The Father’s Daughter Worked on a Night Shift, Then the Father Received a Creepy Photo of Her Lifeless Eyes

The tragic case of Samantha Koenig

Image from valuavitaly — Freepik

With a couple of friends, James raced to the spot where he was directed to go.

James stared as one of the friends quickly picked up a plastic bag.

The bag had a photo inside. So they opened the bag. They found a black-and-white photo of Samantha. She had a blank expression on her face. That bag contained a picture of Samantha with her eyes looking lifeless.

While still in shock, James called the police.

“We just got up and just ran. Everybody took off to the park. One of the girls then noticed something on the bulletin board. I walk up to it, and right underneath is a plastic bag with a clipping and a photograph in it.” — Samantha’s family friend stated.

Samantha Was an Eighteen-Year-Old Teenager

Samantha Tessla Koenig was an eighteen-year-old barista from Anchorage, Alaska, USA. She was the daughter of Darlene Christiansen and James Koenig.

Samantha had a big heart. And she was funny, sarcastic, and friendly. Most girls who knew her wanted to be her best friend.

Samantha was also in a relationship with Duane Tortolani II. Duane would often pick up Samantha from her Common Grounds coffee stand job. She sometimes took up night shifts.

But at the beginning of February 2012, Samantha got into an ugly fight with Duane.

Duane Tried to Reach His Girlfriend

Duane tried to call Samantha multiple times before he picked her up. Despite their fight, Duane wanted to pick her up later after her shift. But Samantha didn’t pick up.

So Duane suspected that maybe she was still angry from their earlier fight.

Duane decided to drop by Samantha’s workplace anyway. But the coffee shop seemed closed when he got there. And the lights were switched off. So Duane walked to the shop.

He peeped inside through the window. And there was no one. So Duane decided to drop by Samantha’s house to check on her. Duane explained to Samantha’s father, James, that he was supposed to pick up Samantha after her shift. But he didn’t see her.

So he wanted to make sure that she arrived home safely.

But James told Duane that Samantha wasn’t home yet.

The two got worried. They tried to call and text Samantha. But she didn’t respond. Then Duane received this weird message from Samantha.

“I’m going on vacation. I’m tired.”

James Found the Message Suspicious

James Koenig and his daughter Samantha Tessla Koenig — image from semrastrospodcast

James was confused. It was uncharacteristic of Samantha to send such a message.

And it didn’t make sense that Samantha was ignoring his phone calls and texts when she knew he could be worried about her. So James filed a missing person report for his daughter.

The police called the owner of the Common Grounds coffee shop to ask about Samantha.

The owner had strange news for the police. That morning, the barista at the shop informed the owner there was a robbery at the shop. No one could get in touch with Samantha. And there was no sign of a struggle outside or inside the shop.

That made the authorities believe Samantha was the one who robbed the shop.

Plus, she hadn’t pressed the panic button inside the coffee shop. But they couldn’t figure out how she got away. She didn’t have a car that night. And it was highly unlikely that she walked.

So the police looked at the coffee shop’s security footage for solutions.

The Footage Showed That Samantha Was Abducted

The footage revealed that a man in a mask forced Samantha out of the shop.

Samantha was working inside the coffee shop alone. Then someone came up to the window and ordered a drink.

Samantha made the drink. Then when she turned to serve the customer, she immediately stepped back with her hands in the air. Samantha reached over and turned off the lights inside the shop.

She got down on her knees with her back to the window. Then she slowly stood up and walked toward the cash register. She scooped money out of it. Then she walked back to the window and handed the money over.

Then he leaped through the window and held his gun to her back. Then he marched her outside.

The police couldn’t identify the attacker. The footage had too much noise.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s father reached out to the media and volunteers to help him look for his daughter.

And a reward was placed for anyone who came up with useful information. But no one came forward with useful information.

Samantha’s Boyfriend Got a Message From Samantha

Duane received a text message from Samantha’s phone three weeks later.

