransom case. Many felt hopeful by investigator's statement that they believed Samantha was still alive. When police found Samantha's kidnapper without Samantha herself, those hopes began to dwindle. However, Keyes was initially only charged with kidnapping, and not murder - which still gave some hope that Samantha would be found alive. Unfortunately, those hopes were completely tarnished on April 2nd, 2012 - when investigators announced that they had found Samantha's dismembered remains in Matanuska Lake in Palmer, Alaska. Shortly thereafter, Keyes was also charged with Samantha's murder.

Keyes did not have an in-depth criminal record prior to his arrest. He had a DUI charge from over a decade earlier, but that was it. When he was charged with Samantha's kidnapping, many people had questions. Who was this man? Why did he take Samantha? Investigators eventually learned the answers to these questions - but the truth was more sinister than anyone could ever imagine. 
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Keyes' arrest.

As previously stated, Keyes was arrested and charged with Samantha's kidnapping after investigators located him in Texas. 

Israel Keyes (source:oregonlive.com)

It was clear that he had kidnapped Samantha. He had her items in his possession, and he used her debit card several times after the $30,000 was deposited into her account. It was also quite obvious that Keyes had used Samantha's cell phone to send texts demanding the ransom money. However, the messages Keyes sent said that Samantha would be returned safely. He left a "proof-of-life" photograph of Samantha in the park for investigators to find. So the question remained: where was Samantha?

Keyes eventually admitted that the ransom was fake, and Samantha was dead. He told investigators where her body could be found in Matanuska Lake. Keyes confessed to kidnapping and murdering Samantha, but he also said that Samantha was not his only intended victim that night. He also planned to kidnap her boyfriend. 

The kidnapping. 


The coffee stand where Samantha worked. (source:fbi.gov)

As previously mentioned, Keyes knew many details about the coffee stand where Samantha worked. He knew what time it closed, and he observed Samantha being picked up by her boyfriend, Duane Tortolani II, several times prior the kidnapping. Keyes told investigators that, after scoping out the coffee stand, he deemed both Samantha and Duane as suitable victims. 

When Keyes initially approached Samantha at the coffee stand, Duane had not yet arrived to pick her up. After Keyes pointed the revolver at her, he immediately demanded that she turn the lights off. He did this so he would not be identifiable by surveillance cameras. 

Moments after Israel Keyes pointed his gun at Samantha. (source:cbsnews.com)

After Samantha turned the lights off, Keyes entered the coffee stand. He bound Samantha's hands behind her back with zip ties and stuffed napkins inside her mouth. He then ordered Samantha to get on the ground. She complied. The two waited there for several minutes. Eventually, Keyes ordered Samantha to stand up, and he led out of the stand. 

When investigators first saw this footage, they thought that Keyes had waited on the ground for several minutes because he was trying to wait out any potential witnesses. However, Keyes told investigators that he was actually waiting for Duane to come pick Samantha up so he could kidnap him as well. He reportedly did not elaborate on why he changed his mind, but ultimately, Samantha ended up being the only person that Keyes kidnapped that night. 

Keyes told investigators that Samantha broke away from him as they were walking towards his truck. Samantha attempted to run away, but Keyes chased her and tackled her to the ground. He then took her at gunpoint, while telling her that his firearm had quiet ammo and she needed to cooperate. Keyes was then able to get Samantha into his truck.
 
The ransom lie. 

Keyes went on to explain that after he got Samantha into his truck, he drove around town while telling her that he was kidnapping her for ransom. Samantha told him that her family did not have very much money and he would likely not get a large ransom. Keyes told her that her loved ones would raise the money by seeking help from the public. He also told her that if Samantha continued to cooperate, she would go home unharmed. 

