Israel Keyes - Serial Killer (recommended book and podcast)

Approaching Infinity

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Only recently I found out about Israel Keyes, an American serial killer who was caught back in 2012 and who committed suicide in jail. Wanting to learn a bit more about the case, I read Maureen Callahan's book on him. I didn't like the writing style of the book, but the content was worth it. Several weeks ago we did a MindMatters show on it. For those who haven't checked that out, here it is:


Keyes is an interesting case study because for years he was completely successful at what he was doing. No one even suspected there was a serial killer on the loose, and none of his victims were connected. Unfortunately, he was very careful about the information he told the FBI during interrogations. It's possible he killed dozens of people, but he's only been definitively tied to around 4. He would meticulously plan everything, often kidnapping a victim (or victims) in one state, killing them in another, and then disposing of their bodies in a third location. Police only ever recovered one of this victims, because he told them where to find her body. They recovered a couple bones connected with one of his other murders, again, because he told them where to look. But all his other victims simply got classified as missing people, and most remain so because there's no firm evidence to tie them to him.

Like a lot of the serial killers covered in Whoever Fights Monsters, his crimes were sexually motivated (and the Mindhunter series). He liked Ted Bundy and especially H.H. Holmes (but thought BTK was a hack). He realized early in life that he was different, but only after assuming everyone was like him and just pretending not to be. After reading some FBI profiler books on serial killers, he realized what he was, and from then on developed a mask of sanity to keep his true nature secret. (He was a successful handyman/contractor, a good father, well-respected, etc.) Luckily before he committed suicide, the FBI interviewed Keys multiple times. I think there were something like 30 hours recorded. We read a few excerpts on the MindMatters show (you can find about 6 hours on YouTube).

If anyone is interested in digging deeper, a YouTube commenter recommended a podcast that I've been listening to and highly recommend: "True Crime Bullsh**". (That's what Keyes called true crime shows in one of his interrogations.)


The podcaster, Josh Hallmark, did a TON of research for this, using thousands of pages of FOIA docs and the recordings. Some of the first few episodes are kind of annoying, but after a while he gets around to just sticking to his investigation, and that's where the really interesting stuff is. He traces Keyes's movements between states, correlating them with known missing persons cases and coming up with several that may have been victims of Keyes. Sounds like he did as much or more work on the case as the FBI. He also includes lots of clips from the interrogations so you can hear Keyes in his own words. Those are some of the creepiest bits, in part because Keyes sounds so otherwise normal. But like a true psychopath, he talks about his crimes as if he's talking about making dinner or going shopping - absolutely zero empathy.

There are also some weird aspects to the case, which we got into a bit at the end of the MindMatters show. After learning that Keyes knew how to make bombs, the FBI reclassified his case as relating to terrorism and national security. No one knows any of the details of what they discovered, but significant portions of the documents are still redacted and no one's talking.
 

Mariama

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He also includes lots of clips from the interrogations so you can hear Keyes in his own words. Those are some of the creepiest bits, in part because Keyes sounds so otherwise normal. But like a true psychopath, he talks about his crimes as if he's talking about making dinner or going shopping - absolutely zero empathy.
I watched the Jody Arias trial (the woman who stabbed her ex-boy-friend about 30 times, slit his throat and almost decapitated him and then shot him in the head, leaving him to rot in his shower - literally) and as someone said she talked about the murder as if she was talking about a school project. She used every trick in the book to get away with murder, she even accused the deceased of domestic violence and pedophilia even though no evidence was found. At the end of the trial she even claimed that the victim was still conscious when she slit his throat and then turned around while saying this (to look at his family?). She has given interviews to the media and from prison she is still wreaking havoc, taking revenge on the prosecutor (who could read her like a book) and hoping for a retrial as he is accused of misconduct. It is mind-boggling what these psychopaths get up to. I have read Whoever Fights Monsters and thought it was a very hard read, just like watching Jody Arias on trial.

But all his other victims simply got classified as missing people, and most remain so because there's no firm evidence to tie them to him.
I think it is interesting that some criminals try to get away with murder, claiming that the husband or wife they murdered has gone off with a new partner and so on. How many 'missing' persons (including children) are actually murdered, whose bodies will never be found?
 

Anthony

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Like a lot of the serial killers covered in Whoever Fights Monsters, his crimes were sexually motivated (and the Mindhunter series). He liked Ted Bundy and especially H.H. Holmes (but thought BTK was a hack). He realized early in life that he was different, but only after assuming everyone was like him and just pretending not to be. After reading some FBI profiler books on serial killers, he realized what he was, and from then on developed a mask of sanity to keep his true nature secret. (He was a successful handyman/contractor, a good father, well-respected, etc.) Luckily before he committed suicide, the FBI interviewed Keys multiple times. I think there were something like 30 hours recorded. We read a few excerpts on the MindMatters show (you can find about 6 hours on YouTube).
It's like an opposite of what souled individuals do in attempting to grow. Individuals like Keys seem to be actively pursuing a STS path. The above/below principle can really be seen at work in our personal lives, and extremely psychopathic individuals are like a microcosm of STS principles.

Great show guys.
 

Laura

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It's just nuts to read about these types.

The other day, I got an article notification by email from a science site I'm subscribed to. The article was titled something like "The Source of the Belief in Evil Discovered?" Well, their take on it was that illness was the reason people believed that evil existed.

Good thing I wasn't drinking tea at the time or I would have snorted it out my nose!
 
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