The Truth About Serial Killer Israel Keyes' Childhood

From the mid 1990s to 2012, Israel Keyes went on a crime spree that reportedly included arson, robbery, sexual assault, and murder. As reported by Dallas News, authorities had a difficult time identifying Keyes, as his crimes did not seem to fit any identifiable pattern. His murder victims included both men and women, the victims were of different races, and they were killed in a variety of ways and locations. Although he was eventually arrested and charged with several counts of murder, Keyes committed suicide before he could stand trial. As reported by Biography, authorities are unsure how many people Keyes actually killed. However, during a police interview, he claimed he had "less than a dozen" victims.

As is often the case with serial killers, Keyes' childhood might hold clues about the man — whether he displayed any behaviors that may have predicted his future crimes. Biography reports Keyes was the second of 10 children born into a conservative Mormon home. Although he was born in Cove, Utah, Israel's family relocated to Colville, Washington, when he was very young.

Keyes' parents, Heidi and John Jeffrey Keyes, had strong personal beliefs and a general mistrust of the government and modern medicine. Therefore all 10 children were born at home, without any medical assistance. The children were also home-schooled, and the family chose to live "off-grid," without any modern conveniences, including electricity or running water. As reported by Biography, the family was also socially isolated.

Israel Keyes' childhood and beyond

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Heidi and John Jeffrey Keyes left the Mormon faith and joined a fundamentalist Christian sect which, as reported by Biography, practiced white supremacy. During his police interrogation, Israel Keyes admitted he developed a keen interest in guns and hunting at a young age. To facilitate his growing obsession, he often stole guns from his neighbors. In addition to hunting animals, Keyes also began torturing them.

At the age of 20, Israel Keyes joined the United States Army. With the exception of being cited for driving under the influence, he did not receive any reprimands and was honorably discharged after serving four years.

It is unclear when Keyes began committing murder or how many people he actually killed. However, he did reveal a few important details during his interview with police. Biography reports Keyes did not focus on specific victims. Instead, he traveled to locations where he knew he could find people alone and catch them off-guard. Some of his favorite "hunting grounds" included campgrounds, cemeteries, and secluded parks. Keyes also admitted burying supplies near the locations where he planned to find his victims. The macabre caches included firearms, ammunition, and chemicals capable of dissolving flesh and bone.

Authorities highlighted the meticulous nature of Keyes' planning and methods of avoiding attention and arrest. Nevertheless, he was caught in March 2012 after he made the mistake of using the ATM card of one of his victims.