At some point during their drive, Keyes realized that Samantha did not have her cell phone. Since he intended to make her kidnapping appear to be a ransom, he needed her phone so he could demand ransom money. At that point, he drove back to the coffee stand, where he retrieved the cell phone. Keyes then drove to another part of town where he sent texts to both Samantha's boyfriend and her boss. The text messages were intended to make it seem like Samantha was leaving town for the weekend. Keyes then removed the battery from her phone.

Keyes demanded that Samantha give him her debit card. She told him that she shared a debit card with her boyfriend Duane, and it was kept in the car they also shared. She told Keyes the car would be parked in front of her father's house. Keyes then demanded she provide the debit card's pin number. Samantha complied with this demand. 

Around 2:00 AM, Keyes brought Samantha to his Anchorage residence. He tied her up in a shed next to his house and then turned the radio up so nobody would hear her if she made noise. He also told her that he had a police scanner and would know if she attempted to alert a neighbor. 

Israel Keyes' house. Shed on the right. (cbsnews.com)

Keyes' encounter with Duane. 


After Keyes tied Samantha up in the shed, he drove towards Samantha's father's house so he could retrieve her debit card. He parked his truck a reasonable distance from the home so he could avoid detection. Still, Keyes was spotted by the other person he intended to kidnap that night: Duane. 

It was around 3:00 AM when Duane noticed a masked man standing outside the house by his car. Duane confronted the man and realized he was trying to steal the debit card. Duane then ran inside to ask Samantha's father James for help. When they went back outside, the masked man was gone - as was the debit card. 

Unbeknownst to both Duane and James, that masked man was Israel Keyes - who had kidnapped Samantha just hours earlier. Samantha was not reported missing until later on February 2nd. There was not an initial belief that the stolen debit card and Samantha's disappearance were related. Once it was revealed that Samantha was kidnapped, though, investigators began to explore the possibility of the two incidents being connected.

Duane also had no idea that he was, too, was very close to being kidnapped by Keyes. Investigators still do not know why Keyes left the coffee stand before Duane arrived to pick Samantha up, but homicide detective Monique Doll stated that Duane was definitely part of Keyes' original plan. Doll explained to reporters, "I don't know why [Keyes] left, but he made it very clear that, you know, [kidnapping Duane] was part of the plan. It was very fortuitous for Mr. Tortolani not to have run into Mr. Keyes."

Although the two did encounter each other just a few hours later, it appears that Keyes was no longer interested in taking Duane as his victim. He did, however, want access to the debit card Duane shared with Samantha. 

Samantha's murder.

Keyes admitted to investigators that he killed Samantha very shortly after stealing her debit card. Although Keyes originally told Samantha that he just wanted ransom money, he would later reveal to her that it was all a lie. Once he returned home from retrieving the debit card, he first went inside the house to make sure his girlfriend and their 10 year-old daughter were asleep. Then, he poured himself a glass of wine and returned to the shed where he had left Samantha.

While inside the shed, Keyes sipped wine and spoke to Samantha - who was bound and had a rope tied around her neck. Keyes casually told Samantha how he intended to rape her and then strangle her to death with the rope. Then, he did just that.

Keyes left Samantha's body in his shed. Hours later, he flew to New Orleans with his girlfriend and daughter so they could board a planned Caribbean cruise. Meanwhile, Samantha was reported missing and investigators began searching for her - not knowing that her body was hidden in plain sight in Israel Keyes' shed.

Continuing the fa├žade. 

Keyes returned from his family vacation on February 17th, 2012. He knew he had to dispose of Samantha's body, which was still in his shed. First, though, he decided to try and get the ransom money from her family. It was wintertime in Alaska, with freezing temperatures that left Samantha's body frozen inside the shed. This helped preserve her body. Keyes put makeup on her face and then sewed her eyelids open to make her appear alive. 

Then, Keyes took a picture of Samantha next to a newspaper from February 13th. He described this as the "proof-of-life" photograph. While the picture is a bit grainy, it still may appear disturbing to some readers - so it will not be posted in this article. It can be viewed on a separate website here.

