The kidnapping and murder of Samantha Koenig
by Robert A. Waters
Common Grounds Expresso is located at 630 East Tudor Road in Anchorage, Alaska. The rainbow-blue building features a drive-through window, and serves coffee, bagels, smoothies, and other staples to the rush-hour crowd. A pretty barista, also a staple of the business, always mans the booth, usually dressed in colorful costumes and smiles.
Samantha Koenig, 18, brought her personality to the job. Bubbly, full of life, the teenager had been working at Common Grounds for about a month.
James Koenig, her father, said: "She's a sweetheart. She's got the biggest heart and she has genuine love and care for people. She befriends people so easily. Everyone that meets her, they call her their best friend. That's just her personality. She's funny and she loves life."
On Wednesday evening, February 1, 2012, huge banks of snow blocked the stand from the road. At about eight o’clock, Samantha disappeared. When investigators viewed the store's surveillance video, they saw an armed man wearing a hoodie and cap leading the frightened girl away. The two faded from the camera, headed toward Old Seward Highway.
Anchorage police and FBI agents working the case refused to reveal the type of weapon used in the abduction.
Searches in the sub-freezing weather yielded no clues. A reward climbed to $41,000 as Samantha’s father went on television to plead for her safe return.
These kinds of cases rarely have a good ending, and this was no exception.
On April 3, an Anchorage Police Department forensics unit found Samantha’s body under the ice in Matanuska Lake. Again, police remained tight-lipped, giving little information about how they located the body, or how the teenager died.
At the request of Alaskan authorities, Texas Rangers arrested Israel Keyes, an Anchorage businessman, on charges related to the disappearance of Samantha. A police spokesman told reporters that Keyes had fled Anchorage and driven south, using stolen credit cards. Because of a lack of public information, many questions about Keyes remain unanswered.
This much we know: an ice-cold killer boldly abducted Samantha. She was likely dead within hours of the kidnapping. The teen didn't know her attacker--he was a stranger to her. He stole money from the till.
Like so many others, this crime makes little sense.
Some crimes leave you scratching your head.
This is one.