When choosing a book to read, Jan and I share curiosity into the psyche of people, especially those who seem to defy what it means to be human, to be empathetic, to be a functioning member of society. For those who go against everything we think is normal human behavior, the psychopath, we look to find the motivations. Like the author, Maureen Callahan, we want to know they why, the how could this have happened, and most importantly can we ever know people we think we do? We chose American Predator as a book to share.
“Open your trembling flower, or your petals I’ll crush,”
Billed as the most terrifying serial killer you’ve never heard of, I first heard of Israel Keyes on the podcast Crime Junkie. The why, where, and how he was caught, and the hours of interrogation by investigators make up the bulk of this fascinating book.
Despite multiple blunders by the police, Keyes was arrested for the kidnapping of a teenage girl as the result of a fortuitous traffic stop. Unfortunately, she had been murdered and they soon discovered they had a serial murderer on their hands whose victims numbered in the double digits.
I feel your body tense up, my hand now on your shoulder, your eyes…Forget the lady called luck she does not abide near me for her powers don’t extend to those who are dead.
Details emerged that made him an aberration among serial killers. Although he’d been killing for decades, he didn’t fit the MO of a typical serial murderer, nor did he have a ‘type”. He avoided detection through meticulous planning and traveling off the grid. Meanwhile, Keyes maintained a ‘normal’ family and work life, which is the most frightening fact of all. Truly the stuff of nightmares. His personal life and background were explored for clues to his psychological make-up.
Unfortunately, many of his secrets died with him and some case files are still closed to the public. But the hope is the hours of investigation and interviews will help police and profilers understand and apprehend more of these killers.
This is narrative non-fiction at its best and was another fantastic buddy read with my friend Marialyce, which inspired a great discussion. We both highly recommend this book as one of the better books in the genre.
I, for one, had never heard of Israel Keyes and yet reading this true crime book, I came away wondering why? He was able to commit crimes in a manner that was brazen and yet as he traveled seeking victims, no one seemed to connect him to any crimes. He was a long term planner, depositing things such as duct tape, guns, shovels, and rope buried in various parts of the country waiting to be dug up and used when he needed it. Keyes was a patient man and his thrill came not only in the death of his victims but also in the planning of their deaths. His victims seemed to be random, bad time bad place, and he would grab his victims in a cool calculated manner rape and kill the people at times dismembering them and walk away.
“Where will you go, you clever little worm, if you bleed your host dry?
His success if you want to call it that was achieved through traveling and it was his trek through state after state that perhaps was the key to his depravity. There was many connections that the FBI was able to make, but unfortunately, they could never prove for Keyes played a cat and mouse game with the authorities pursuing his self worth in that he considered himself smarter than all others.
You may have been free, you loved living your lie, fate had its own scheme crushed like a bug you still die.
He was ultimately caught when it was found that he killed, raped, and dismembered a girl working at a coffee stand in Alaska. He confessed readily but then lead the authorities on a chase to find other victims of this psychopath. Unfortunately, Keyes committed suicide before revealing the location and names of what is believed to be his countless other victims.
Absolutely, this was a bone chilling story that makes one really realize that you really don’t know who it is that stands next to you.
Land of the free, land of the lie, land of the scheme, Americanize.
Thank you to Maureen Callahan, Viking Books and Edelweiss for a copy of this most frightening book.