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Texas arrest in case of abducted 18-year-old Alaska barista

AP

This undated handout photo provided by the Anchorage Police Department shows 34-year-old Israel Keyes.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A man has been arrested in Texas in connection with the disappearance of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from a drive-up Alaska coffee stand six weeks ago, police said on Thursday.

Israel Keyes, the owner of an Anchorage construction company whose website says he served three years in the U.S. Army and moved to Alaska in 2007, was arrested on Tuesday in Lufkin, Texas.


He was identified as a "person on interest" in the disappearance of Samantha Koenig, who was seized from the coffee stand on February 1, the Anchorage Police Department said in a statement.

 

 

She is still missing, and police remain hopeful she is alive.

Keyes' arrest was coordinated by Anchorage police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, local law-enforcement agencies in Lufkin and the Texas Rangers, according to the statement.

NBC News affiliate KTUU's Ted Land reports on Israel Keyes' background

He was being held at a federal facility in Beaumont, Texas, Anchorage police said. Details of the charges against Keyes were not released, and the federal arrest warrant was sealed, police said.

AP

Police say there is little doubt barista Samantha Koenig, 18, was abducted after she closed up a coffee stand Wednesday night.

Koenig's whereabouts remain unknown and the public was still being asked to supply any potential information, Anchorage police said.

Koenig was abducted as she finished her evening barista shift in an incident recorded on the coffee stand's video camera.

Posters identifying her as kidnapped are displayed around Anchorage. Friends and supporters held a candlelight vigil two weeks after her disappearance, and a reward fund has been established by her father and others for information leading to her safe return.

Det. Slawomir Markiewicz told the Anchorage Daily News that two Anchorage detectives had been in Texas for several days prior to the arrest working on the case.

The Daily News reported that Markiewicz would not say if Keyes matched the description of the man seen in the video.

"He's the only person we charged, and the only person of interest," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "And the biggest thing at this time is that we haven't found Samantha Koenig and we don't know her whereabouts."

Missing barista abducted from coffee stand, Anchorage police say

The Anchorage detectives will remain in Texas for several more days serving search warrants, he said. When asked if the arrest meant police are closer now to finding Koenig, Markiewicz replied, "Of course."

Keyes, who has also lived in Washington state, was arrested in a restaurant parking lot in front of onlookers, according to Lufkin television station KTRE which first reported the story.

It said he was first pulled over after committing a traffic violation, following which investigators found enough evidence in the vehicle to arrest Keyes for suspected kidnapping, it reported.

Keyes' website says he moved to Alaska in 2007 and is "yet to have a dissatisfied customer". There was no answer at the Anchorage telephone number on the website when msnbc.com called.

The Anchorage Daily News said neither Markiewicz nor Koenig's father know how Keyes might have known Koenig.

"We haven't found evidence linking him to her," Markiewicz told the newspaper. "We don't know if he knew her before (she disappeared)."

He added: "As I've said before, I believe this case will be solved. This is a step toward that goal, a big step."

Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.