(NEW YORK) — Serial killer Israel Keyes was willing to make a deal. He would give investigators the location of two bodies, a name and maybe, if he felt like it, a murder weapon. The price? A cigar, he said cheerfully.
In roughly 15 hours of newly released audio from jailhouse interviews with Keyes, the calculated killer discussed his motives, triggers and limits as he teased investigators with tidbits of information about up to a dozen other killings around the country.
He chuckled at the memory of his crimes and teased the cops about what he knew, but refused to give up the details unless they agreed to execute him within a year so his young daughter would not have to grow up with her father in prison. Without that promise he kept silent — except for an occasional cigar.
The interviews with FBI agents, prosecutors and Anchorage police began after Keyes was arrested in March 2012 for the murder of Alaskan barista Samantha Koenig. His capture ended more than a decade of traveling around the country to kill as many as 12 people or to prepare for future crimes by burying murder kits of weapons, cash and body disposal tools.
The interviews with Keyes abruptly ended when his halting confessions leaked out and he committed suicide in his jail cell on Dec. 1, leaving police to fill in the blanks without his help.
FBI Special Agent Eric Gonzalez told ABC News that investigators are still working on the case, but have not made any significant developments since Keyes’ death.
Audio tapes of 13 of the interviews were released this week after the Alaska Dispatch filed a motion for them to be unsealed. The released interviews were conducted between April and July 2012.
A mostly jovial Keyes, 34, calmly and cavalierly chatted with investigators in the sessions, but made it abundantly clear throughout every conversation that he was in charge.
“I’m not a person that can be bullied and at this point I don’t care,” Keyes told investigators on April 2. “There’s not anything they can threaten me with or say to me or take away from me or give me, except for what I want, that is going to make me do what they want. I’m happy to help, but it’s on my terms.”
His frequently repeated main desire was to do whatever could be done to “expedite” proceedings. He was determined to get an execution date within a year of the conversations.
“I want an execution date…I want this whole thing wrapped up and over with as soon as possible,” he said on April 6. “I’ll give you every single gory detail you want, but that’s what I want because I want my kid to have a chance to grow up. She’s in a safe place now. She’s not going to see any of this. I want her to have a chance to grow up and not have all this hanging over her head.”
Keyes taunted officials by telling them that with his computer they would slowly find things out and start to connect the dots, but that he could save them time and money if they abided by his demands.
“They’re going to find things, but they’re not going to find enough,” Keyes said. “A few words out of my mouth can save them hundreds, if not thousands, of hours investigating. The reason I’m doing this is because I know…I always knew that I was playing for keeps and I knew that this was inevitable.”
The investigators appeased Keyes at every turn, working hard to gain his trust in order to get information.
On April 6, authorities explained to Keyes again that they could not help him or work with him unless he gave them some concrete information to keep them on the investigation. At this point, they only knew specifically about the Koenig murder.
“Give me something to work with,” one investigator said to Keyes. “Hold a bunch of your cards back, but give me a card.”
After a very long pause, Keyes agreed.
“All right,” he said. “I’ll give you two bodies and a name…I can give you one of the murder weapons and the rest of the story, like everything that happened, but I’m not going to give you the rest [today].”
He stopped and then added with a chilling levity, “If I get a cigar.”
The authorities obliged, even asking if he wanted to smoke the cigar before or after the conversation.
“I’ll do half a smoke before and if I can get the rest of it afterward,” Keyes said.
After the smoke break, Keyes gave them the name, “Currier.” It was the last name of a Vermont couple, Bill and Lorraine Currier, who had vanished in June 2011. He then used a Google map to show where their house was in Vermont and the place where their bodies could be found.
Eleven days later, Keyes was back in the investigation room discussing what happened while he was in Texas after the Koenig murder. He went there to get rid of the murder weapons and was arrested there.
Police knew he had robbed a bank while he was in Texas, but he offered to tell them more.
“If you want, I can give you arson in Texas. I burned a house down, but I want a cigar for it,” he said before laughing.
Keyes described how he was “kind of out of control a little bit” after all of the attention he received for the Koenig case. He told authorities that his original goal had always been to avoid any attention for his crimes, but once he tasted publicity, he found himself feeling “high” on it and wanting more. He described getting sloppy with checking the news for coverage of the crime.
“[I was] amped up and decided that I wanted to go out and do something, preferably take someone,” he said.
In the interviews, Keyes frequently — and casually — used the term “take someone” for the activity of abducting a random person, taking them somewhere and murdering them.
“I was going to grab somebody from an ATM and take them to a house, but there were a lot of cops in Texas so I guess I kind of chickened out a little bit,” he told investigators with a hint of embarrassment.
Keyes described an urge that would come over him every so often to “do something,” whether it be a robbery, arson or murder. Doing one of these would usually quell the desire for a period of time, but he found himself wanting more as his crimes got more attention. It was at this point that he began to unravel.
“After the stuff in Alaska, I couldn’t concentrate anymore on anything but that sort of thing, and just lost interest in work and whatever day-to-day stuff there was,” Keyes said. “That’s always the reason I’ve done the kind of things I’ve done, mostly for the adrenaline if not really for money.”
“It’s not so much why I did it, it’s just more like, why not?” he said.
When Keyes had previously wanted to check on publicity, he would be very careful to drive to libraries to use the computer or use computers at airports when he was traveling.
But as he grew addicted to the attention, he said he would find himself having a few glasses of whiskey late at night at home and using his own computer to scan the publicity.
“I knew that I was getting stupid, I guess,” he said.
In a particularly reflective session with investigators on April 17, he opened up about his motives and a limit that surprised even himself.
“The one thing I won’t do is mess with kids. That’s another thing that kind of goes back to me starting to feel like I was losing control a little bit because I had never really thought that way until I had [my daughter],” he said. “After she was born, something kind of changed in the way I thought.”
The brief glimpse of mercy from a seemingly merciless man was gone minutes later when he went back talking about “looking for a guy to carjack.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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