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Police search barista murder suspect's' property in 2 states

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 11:48 am | Updated: 11:52 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - FBI agents this week executed two search warrants more than 4,000 miles apart, looking for clues at the Anchorage home of a man charged with murdering an 18-year-old barista and at property he owns in upstate New York.

Officials would not disclose what they were looking for or what they might have found at either property. Israel Keyes, 34, remains jailed in Anchorage, accused of killing Samantha Koenig.

Eric Gonzalez, the FBI spokesman in Anchorage, confirmed a federal search warrant was executed Tuesday at Keyes' home and that Anchorage police helped conduct the search. The dead-end street where the home is located was blocked off, but agents and police were seen walking around the property with cameras, metal detectors and ladders.

Kevin Feldis, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska, declined to comment because the warrant remained under seal.

Federal and local authorities also conducted a two-day search of a cabin and 10-acre property that Keyes owns near the Canadian border in Constable, N.Y., according to Burlington, Vt., television station WCAX.

Agents and state police were seen digging around the cabin and on other parts of the property, the station reported. Neither the FBI in Albany nor the New York State Police immediately returned calls to The Associated Press on Friday.

A neighbor, Chana O'Leary, said New York State Police investigators asked her about Keyes on Tuesday, a day before agents showed up.

"Asking me if I knew him, also why I was here, and who lived in this property during the year I was gone," she told WCAX.

The purpose of the searches wasn't immediately clear. In court filings earlier this month, Keyes' lawyers complained that prosecutors have repeatedly interviewed him against their objections.

The court-appointed defense attorneys said they understand Keyes is being investigated in other matters, but they haven't been informed of the investigations or the allegations against Keyes and can't properly advise him.

His attorneys, federal public defender Richard Curtner in Anchorage and Jackie Walsh in Seattle, didn't immediately return calls.

Keyes is scheduled to go on trial March 11 for Koenig's death. Koenig was last seen on surveillance video at about 8 p.m. Feb. 1, being led away by a man with a weapon from the midtown Anchorage coffee shack where she worked.

Police classified it as an abduction based on Koenig's demeanor and the man's actions from the tape. The FBI contends Keyes killed the woman less than a day later. Her body was recovered April 2 from an ice-covered lake north of the city.

Keyes, who operated a one-man construction business, was arrested March 11 in Texas. Prosecutors say he had made withdrawals of ransom money using a debit card he stole from Koenig.

After killing Koenig, Keyes used her phone to send text messages to conceal the abduction, according to prosecutors. He flew to Texas and returned Feb. 17 to Anchorage, where he sent another text message demanding ransom and directing it to the account connected to the stolen debit card, according to prosecutors.

Keyes made withdrawals from ATMs in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest in Texas, prosecutors said.

Koenig's family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teen and the suspect.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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