By Jason Lamb and Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
2:51 PM AKDT, March 27, 2012
The Anchorage Police Department officially confirmed Tuesday afternoon that investigators believe Israel Keyes, the man previously described as a “person of interest” in the Feb. 1 abduction of Samantha Koenig, was involved in the 18-year-old barista's disappearance.
APD Chief Mark Mew and U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler spoke to the media shortly after Keyes was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Anchorage on charges related to the alleged use of a debit card stolen from another man’s vehicle, hours after Koenig was last seen.
Keyes, 34, pleaded not guilty to a charge of access device fraud, a charge commonly related to identity theft, on which he was indicted Thursday by a grand jury. He kept his head lowered for much of the arraignment, only glancing back a few times toward the crowd behind him in the courtroom.
Keyes' voice quivered as he explained that he couldn't afford an attorney, telling the court that even if he sold all of his assets -- including tools he used on the job with his business, Keyes Construction -- he would still be in debt. A trial date was set for May 21, and Keyes was ordered detained by U.S. Marshals without bail.
Keyes was arrested March 13 in Lufkin, Texas by local authorities in conjunction with the Anchorage Police Department and the FBI. Court documents claim Keyes used the stolen debit card in several Anchorage locations as well as in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest.
After Keyes waived his right to hearings in Texas, he was transported to Anchorage by U.S. Marshals over the weekend from a federal facility in Beaumont, Texas, leaving Friday and being booked into the Anchorage Correctional Complex Monday afternoon.
Koenig was initially reported missing to APD in February, but officials subsequently said a surveillance video from Midtown coffee stand Common Grounds Espresso showed her being abducted by an armed man. While officials have refused to release the video citing a need to protect the investigation, investigators have said they’re proceeding under the assumption that Koenig is still alive.
Shortly after Keyes’ arrest, APD Sgt. Slawomir Markiewicz called him “the main figure” in Koenig’s abduction, but no charges have yet been filed against Keyes in the Koenig case.
Shortly after Keyes' arraignment, APD spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker released another photo of a white Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck from model years 2005 through 2009, which Keyes drove while doing Keyes Construction work. The vehicle was seized at Keyes' residence shortly after his arrest, and officials believe a large utility rack mounted on it had been removed at the time of Koenig's abduction.
Authorities are still asking for the public’s help in learning more about both cases. Anyone with information on Koenig’s disappearance, Keyes or his truck -- especially anyone who helped Keyes take the utility rack off his truck, or saw it in the vicinity of Common Grounds on Feb. 1 -- is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
Email Jason Lamb
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