In the days that followed, Keyes dismembered Samantha's body and then brought her remains to Matanuska Lake. He cut a hole in the ice before disposing of her in the water. Keyes then continued to act as if he was going to return Samantha alive and unharmed. On February 24th, 2012, he used Samantha's phone to text Duane with instructions to go to the local park, where he had hidden the "proof-of-life" picture and a message demanding $30,000 be placed in Samantha's account.

Just as Keyes had promised Samantha, her family raised money for the ransom. The $30,000 was subsequently deposited into her debit account. Keyes then began using the debit card to make withdrawals from various ATMs. He was careful to conceal himself from surveillance cameras by wearing face coverings. However, in Arizona, he unknowingly parked his rental car in a spot where it was captured by the camera. This ultimately led to Keyes' capture. 

Keyes on ATM surveillance (cbsnews.com)


The Why.

When Keyes confessed to killing Samantha, investigators learned that there was no real motive other than Keyes' desire to kill. In the months that followed his arrest, Keyes spoke to investigators several times and said that he had several other victims that he had killed before Samantha. He was very selective about the information he revealed, claiming that he did not want too much publicity surrounding him because he wanted to protect his daughter. Keyes did reveal, though, that he had killed people in several different states - purposely killing people in different locations to avoid linking his victim's cases. 

Investigators knew that they had a serial killer on their hands. Keyes had already been charged with murdering Samantha, but investigators hoped he could give them information that would help them solve other murders as well. Keyes revealed some of his other victims, but was less forthcoming about other cases. In order to try and figure out the identities of Keyes' other victims, investigators dug into Keyes' past to learn more about his life.

Who is Israel Keyes?

Israel Keyes was born in Richmond, Utah. His parents were of Mormon faith. Israel was their second of ten children. By the time he turned five, his family left the Mormon church and moved to Colville, Washington. The family lived in an isolated area inside a small cabin without electricity or running water. 

Keyes' parents homeschooled him and his siblings. At some point, the family began attending services at a church called the Ark, which centered around white supremacist Christian ideology. Later, the family joined another church called the Christian Israel Covenant Church. Much like the Ark, the Christian Israel Covenant Church also deemed that Anglo-Saxons were the superior race that should rule over all other races. Keyes' family interacted with other people from the church on a regular basis, but it appeared that people actively avoided Israel. He often spoke about killing animals and stated he enjoyed doing so. This scared the others, so many of his peers avoided him. 

Eventually, the Keyes family relocated to Smyrna, Maine, where they lived in a mostly Amish community. While there, Keyes decided he no longer identified with the Christian faith. He told his parents he was now an atheist, which triggered an intense argument. His parents ultimately ended up kicking him out of the home and shunning him from the rest of the family. After that, Keyes took an interest in Satanism and began planning to commit a ritualistic murder.

In 1998, Keyes enlisted in the Army. Throughout his time in the service, he was stationed in Fort Lewis and Fort Hood. He also spent many months stationed in Sinai, Egypt.

Keyes while in the Army. (Associated Press)

In 2001, Keyes was discharged from the Army and then moved Neah Bay in Washington. At some point, he met the woman who would end up having his child. The three of them eventually settled in Anchorage, Alaska. 

In 2007, Keyes started a construction business in Alaska. He was working in the construction field when he committed the murder of Samantha Koenig. 

Keyes' killing spree.

Keyes told investigators that he began his killing spree during adulthood. However, investigators believe that he committed his first murders while he was still a teenager living in Colville. A 12 year-old named Julie Harris vanished from the area in 1996, and her remains were found in a nearby wooded area the following year. In 1997, a young girl named Cassie Emerson and her mother were also murdered in Colville. Keyes did not admit to committing these murders, but they remain unsolved and he is the prime suspect.

Keyes claimed he did not murder anyone between the years of 1998 and 2001, while he was in the Army. He said that he resumed killing people after being discharged. Keyes told investigators that he killed four people in Washington state, but he did not reveal the identity of his victims. 

