Wednesday morning Patrick Guagliano was biking down Poplar Rd. in Constable, New York when he noticed something strange. "In a distance, it looked like a bunch of hunters in orange outfits walking around," he said.
Turns out it was dozens of state police and FBI investigators. They were digging around a cabin and ten acre plot belonging to 34-year-old Israel Keyes. The Alaska man is behind bars in Anchorage, awaiting trial on charges he killed a teenager there. Keyes is also the prime suspect in the abduction and murders of Bill and Lorraine Currier, who disappeared from their Essex home more than a year ago.
"If he did have a couple of bodies to hide, there's a lot of places it could be up here," said Chana O'Leary, a Constable neighbor.
O'Leary lives next door and said the day before the big dig, two violent crimes investigators from the New York State Police showed up at her door asking questions about Keyes. "Asking me if I knew him? Also why I was here? And who lived in this property during the year I was gone," she said.
But O'Leary's own questions went unanswered. Police would only say the search was part of a confidential investigation. She says the timing is suspicious. "The leaves have fallen. They can't see the contours of the ground very readily with all the leaves on it. It's been open to the public without any kind of barrier to public ingress during all this time why now? So that was kind of curious to us," O'Leary said.
Another neighbor told WCAX-TV that about two months ago he called police after stumbling upon what appeared to be a shallow grave on the property. Tuesday he led an FBI agent to the same spot.
Thousands of miles from Constable, a simultaneous search was underway in Alaska. Federal authorities executed a new search warrant on Keyes' primary residence. They would not say what they were looking for. These dual searches come three weeks after prosecutors in Alaska told Keyes' defense team he's being investigated in other cases.
By Wednesday evening, the New York search was over. The only sign the feds were ever there is the disturbed earth around the property -- just deepening the mystery for neighbors.
"To know that somebody of that caliber and that inhumane would have owned property here, it's just so bizarre because it's just so peaceful here," said Connie LaBelle, a local resident.
It's unclear whether any evidence was recovered from Keyes' cabin. WCAX-TV called New York State Police to ask. They referred us to the FBI. Federal authorities told us they don't comment about on-going investigations. The U.S. Attorney for Vermont also declined to comment.
Keyes purchased the property in 1997. People in the area never remember seeing him, but they do remember an Amish family. They say this family rented from Keyes about four years ago -- stayed two months -- and disappeared. No one knows where they went or who they are.
The bodies of Bill and Lorraine Currier have never been found.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 9:45 AM EDT2013-05-22 13:45:46 GMT
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