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Israel Keyes. Photo: FBI
Israel Keyes. Photo: FBI

FBI: Serial killer's victims number "less than 12"

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FBI officials now say the serial killer who spent time in the North Country and in Vermont may have murdered as many as eleven people.

Israel Keyes committed suicide eight days ago in a prison cell in Anchorage, Alaska. He left behind troubling questions about his activities in our region, and the identities of his possible victims.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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In an effort to win the public's help piecing together Israel Keyes' activities, the FBI is releasing audio of their extensive interviews with the man who confessed to killing two people in Vermont and robbing a bank in Tupper Lake.

There is no one who knows me, or has ever known me, who knows anything about me really. --Israel Keyes
In a recording acquired by ABC News, Keyes is asked by an FBI agent how long his murder spree lasted.

"How long have you been two different people?" the investigator asks.

Keyes laughs and answers, "Long time. Fourteen years."

Keyes, who was 34 years old when he killed himself earlier this month, concealed what he called "murder kits" in Parishville, in St. Lawrence County, and also in Vermont.

He also told authorities that he worked carefully to keep his double life hidden, traveling and searching out victims over a wide area.

"There is no one who knows me, or has ever known me, who knows anything about me really," Keyes said, describing himself as "two different people basically."

FBI says this "kill kit" Keyes created was recovered in St. Lawrence County. Photo: FBI
FBI says this "kill kit" Keyes created was recovered in St. Lawrence County. Photo: FBI
FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez is part of the team in Anchorage, Alaska, that interrogated Keyes. He says Keyes clearly planned to continue hunting people as long as he could get away with it.

Keyes claimed that one of his victims was buried here in the North Country.

"Keyes would fly into a city like Chicago and then drive hundreds of miles to seek his targets. So it's not certain if they were residents of New York or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Keyes funeral was held yesterday in Washington state. His suicide will make it much harder to piece together exactly how many people he killed.

The FBI now says that from various statements he made, the number of victims is likely "less than 12".

Meanwhile, more information is emerging about Keyes background.

A group called the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes and hate groups in the US, says the killer had early ties to radical organizations.

Friends of Keyes are currently serving prison time for murder.

But it appears that Keyes had distanced himself from those organizations in recent years and Law Center spokesman Mark Potok says there's no indication that Keyes had a political or racial motive.

"We turned up nothing in our reporting to suggest that Keyes had contacts with any people or political work as he traveled around the country. My impression is that he was very much a loner. It doesn't appear that he had help of any kind."

FBI officials say Keyes chief motivation was excitement. While speaking to investigators, he described the experience of murdering people as a kind of "high".

One troubling uncertainty about this case is that Keyes described his strategy for choosing victims as involving attacks in out-of-the-way places like campgrounds and boat launches. But so far, none of his known victims match that profile.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting accounts of how much time Keyes spent here in the North Country. The Plattsburgh Press-Republican is reporting that no one saw him at property he owned in northern Franklin County – a remote, ten-acre chunk of land in the town of Constable.

But the Burlington Free Press is reporting that Keyes lived on the property for a time in the 1990s and quotes an FBI agent as saying that killer visited regularly when he was in the East and was fond of the area.

The FBI is asking anyone with information about Keyes or his activities in our region to call a toll-free number: 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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