In 2007, a series of crimes occurred in Boca Raton, Florida. The crimes include several murders and an abduction of a woman who was eventually released by her captor. Keyes is the prime suspect in those cases as well. 

Keyes admitted to murdering Bill and Lorraine Currier in Essex, Vermont during June 2011. He said he broke into the couple's home, tied them up, and drove them to an abandoned farmhouse. While there, he shot Bill and then sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine. 

Bill and Lorraine Currier

Keyes claimed that he had buried a "murder kit" near the Currier's home two years before he murdered them. He said he moved the kit to New York after the murders. Investigators later found said kit after his arrest. 

Investigators suspect that Keyes is responsible for some unsolved murders in New York as well. He never admitted to this, but he did admit to robbing several banks, burglarizing houses, and committing arson in several different locations in the United States. He also admits to attempting to rape women while in the Army.

Samantha Koenig was Keyes' final victim. Unfortunately, it was not until Samantha was killed that investigators learned about Keyes and the reign of terror he had brought to several different states. 

Court proceedings.

Keyes was indicted for Samantha's kidnapping and murder after being extradited to Alaska. While behind bars, he tried to bargain with investigators. He said that he would provide information about other victims in exchange for certain information not being revealed to the public. Investigators agreed and began speaking with him several times over the following months.

In May 2012, during a routine court hearing, Keyes attempted to escape. He used wood shavings from a pencil to pick his handcuffs and tried to flee the courtroom. Police ended up tasering him to subdue him and take him back into custody. Keyes would later say he was upset by what he perceived was dishonesty from the prosecutors and his escape attempt was an unplanned reaction to stress. Investigators still continued to talk to him to try and learn about other victims.

source:alaskanewssource.com

On July 20th, 2012, a news station broke the story about Keyes being connected to the disappearances of Bill and Lorraine Currier. As a result, Keyes refused to talk to investigators for two months. He did eventually speak with them again, but he still not reveal all of his victims. 

Keyes' death. 

Unfortunately, Keyes never would reveal the identities of all of his victims. On December 2nd, 2012, Keyes killed himself in his cell. He somehow was able to sneak a razor blade into his cell, which he used to cut his wrists. He also attempted self strangulation. Police found a suicide note under Keyes' body. Investigators describe the note as an "ode to murder", but it did not reveal any information about his other victims. 

Oxygen.com transcribed the contents of the notes as follows:

"Where will you go, you clever little worm, if you bleed your host dry?

Back in your ride, the night is still young, streetlights push back the black I neat rows. Off to the right a graveyard appears, lines of stones, bodies molder below. Turn away quick, bob your head to the seat, as straight through that stop sign you roll loaded truck with lights off slams into you broadside, your flesh smashed as metal explodes.

You may have been free, you loved living your lie, fate had its own scheme crushed like a bug you still die.

Soon, now, you'll join those ranks of dead or your ashes the wind will soon blow. Family and friends will shed a few tears, pretend it's off to heaven you go. But the reality is you were just bones and meat, and with your brain died also your soul.

Send the dying to wait for their death in the comfort of retirement homes, quietly/quickly say "it's for the best" it's best for you so their fate you'll not know. Turn a blind eye back to the screen, soak in your reality shows. Stand in front of your mirror and you preen, in a plastic castle you call home.

Land of the free, land of the lie, land of scheme Americanize! Consume what you don't need, stars you idolize, pursue what you admit is a dream, then it's American die.

Get in your big car, so you can get to work fast, on roads made of dinosaur bones. Punch in on the clock and sit on your ass, playing stupid ass games on your phone. Paper on your wall, says you got smarts. The test that you took told you so, but you would still crawl like the vermin you are, once your precious power grids blown.

Land of the free, land of the lie, land of the scheme, Americanize.

Now that I have you held tight I will tell you a story, speak soft in your ear so you know that it's true. You're my love at first sight and though you're scared to be near me, my words penetrate your thoughts now in an intimate prelude.

