NEAH BAY — Israel Keyes was described as a model citizen while he lived in Neah Bay between 2001-2007, fathering a girl, working for the Makah tribe and being a productive part of this tribal community.
So learning that he was a self-confessed serial killer was a shock last year to residents of this sea-swept village of 865, tribal Judge Emma Dulik recalled.
“He never seemed to cause any problems,” she said.
FBI investigators in Anchorage, Alaska, believe Keyes killed 11 people between 2001 and 2012, and five of the murders happened while he was living in Neah Bay.
He claimed he dumped at least one body into Lake Crescent, but Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said park officials have no plans to search the lake without more exact information about the location of a body.
Maynes said the park had no missing-person reports that correlated with the period of time Keyes lived in Neah Bay.
He was issued “a few overnight backcountry permits” during that time, Maynes said.
The FBI said Keyes sought many of his victims while hiking and camping.
“We have been talking with the FBI and are making sure we are sharing information completely with them,” Maynes said.
To the best of their knowledge, none of Keyes’ victims lived in Clallam or Jefferson counties, Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez said Tuesday.
They said there no links between Keyes and missing-person reports or ongoing cold-case investigations in the two counties.
Both sheriffs had been contacted by the FBI.
Keyes’ former partner and daughter still live on the Makah reservation, tribal members said.
“He did work for the tribe, doing landscaping all over the village,” Dulik said.
“At the entryway, he cut the grass, put a sign up, and went through the village putting out plants and flowers and things.”
Keyes also was known as a good father, Dulik added.
Keyes often shopped at Washburn General Store in Neah Bay, owner Greg Lovik said.
“All my help liked the guy,” Lovik said.
“He seemed to be a level-headed, good worker. He could fix about anything, is what I am told.
“There was nothing that stood out that he was a troublemaker or anything.”
“When it hit the papers, [about Keyes confessing in Anchorage to being serial killer], everybody was going like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it,’” Lovik said.
“Most people I talked to couldn’t believe it because he was such a good worker and a personable guy.”
Janine Ledford, executive director of the Makah Cultural and Research Center, said many tribal members knew Keyes but now are reluctant to talk about him.
“Most of us aren’t interested in feeding the public curiosity about how we feel about a murderer being in our midst,” Ledford said.
Meredith Parker, general manager of the Makah tribe, issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:
“Out of the respect for the family of Mr. Israel Keyes, the Makah tribe will not be making any formal comment to the media related to Mr. Keyes’ time spent in Neah Bay.
“In addition, it is standard policy that the Makah tribe does not comment on any individuals employed or formerly employed by the tribal organization or its enterprises.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at [email protected]