New Video Footage Shows the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of Modern Times Toying with the FBI

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Aug. 20 2013 5:22 PM

New Video Footage Shows the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of Modern Times Toying with the FBI

Israel Keyes

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The FBI is releasing more and more material in its efforts to gather information about the alleged crimes of Israel Keyes. The Alaska-based serial killer killed himself while in custody last year, leaving much unsaid about at least 11 murders he is said to have committed across the United States. Early last week the FBI released a comprehensive albeit incomplete timeline of Keyes’ suspected criminal activity, which I wrote about here. But the FBI has also released six hours’ worth of video footage of Keyes being interviewed with authorities. The tapes offer a look inside the mind of one of the most bloodless serial killers of modern times—though perhaps not in the way you’d think.

There’s nothing theatrical about the tapes. Tempers don’t flare, chairs aren’t thrown. And, really, there’s no reason to expect Keyes to be slavering like some horror-movie villain. In fact, the tapes are notable for their mundanity, and there even seems to be a bit of a rapport between Keyes and the various law enforcement officials. The officers offer Keyes food, and regularly ask him if he needs to go and “take a leak.” (He does not.)


Throughout the tapes, Keyes is calm, and detached, and obsessed with maintaining as much control over the situation as he can. He does this by withholding information about the crimes he said he committed. He says that he’s doing this because he doesn’t want his family to find out about the things he’s done. But, often, it seems like he just likes making officers of the law beg for his cooperation. Here he is, talking about the authorities’ unsuccessful efforts to locate the body of one of Keyes’ victims from New York state:

PAYNE: One of the best analogies I’ve heard for it is it’s more like an archeological dig, uh, now it is just kinda tossing things…
KEYES: Right.
PAYNE: … until you find what you think you’re looking for.
KEYES: Yeah, that’s a lot of trouble to go to. I almost feel guilty (chuckles). Costing the tax payers a lot of money to find them (chuckles).
PAYNE: Well …
BELL: But that …
KEYES: Coulda just kept my mouth shut (chuckles). 

Though it really feels like Keyes is enjoying himself, the officers remain calm because they need the information that’s inside the killer’s brain. And in the five tapes, which were shot between May 2012 and November 2012, you can feel the officers getting a little bit irritated with Keyes’ failure to give them any usable data:

KEYES: I know I don’t have any rights in this situation. I—all I have is information. So now you’re upset with me that I wanna control the information so I …
FELDIS No, I’m not—I’m not upset—upset with you. I said I’m—I started here by saying, you know, it’s more depressing and yet there’s frustration. But I mean I - I – I …
KEYES There’s gonna be a lot of frustration before this is all over but I mean there—it’s already been years of frustration for a lot of people. So they’re gonna have to learn to live with it for a little bit longer.

The wait continues, which is why the FBI is now releasing all of this information, in hopes that members of the public can help them fill in some of the gaps. “That fact that Keyes is dead makes it more difficult for us,” an Anchorage FBI agent said in a FBI press release, “but the investigation absolutely continues.” Give the tapes a look and see if you can help.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:09 PM Vince Vaughn Will Star in True Detective Season 2
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 1:38 PM Why Is Fall Red in America but Yellow in Europe? A possible explanation, 35 million years in the making.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.