I looked in your eyes, they were so dark, warm and trusting, as though you had not a worry or care. The more guiless [sic] the game the better potential to fill up those pools with your fear.

Your face framed in dark curls like a portrait, the sun shone through highlights of red. What color I wonder, and how straight will it turn plastered back with the sweat of your blood.

Your wet lips were a promise of a secret unspoken, nervous laugh as it burst like a pulse of blood from your throat. There will be no more laughter here.

I feel your body tense up, my hand now on your shoulder, your eyes…Forget the lady called luck she does not abide near me for her powers don't extend to those who are dead.

[illegible words] would that I could keep you, let you be the master of your own fate...knowing full well what's at stake? My pretty captive butterfly colorful wings my hand smears...I somehow repaint them with punishment and tears.

Violent metamorphosis, emerge my dark moth princess, I would come often and worship on the altar of your flesh…You shudder with revulstion [sic] and try to shrink far from me. I'll have you tied down and begging to become my Stockholm sweetie.

Okay, talk is over, words are placid and weak. Back it with action or it all comes off cheap. Watch close while I work now, feel the electric shock of my touch, open my trembling flower, or your petals I'll crush."

The family of Samantha Koenig never got to see justice for her murder. Nor did any of Keyes' other victims.

Investigators are still hoping to identify Keyes' other victims. If you have any information that may help identify them, please submit a tip with the FBI.
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Sources:

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Disappearance of Christina Powell

 

Christina Powell (39) went missing on July 5th, 2022. The mother-of-two was last seen leaving her home for her job as a paralegal. At the time, Christina lived in her San Antonio, Texas residence with her oldest son and her mother, Claudia Mobley. According to Claudia, Christina was running late to work that morning and left the house in a hurry. In her rush to get out the door, Christina left her cell phone and her Apple Watch behind. She never made it to work and has not been seen or heard from again.

Christina leaving her residence on July 5th, (source: mirror.co.uk)

After Christina did not show up at her job at the law firm, a co-worker drove to her house to check on her. The co-worker knocked on the door and was greeted by Christina's 12-year-old son, who said that Christina was not home. He believed that she was at work. However, once the co-worker showed up to inquire about Christina's whereabouts, it became clear that she never arrived. Since Christina left her phone at home, there was no way to get in touch with her. This was inevitably concerning for Christina's loved ones. Police were later contacted after Christina did not return home.

According to Christina's mother Claudia, the night before Christina's disappearance was a lowkey night. It was the 4th of July, and the holiday reportedly marked a sad milestone for Christina. By Claudia's account, Christina's ex-boyfriend left and took their young child with him on July 4th in 2021. The date was reportedly tough for Christina, so she decided to stay in the evening before she vanished. 

Claudia also said that Christina and the ex-boyfriend got into an argument via text message on July 3rd-- just two days before Christina's disappearance. Still, Claudia does not believe said ex-boyfriend is involved in Christina's case. According to investigators, he is cooperating and is not considered a person of interest at this time. 

Christina was driving a Nissan when she left her residence, which is missing along with her. Additionally, Christina's missing persons poster states that she has a medical condition that requires daily medication that was not in her possession when she left. Her loved ones are very concerned for her safety.

If you have any information that could lead to Christina's whereabouts, please call the SAPD Missing Persons Unit at 210-207-7660.
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UPDATE: 

Christina has been found deceased.

On July 25th, 2022, it was announced that Christina was found deceased inside her vehicle. The car was parked in a shopping center located near Christina's residence. Reports state Christina's body was in the passenger seat of the car.

It is believed that both Christina and the car had been there for over a week before being discovered. Investigators are currently working to determine Christina's cause and manner of death.

Rest in peace, Christina. 

