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Are Israel Keyes and Maura Murray Connected? Facts vs. Theories

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Em is an armchair detective who falls asleep listening to true crime podcasts.

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Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know a little something about Maura Murray’s hotly debated and theorized disappearance back in early 2004. Just in case you need a refresher, Murray was 21 years old when she was last seen after a minor car accident in Woodsville, New Hampshire. According to New Hampshire’s cold case unit, when police arrived at the accident, Murray wasn’t there and there’s been no trace of her since.

Did Murray simply walk away to start a new life? Did she succumb to the elements? Or had she become a convenient target for a not-so-good Good Samaritan? Though the police don’t believe she met with the latter, a lot of armchair investigators do. Some of them even believe she might be connected to a serial killer, specifically one with an infamous laugh—the highly irritating Israel Keyes.

Who Is Israel Keyes?

Born in Utah, Israel Keyes grew up homeschooled by his homesteader parents, alongside his eight siblings. By the time he was turning 30 he owned a small construction and contracting business in Alaska. While being held for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig (by the way, don't Google Koenig or Keyes unless you want to see postmortem photos of his victim—they're everywhere) he died by suicide on December 2, 2012, at the age of 34.

Was Israel Keyes Actually a Serial Killer?

Serial killers are defined as having more than three victims that they murder over a period of time. This is different from a spree killer, who commits their crimes with only hours or days between their killings or a mass murderer who kills several people at once. Well, Keyes has only ever been linked without a doubt to the murder of Samantha Koenig in 2012 and is highly suspected of the June 2011 double murder of Bill and Lorraine Currier based on conversations with law enforcement, as well as evidence found on his personal computer and recovered items they believe to be belonging to the Currier's. Beyond these three victims, we don’t know for sure who else, if anyone, was a victim of Keyes, though he led police to believe that he was a cunning killer with a victim count of “under a dozen,” according to interrogation interviews.

His insistence of “under a dozen” gave law enforcement the magic number of eleven, and this vague victim count had Websleuths and Reddit buzzing with possible Keyes/Missing Persons connections, including Murray’s.

Why Would Maura Be Connected to Israel Keys?

The theory here is that when Murray had her car accident in 2004 she met foul play at the hands of Keyes, either because he was in the area and happened across her as a victim of opportunity.

It's also been suggested that Keyes might have stalked her beforehand and made her disappearance look like the result of a car accident since he bragged during police interviews that some of his alleged murders were ruled accidents by law enforcement.

Maura Murray's missing person poster.

Maura Murray's missing person poster.

3 Possible Connection Theories

I’m going to be really upfront here. I don’t think Israel Keyes has squat to do with Maura’s disappearance, but we’ll get to that later. For now, here are the most popular running theories on Keyes/Murray connections.

1. Maura was travelling through Israel’s “stomping grounds.”

According to the internet, Maura’s travels through New Hampshire put her in a prime location to be hunted by Keyes who is said to have favored the east coast. Indeed, he murdered the Curriers in Vermont and was known to have travelled to New Hampshire and New York. However, the Currier murders took place seven years after Maura’s disappearance and could be tracked through flight records and car rentals.

To call the east coast his “stomping grounds” is a solid stretch after a quick study of Keyes’ known movements which rarely brought him to that side of the country in comparison to his time spent in Alaska (the location of his only confirmed murder), California and Washington.

2. Israel was traveling during the week that Murray disappeared.

On February 9, 2004, the same day that Maura disappeared, Keyes was tracked to Utah where he had rented a silver Volkswagen Jetta that was, per the rental policy, not allowed to leave the state.

Over the week of February 6th through the 13th he racked up just over 500 miles on this rental, so we know he couldn’t have used this vehicle to get to New Hampshire, where Murray was last reported to have been seen.

However, some believe that Keyes could have used this rental to drive to and from a nearby airport, hopping a flight to the east coast and giving him enough time to return to Utah following Murray’s disappearance. Keep in mind though that in order to do this, Keyes would have had to have used a name not known to authorities while he traveled, since the FBI has an extensive timeline of his movements using his own name from the summer of 1997 to his death in 2012.

Here's the distance Keyes would have had to have travelled between February 6th and February 9th, 2004 in order to be in the same place as Maura Murray on the 9th.

Here's the distance Keyes would have had to have travelled between February 6th and February 9th, 2004 in order to be in the same place as Maura Murray on the 9th.

3. Israel was known to be in New Hampshire in October of 2004.

Perhaps the most intriguing and least buzzed about Murray/Keyes connection is the fact that the FBI has placed Keyes in Manchester, New Hampshire, from October 6th to the 16th in 2004, only eight months after Murray was last seen.