The message directed him to a particular location at a public park. So Duane, James, and a few friends rushed to the location.

One of the friends noticed a plastic bag at the location when they got there. They picked it up. The bag had a photo inside. The photo belonged to Samantha. Samantha’s eyes looked weird. But there was still hope that she could be alive.

There was also a newspaper next to Samantha in the photo with the date February 13th, 2012. And there was also a ransom note that ordered James to deposit thirty thousand dollars into Samantha’s account.

James was told to pay a portion of the ransom money by the police. And he did.

So the authorities waited for someone who would try to withdraw the money. Three separate withdrawals were made within Anchorage a few days later.

The police rushed to the locations each time they got a notification of the withdrawal.

But the person was always long gone before the police arrived.

The security footage from the ATMs showed a masked man with sunglasses. So the police couldn’t identify him.

The Person Made More Withdrawals in Different Places

The anonymous person made more withdrawals in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. But the police were always late to catch him.

The police got their break after identifying the person’s car on a security camera footage from Texas. They told the Texas police to be on the lookout for the car.

The car was soon spotted in a hotel parking lot. And the owner was pulled over.

His name was Israel Keyes. And he was thirty-four years old.

The police then searched Israel’s car.

They found a mask in his trunk.

They also found clothes that matched the description of the guy who was making the withdrawals.

Then they found a gun.

Samantha’s cell phone and debit card were also in Israel’s car. So Israel was immediately arrested.

Israel Told the Police What Happened To Samantha

Israel Keyes and Common Grounds, the place where Samantha worked — image from Wikimedia

Israel informed the authorities about what he had done to Samantha.

So, Israel randomly desired to rob the Coffee Grounds coffee shop. And he did. But in the process, he kidnapped Samantha.

Samantha tried to run for her life after they got out of the shop. But Israel caught up with her. He warned her that he would kill her if she tried to escape.

And Samantha cooperated.

Israel took Samantha’s phone. He sent the weird message to her boyfriend, Duane. Then he took Samantha to his house. He blindfolded her. And he put her in a shed. Meanwhile, Israel told Samantha he was going to exchange her for ransom money.

Israel put a rope around Samantha’s neck. He pinned her to the wall. And he turned his radio up to make sure it masked any noise.

Then he gave Samantha a couple of cigarettes to smoke and gave Samantha a glass of water.

Meanwhile, Israel drank some wine.

He unscrewed two anchors that were holding Samantha’s rope. Then he cut the zip ties on her wrist, allowing her to relax.

Samantha Felt Comfortable for A Moment

Samantha was relieved, thinking her nightmare was about to be over. But Israel grabbed her aggressively seconds later.

Samantha peed on herself. She knew what was coming next. Israel tied her up all over again. Then he sexually assaulted Samantha. Samantha asked him if he was going to kill her afterward.

And he said yes.

Israel drove a knife into Samantha’s back. Then he choked her to death.

Israel then left the shed and locked it. He took a shower inside his house. Then he went back to the shed.

He rolled up Samantha’s body in a tarp. Then he left. Israel went back inside his house. He made breakfast for his ten-year-old daughter.

Israel Went on a Vacation With His Daughter

Israel and his daughter then left for New Orleans on a two-week-long luxury vacation.

Israel went inside of his shed when they got back. He unrolled Samantha from the tarp. Then he dressed her in some new clothes. He put lots of makeup on her face. He braided her hair. And then he stitched her eyelids open.

Israel held up a copy of the Anchorage newspaper next to Samantha. He took several photos. Then he left one of the photos with a ransom note in a park.

The photos made Samantha’s father think she was still alive.

But Israel had disposed of Samantha’s body in a nearby frozen lake.

The Aftermath

Samantha’s remains were later found by the police at the lake. Israel told the police that Samantha wasn’t his first victim.

But he took his own life in a prison cell before he named any other victims.

It’s estimated that he killed at least eleven people.

Samantha’s father later stated that he was disappointed to find out that Israel took his own life before he could be brought to justice.