Sources:

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Murders of Kathy and Samantha Netherland

 

Kathy Netherland (48) and her daughter Samantha Netherland (16) were found brutally murdered inside their Bardstown, Kentucky home on April 22nd, 2014. The two were found by Kathy's father Norris Hardin, after he was notified that Kathy had not shown up for work. When Norris arrived at their home, he peered through the window and saw Kathy on the floor of the dining room. He ran around back and saw Samantha. Police were called, and first responders immediately rushed to the scene.

Both Kathy and Samantha were brutally beaten, and their throats were slit. Autopsies confirmed that Kathy died from several gunshot wounds, while Samantha had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death. The brutal murders of the mother and daughter shocked the community in Bardstown. Those who knew Kathy and Samantha have struggled to understand why anyone would kill them. Kathy was a beloved special education teacher Bardstown Elementary. Samantha was a quiet, smart, and kind young girl who enjoyed singing in her high school choir. She was looking forward to attending junior prom with her first boyfriend. By all accounts, Kathy and Samantha were great people who were loved by many. 

Unfortunately, the deaths of Kathy and Samantha were not the only tragedy that the family had faced in recent years. Less than a year earlier, in July 2013, Kathy's husband Bob Netherland died of colon cancer. This left Samantha and the Netherland's older daughter, Holly, without a father. After Kathy and Samantha were killed, Holly was left without her both of her parents and her sister. 

Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about who killed Kathy and Samantha, and why. Theories have ranged from someone known to them being the perpetrator, to their killings being part of an ongoing series of corruption in the town of Bardstown. 

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The family.

It's safe to say that anyone familiar with true crime knows that in a murder investigation, detectives often look first at those closest to the victims. In many cases, it is not unusual for a spouse and/or significant other to end up being involved. However, Kathy's husband/Samantha and Holly's father passed away months before Kathy and Samantha were killed. Kathy had not began dating anyone new since her husband's passing. Samantha's boyfriend was also just a sophomore in high school at the time of the murder, and he was cleared of suspicion.

According to Kathy's sister, Stacy Hibbard, the only person with something to gain from the deaths of Kathy and Samantha is Holly Netherland. After Bob Netherland passed away, Kathy raised her life insurance so both Holly and Samantha could be covered if something happened to her. Additionally, Kathy and Holly had an, at times, volatile relationship. Just two days before the murders of her mother and sister, Holly tweeted, "Ur words went way too far this time ull b lucky if I decide to come home."

Still, there is no known evidence that Holly's troubles with her family were not just typical troubles that many older teens/young adults have with their parents. According to Stacy Hibbard, Holly was actually unaware that Kathy had raised her life insurance policy prior to her death - which rules out money being a motive for Holly to want her mother and sister gone. Reports state that Holly was heavily scrutinized by police, but has never been arrested or even publicly named as a suspect. 

Stacy told reporters that Holly has been ruled out as a suspect, but police have not confirmed this. When reporters asked police if Holly was ruled out, an officer responded, "We’re not going to say whether there’s any potential suspects or we’ve ruled anybody out. Everybody continues to remain a possible suspect.”

Potential gang-related activity.

In 2018, reports began to surface about the murders of Kathy and Samantha potentially being gang-related. That same year, a docu-series about another young woman from Bardstown aired, titled The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers. The series investigates the disappearance of a young woman named Crystal, but it also touches on numerous other unsolved crimes in Bardstown.

During the finale of the docu-series, Stephanie Bauer spoke an anonymous inmate who said that the murders of Kathy and Samantha were part of a gang initiation. While Kathy and Samantha themselves did not have any known connection to gangs, the anonymous inmate claimed they were killed by people being initiated into a gang. 

When the reporter asked how he knew it was an initiation, he explained that a cellphone jammer was placed by the Netherland's front door to kill all the cellphone signal in the house. He also explained, "I know they was tortured. I know that they were tied to their chairs. I know that one of 'em had her throat slit. They was stabbed, and one was shot. I know that trinkets were taken as trophies."

