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Originally published December 3, 2012 at 7:40 PM | Page modified December 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

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FBI hunting for Washington victims of self-professed serial killer

The FBI in Washington has opened a "very active" investigation into the claims of self-professed serial killer Israel Keyes, who claimed to have killed four people in Washington before his suicide last weekend in an Anchorage jail.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Audio: Keyes talks to investigators

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The FBI is asking the public for help in tracking the travels of Israel Keyes, a self-professed serial killer who claims he killed four people in Washington between 2001 and 2006.

Keyes, 34, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell Sunday at the Anchorage Correctional Complex while awaiting trial for the kidnapping and slaying of an 18-year-old Anchorage barista in February.

Before his death, Keyes had been cooperating with authorities in connection with several killings around the country, including a Vermont couple who disappeared from their home in June 2011. Keyes provided investigators with information that has convinced them that he is responsible for those killings.

Keyes also told investigators in Alaska that he killed four people in Washington, but names and details are lacking, according to an FBI news release. He said he killed two people in separate incidents sometime in 2005 or 2006, and then "murdered a couple" in the state between 2001 and 2005.

"It is unknown if the victims were residents of Washington or if they were vacationing in Washington but resided in another state," according to a news release out of the FBI's Anchorage office. "It is also possible Keyes abducted them from a nearby state and transported them to Washington."

Keyes was stationed at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) in the late 1990s, and then lived in the Colville area in Stevens County and in Neah Bay, Clallam County, according to residential data.

Frank Harrill, the FBI's senior supervisory agent in Spokane, said Monday the bureau in Washington state has opened a "very active" investigation into Keyes' statements.

"We are pursuing all leads on possible victims," said Ayn Dietrich, the spokeswoman for the FBI's Seattle office.

Agents say Keyes was highly organized and would travel long distances to hunt victims, often using several modes of transportation to cover his trail. Investigators said Keyes confessed to hiding caches of equipment he planned to use in future killings, including weapons and means of disposing of bodies.

The FBI said agents recovered two caches in Eagle River, Alaska, and in Blakes Falls Reservoir in New York.

Keyes moved from Washington to Alaska in March 2007. He also owned property in upstate New York, near the Canadian border.

Keyes, a handyman and owner of a construction company, was scheduled to stand trial in March in federal court for the slaying of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from an Anchorage coffee kiosk. Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said that while in custody Keyes confessed to killing Koenig, as well as Bill and Lorraine Currier, of Essex, Vt.

On Monday, officials confirmed at a news conference in Vermont that Keyes was responsible for the Curriers' deaths, saying Keyes described details that had not been released publicly.

Authorities in Alaska said Keyes flew from Alaska to Chicago with the intent of kidnapping and killing someone, drove to Essex, Vt., chose the Curriers, a couple in their 50s, and broke into their home. Keyes bound them with zip ties, forced them into their car and drove them to an abandoned house, where he shot Bill Currier and sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine Currier.

Their bodies have not been found.

The FBI also released several photographs and a chilling audio clip in which Keyes says he's been "two different people" for at least the past 14 years.

Driver's license and other data show Keyes had addresses in Colville and Neah Bay. A Neah Bay post-office box was in Keyes' name as recently as 2008, according to records.

According to military records, Keyes served in the Army from July 1998 to July 2001. He was stationed at the former Fort Lewis beginning in November 1998.

The website for Keyes' Anchorage construction company says he worked in Washington state in the mid-1990s and then served three years in the Army infantry, stationed at Fort Hood in Texas and Sinai, Egypt, in addition to Fort Lewis.

According to the site, he then worked from 2001 to 2007 for the Makah Tribal Council in Neah Bay before moving to Alaska.

It doesn't appear that Keyes had a felony record in Washington state, but he was cited for driving with a suspended license in Thurston County in January 2002.

Harrill, the Spokane-based FBI agent, said the Washington investigation at this point has not focused on specific victims but rather is looking at known homicides and missing persons and comparing them to the information Keyes has given investigators in Alaska.

According to the FBI news release, Keyes said he frequented parks, campgrounds, trailheads and boating areas looking for victims.

Keyes also had admitted to several bank robberies, two of which have been corroborated, Gonzalez said. Keyes told agents he would use the money to finance his trips to hunt for victims.

Anyone with information on Keyes is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times staff reporter Hal Bernton and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.

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