"It's the ultimate investigation in our profession," said Essex police Chief Brad LaRose.
Chief LaRose said the double murder of Bill and Lorraine Currier is a hideous crime that's weighed heavily on the department for 16 months. On Monday the case took a dramatic final turn after the prime suspect committed suicide and the need to keep the investigation a secret disappeared.
"The Curriers in no way did anything wrong or contributed in anyway to this tragic series of events occurring," said U.S. Attorney for Vermont Tris Coffin. "By all accounts they were friendly, peaceful good people who encountered a force of pure evil acting at random."
Federal and state prosecutors said months before 34-year-old Israel Keyes took his life, he confessed to abducting and killing Bill and Lorraine Currier in June of 2011. Authorities said Keyes is a serial killer and the Curriers had the misfortune of becoming his random targets. His hunt for victims began on June 2 when he boarded a plane from Alaska to Chicago with a gun and a silencer. He rented a car and drove to Vermont. He had been here once before in 2009.
"Keyes was specifically looking for a house that had an attached garage, had no cars in the driveway, did not have children and did not have a dog," said Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan.
The Currier's home fit. On June 8th police say he cut the phone line, broke into the garage and then used a crowbar the couple had hanging in the garage to smash a window into the home.
"Keyes then engaged in what he called a blitz attack," Donovan said. "Keyes estimated that it took him approximately 5 to 6 seconds to get to the broken entry door to the Currier bedroom."
He was wearing a headlamp to be able to see in the dark house -- encountering the couple for the first time asleep in bed. He tied them up and stole their gun. He then forced them into their own car and drove them to a vacant farmhouse in Essex he had previously scoped out. Keyes told authorities he took Bill into the basement and tied him to a stool, but that he kept yelling for his wife. "In an attempt to subdue Bill Currier, Keyes hit him with a shovel," Donovan said. "Israel Keyes then retrieved the gun and silencer and then shot Bill Currier to death."
Outside, Lorraine had escaped the car and authorities said she was running toward Route 15 when Keyes tackled her, brought her into the house and raped her. "Keyes then brought Lorraine who was still alive to the basement. During this time Lorraine did not appear to be fully aware of her surroundings," Donovan said.
Prosecutors say Keyes strangled her to death. He placed both bodies in separate garbage bags in the basement and covered them with debris. Police said he checked out of the Essex hotel where he was staying and intended to rob a bank. Authorities said the Currier's car started to overheat so Keyes dumped it outside the Pearl Street apartment complex and left the state. Police said he burned the remaining evidence in a New Hampshire forest before dumping his gun and the one he stole from the Currier's in a reservoir in Parishville, New York. In the months to follow, he tracked the police investigation through media reports before being captured in April by Texas authorities for a separate crime -- and the tragic story of the quiet Essex couple finally surfaced.
"It's clear from the facts of this case, though confronted with death Bill and Lorraine Currier showed extraordinary bravery and courage and extreme dedication and love to each other. they fought until the end," Donovan said.
Vermont investigators never traveled to the Alaska jail where Keyes was being held. But an Essex detective did have a one hour telephone conservation with him. Lt. George Murtie said Keyes expressed no remorse and told him he killed simply because he liked it.
The Currier's family was not at Monday's press conference but in a statement they thanked the police and the public for their support. Prosecutors said the family supported efforts by police to ID other victims. Keyes is linked to at least six other murders over the last decade.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 11:54 PM EDT2013-06-20 03:54:35 GMT
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