The Netherland home. (wave3.com)

Reporters also spoke to Holly, who could not confirm the rumors about the gang initiation - but she said that it was certainly a possibility. When the reporters mentioned the cellphone jammer, Holly was particularly struck by this detail. She explained, "I mean, that would explain why they didn't get a call off because I know my mom always had a phone in her hand. Samantha, she ... I'd like to think that if something happened to Mom that she would have tried to get a call off. ... She would have had [a cellphone]."

Investigators have never confirmed the gang initiation theory. When these reports first surfaced in 2018, the Kentucky State Police said they were investigating these claims. It's unclear if they are still following these leads to present day.

The car.

On the evening of Kathy and Samantha's murders, a black Chevy Impala was captured on surveillance footage. According to reports, the car was traveling north on U.S. 150 from Botland into Bardstown. The car was also captured near the Netherland home that night. Police believe that the person(s) inside that vehicle are either responsible for the murders or know who committed the murders.

The black Chevy Impala.

Police have never located the car, or the driver. Still, the Kentucky police are adamant that the occupants of the vehicle witnessed something on the night Kathy and Samantha were killed. In 2019, a trooper is quoted saying, "whoever was in that car was in that house during the time this crime was committed."

Link to other unsolved cases. 

A little less than a year before Kathy and Samantha were killed, another Bardstown local was murdered: Jason Ellis, a Bardstown police officer. 


Ellis was driving home on May 25th, 2013, when police say he was ambushed. In a description from WAVE 3, "[Ellis] was taking Exit 34 off the Bluegrass Parkway where he stopped to remove tree branches blocking his path. The killer is believed to have shot him from a nearby hill."

Many speculated that the murders of Kathy and Samantha were related to Ellis' murder. Ellis reportedly had a son with down's syndrome, and there was speculation that said son was one was Kathy's students. This connection does not explain why Kathy, Samantha, and Ellis all ended up murdered - but it was certainly worth noting to investigators. Since none of the above have been solved, the potential connection between the three murders has not yet been ruled out.

Two years after these murders, another mystery occurred in Bardstown. This time, it was a disappearance. A 35 year-old mother named Crystal Rogers vanished on July 3rd, 2015. 


Crystal was last seen at her home, where she lived with her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, their two-year-old son, and her other four children. According to Brooks, Crystal was playing games on her phone when he went to bed on the evening of July 3rd, 2015. When he awoke the next morning, both Crystal and her car were gone. She has never been seen or heard from again.

Brooks is a suspect in the case, but he has never been arrested or charged with anything related to Crystal's case. As previously mentioned, Crystal's case was the subject of a docu-series on Oxygen. The murders of Kathy and Samantha were mentioned and discussed on the show, as the series touches on the various unsolved crimes in Bardstown. 

The series also mentions the murder of Jason Ellis, as Ellis was a Bardstown police officer. Also a Bardstown town police officer: Nick Houck - brother of Brooks Houck. Nick Houck was eventually fired from the police force after allegedly interfering with the investigation into Crystal's disappearance. 

Sixteen months after Crystal vanished, her father, Tommy Ballard, was shot and killed by an unknown gunmen. He was hunting with his grandson on family property when he was struck in the chest. The grandson has been ruled out in the case, but no other suspects have been named.

From the years of 2013-2016, several murders and a disappearance occurred in the small community of Bardstown. There is inevitable suspicion that all cases are related - as they all remain unsolved - but this has yet to be confirmed. Due to the number of police officers involved in the various cases, there is speculation that the reason none of these cases have been solved is because there is corruption happening amongst the police force. 

Where the Netherland case stands today.

As of 2022, the murders of Kathy and Samantha Netherland remain unsolved. There is a $50,000 reward available for information that could lead to the killer(s). If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call Kentucky State Police at 270-766-5078.

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Sources:

The Murder of Yvonne Torch

image source The morning of June 9th, 2004  began as a regular day for Yvonne Torch . The 31-year-old woman went to work that day at her bus...