Officials won't say how confessed killer got razor used in suicide

Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska prison officials refuse to say how confessed serial killer Israel Keyes obtained a razor before his jail-cell suicide.

The state Department of Corrections denied a public records request from The Associated Press that seeks to determine why Keyes was able have a razor in his Anchorage cell. Keyes slit his wrist in December with the blade of a disposal razor that was imbedded in a pencil. He also strangled himself with a bedsheet.

At the time of his death, Keyes was awaiting trial in the 2012 slaying of an 18-year-old Anchorage barista. Under state policy, he would not have been authorized to have a razor, according to a list of items allowed for pretrial detainees. Razors can be possessed by convicted prisoners who have been cleared to have them.

In its denial, the state cites prisoner confidentiality. It also says information on the department's internal investigation of Keyes' death is denied "on the ground that the only investigation performed was conducted at the direction of Assistant Attorney General John K. Bodick in anticipation of litigation and is thus protected from release by the attorney-client privilege."

Bodick said Monday he doesn't know of any lawsuits planned over Keyes' death, but his office wanted to be better prepared should litigation arise in this case or others involving inmate deaths. He said Keyes was the kick-off point of a new approach to inmate deaths that had been discussed before his death. Earlier deaths have been handled with a variety of reports by different officials.

Keyes' family or others have a two-year window to sue, Bodick said. But even if no one does, a lot about Keyes' death may never be disclosed.

"There's still a right to privacy involved regarding these kinds of sensitive topics," Bodick said. "So I think, despite the fact there may be no lawsuit forthcoming, there's still a right to privacy with the survivors, which would remain."

John McKay, an Anchorage media law attorney, questioned placing a "blanket rule" of information restrictions on all inmate deaths. The death of an elderly inmate no one remembers, for example, can't be compared with Keyes' suicide, which essentially thwarted the investigation of a serial killer's crime spree.

Keyes was found dead Dec. 2. Also found were two bloodied sheets of paper with illegible writings that have been analyzed by the FBI, which has not disclosed its findings, only that they did not include a list of Keyes' other victims.

Keyes, 34, was set for a March trial in federal court in the abduction and killing of Samantha Koenig of Anchorage. Before he died, Keyes confessed to the killings of at least seven others across the country, including at least one case in Texas.

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