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Body in icy lake is missing Alaska barista, police say

Mark Thiessen / AP

FBI Special Agent in Charge Mary Rook addresses a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Divers searching an icy Alaska lake found a body they believe is of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, who was abducted two months ago from a drive-up coffee stand, authorities said Monday.

A dive team recovered the body in icy Matanuska Lake, about 35 miles northeast of Anchorage, Police Chief Mark Mew told reporters at a news conference, and will conduct forensic tests to confirm that it belongs to Samantha Koenig.

Investigators believe she died within hours of her Feb. 1 abduction from the Anchorage coffee stand, Mew said.

"Investigators further believe that the person responsible for Samantha's death acted alone, and we're confident we have that person in custody," he said, adding that charges for Koenig's kidnapping and murder "will be forthcoming."

The sole person held in connection with Koenig's disappearance is Israel Keyes, a 34-year-old Anchorage construction contractor.

He was arrested last month in Lufkin, Texas, and charged in federal court with illegally using another person's bank card to withdraw cash in various states. He has pleaded innocent and was being held without bail.


Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in this police file image.

Koenig was forced from her coffee stand at the end of her evening shift by what appeared to be an armed man, according to security-camera video. The video was not publicly distributed, but police said it showed a thin white man abducting the barista.

Self-defense lessons
The case has gained a lot of attention in Anchorage. Posters of Koenig have been prominently displayed around town and family members and friends established a reward fund for information leading to her return. Supporters have held candlelight vigils for the missing teen, and volunteers have offered self-defense lessons to other Anchorage baristas.

Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the FBI's Anchorage Division said investigators believed there was no connection between the abductor and the Koenig family, according to NBC News Alaska affiliate KTUU.com.

KTUU.com: Samantha Koenig's Body Found in Matanuska Lake

Rook credited callers and officials who provided information in the case from Alaska, as well as the Lower 48, for their role in the investigation.


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

"We received hundreds of phone calls from people in Anchorage and from many locations across the Lower 48," Rook said.

"Likewise, when assistance was required in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, local, state and federal authorities moved quickly to support and move this investigation forward. In fact, were it not for the efforts of several very alert and dedicated Texas law enforcement officers, Samantha's abductor may still be at large."

NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

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