(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - "A force of pure evil acting at random," is how Vermont's federal prosecutor, Tris Coffin, described Israel Keyes to reporters Monday.
Coffin named Keyes as the only suspect in the June, 2011 abduction and murders and Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt. Keyes took his life in an Alaska jail cell Sunday, though Coffin said officials are not releasing how Keyes ended his own life. Keyes is also suspected in several other unrelated slayings around the country, Coffin said.
Asked if it is frustrating that law enforcement couldn't have time to bring Keyes to justice through the legal system before his suicide, Coffin noted, "He isn't in justice in our system, that's true, but the biggest concern I have is all the families that are out there that may have loved ones who disappeared who aren't going to get closure."
This is the first time law enforcement officials have publicly linked Keyes to the Curriers' deaths. They said Monday they never wanted Keyes' name publicized until now, because the suspected serial killer claimed to have murdered other people, and too much attention could have hindered investigations.
Officials said Keyes traveled to Vermont 18 months ago planning to kidnap and murder someone at random. They said Keyes was looking for a house with an attached garage and no security, apparently to make it easier to get away with the crime.
Chittenden County, Vt. State's Attorney T.J. Donovan said Keyes told authorities in Alaska he broke into the Currier's home and executed a "blitz attack" on them while they slept.
Donovan said Keyes tied up the Curriers then took them to an abandoned farmhouse where he shot Bill Currier when he became hard to control. Lorraine Currier briefly escaped, Donovan said, and Keyes chased her down, tackled her, sexually assaulted her, then strangled her to death.
"Though confronted with death, Bill and Lorraine Currier showed extraordinary bravery and courage, and extreme dedication and love to each other," Donovan said. "They fought to the end."
Donovan said jailhouse confessions, which included never-published information on the specific layout of the Curriers' home and contents of their garage, have him convinced Keyes is the killer. FBI search teams also recovered a handgun stolen from the Curriers' house, dumped in a Parishville, N.Y. reservoir, exactly where Keyes said it would be found. Also recovered from the water was the gun Keyes used to kill Bill Currier, Donovan said.
Donovan said Keyes stashed the bodies in garbage bags in the vacant farmhouse, covered in debris. The Curriers' remains have never been found, despite an extensive landfill search in Coventry, Vt. earlier this year.
Essex Police Chief Brad LaRose read the following note from the victims' relatives: "Thank you to our friends, coworkers, and strangers, who have stood by us through this difficult time, praying for us, hugging us, listening to us and keeping our families close to hearts."
Though Coffin said the Currier case is closed, he noted Keyes is still being investigated in other states. Coffin said Keyes confessed to four murders in Washington State, and one in New York State. The confessions came while Keyes was jailed as a suspect in 18-year-old coffee shop worker Samantha Koenig's killing in Anchorage, Alaska.
The family's statement said they now are beginning a new chapter of healing. That sentiment is shared around the Currier's town.
"I hope the community can come to some kind of closure," said Essex, Vt. select board chair Linda Myers.