Even weirder, Manchester is only 105 miles from Woodsville, Murray’s last known location, which is a measly two-hour drive via I-93 from where Keyes was during that fall. Why was he there? We do know that in Koenig’s case, Keyes was straight up creepy in the comments section of news stories following her murder.

Here he uses his own name to comment on a story about Koenig’s disappearance, which, in a way could be viewed as returning to the scene of the crime.

Was he doing this by returning to New Hampshire or was his visit following Maura Murray’s headline-breaking case a total coincidence?

Israel Keyes' drivers license photo and mugshot following his arrest for the murder of Samantha Koenig.

Israel Keyes' drivers license photo and mugshot following his arrest for the murder of Samantha Koenig.

3 Reasons to Doubt a Connection Between Keyes and Murray

And now here are some reasons to doubt a connection between Israel and Maura.

1. Murray’s disappearance was too clean to connect to Keyes.

In Keyes’ only confirmed killing, he kidnapped Koenig from the place where she worked and was wearing a ski mask when he did it, demanded ransom, used Koenig’s bank account, had a run-in with her boyfriend and left those weird comments on news articles before his capture. Oh and the kidnapping was recorded by CCTV.

He was, by all accounts, super freaking sloppy and it only took law enforcement weeks to track him down. In the case of Murray, there isn’t even a sketch of a person of interest, yet alone any forensic evidence linking the two to one another the way we see in the Koenig case.

Add in the Currier's and, while they never recovered the Curriers they did find forensic evidence on Keyes' computer that they feel connects him to their disappearance.

Although killers like Ted Bundy were known to get sloppy towards the end of their crime timeline, there’s no evidence to suggest Keyes was actually ever clever to begin with. If Murray did suffer an awful fate at the hands of another, it was someone with more finesse—and perhaps more resources and connections—than Keyes.

2. We don’t know for sure that Murray met with foul play.

I think, for the sake of Murray’s loved ones, that foul play can’t be ruled out.

The days leading up to her last known whereabouts were strange, to say the least and troublesome if you really let the details simmer for a minute.

It doesn’t add up that one minute she’s witnessed at the site of her crash and the next it’s like she’s vanished into thin air. But the truth is, no one knows for sure what happened to Murray, whether she succumbed to the elements in a secluded area or simply walked away. Without definitive proof of what became of Maura Murray, it’s difficult to connect her to Israel Keyes.

3. There are better suspects for Murray’s disappearance.

If Murray did meet with foul play, there are better suspects than Keyes. I don’t feel at liberty to name those suspects, since the whole thing has turned into a bit of an internet troll circus but a quick Google search will bring up a few legit sources looking into people who were confirmed to be near the scene on the day that Murray was last seen.

And for the sake of Maura, time is likely better spent investigating these leads than chasing the ghost of a murderous narcissist who probably wasn’t as notable as he tried to appear in his last few months.

More About Israel Keyes

Curious to know more? Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about Keyes.

What was Keyes' childhood like?

Keyes grew up homeschooled by his mom Heidi and his dad John Jeffrey alongside his eight brothers and sisters in Colville, Washington in a rather primitive cabin where they all shared a bedroom.

Was Keyes ever married?

No, he wasn't. He had a long term relationship with the mother of his daughter and later, after that relationship ended, a girlfriend who he travelled extensively with and who he was living with at the time of his 2012 arrest.

What is the name of Keyes' daughter and how old is she?

His daughter has never been named publicly and for good reason—she deserves a life outside the shadow of her father's crime(s). According to an Anchorage Daily News article by Michelle Theriault Boots, Keyes was expecting his first (and only known) child when he was released from the army. That was in 2001 so Israel Keyes' daughter is now a young adult in her twenties.

Are there any podcasts about Keyes?

Yes. There is a fantastic serialized audio production by Josh Hallmark titled "True Crime Bullsh**" in which he deep dives into the life and crimes of Israel Keyes. Hallmark analyzes FBI interviews with the killer, interviews psychologists and reveals exclusive info gleaned from his own private conversations with those who knew Keyes.

There are also several standalone podcast episodes about him including:

  • Morbid: A True Crime Podcast / Episodes 62 & 63
  • True Crime Obsessed / Israel Keyes: Method of a Serial Killer
  • Killer Queens: A True Crime Podcast / Episodes 73 & 74
  • Crime Junkie / SERIAL KILLER: Israel Keyes
  • Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad / Israel Keyes
  • Missing Maura Murray/ Episode 72 Israel Keyes Profile (embedded below)

Missing Maura Murrary: Episode 72 Israel Keyes Profile

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Em Clark

Comments

Em Clark (author) on August 21, 2020:

Valid question. Not that I know of but yeah, how convenient that he had lots of sites where he could dig and build without question.

Have anyone through of looking at Israel Keyes construction site on July 08, 2020:

Have anyone through of looking at Israel Keyes construction site