Young barista's abduction sparks fear in Anchorage
February 10th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Young barista's abduction sparks fear in Anchorage

[Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET] Eighteen-year-old barista Samantha Koenig has been missing for more than a week, kidnapped on a dark, snowy Alaska evening from the parking-lot coffee stand where she worked.

Her father, at times, has feared the worst.

"I am hitting every place I can possibly think of to get any tip or inclination," James Koenig was quoted as saying by the Anchorage Daily News. "I've got to start thinking, where would I dump the ... body if I were this guy?"

The community is in fear, too, for the employees who staff many of the other coffee kiosks that dot the Anchorage area.

Samantha Koenig was taken from the Common Grounds Espresso stand, in the parking lot of an Anchorage fitness club, around 8 p.m. on February 1, according to reports. Police have told local media that security footage shows an armed man wearing a dark hoodie entering the shop and taking Koenig away. Gone, too, was the cash from the stand's register, as well as Koenig's coat, purse and cell phone, reports say.

The abductor’s face was not visible, police have told the media, and they have not released the video, saying they want to preserve its usefulness to any possible prosecution.

“There is an evidentiary nature to those videos that were taken in by these security cameras and they can be used later on in court,” police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker is quoted as saying by KTVA.com. “But if we are to present them now it would have the effect of tainting the jury.”

The owners of the coffee stand, Tyler and Michelle Duncan, have seen the video. They reported the case to police after arriving at their business the morning after Koenig's abduction, according to the Daily News.

"This perpetrator took obvious and deliberate means to avoid being captured on video," Tyler Duncan told the Anchorage paper.

Police said Friday they're making progress in the case, without releasing any details.

"(Investigators) are doing additional interviews and following up on leads," Parker told CNN. "They've not released the name of any person of interest or suspect."

"We're just hoping and praying that we find Samantha, and she gets home safely," he said.

The FBI is also helping in the search, according to local news reports.

But police said Alaska’s winter weather is hampering the investigation, reports say. More than a foot of snow has fallen around the crime scene since the abduction, possibly concealing evidence, and heavy snow falling the night Koenig went missing may have prevented people in the area of the coffee stand from seeing anything, Parker said, according to a report from KTUU.com.

Koenig's family is offering a $41,000 reward for information leading to her return. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend a candlelight vigil for Koenig in downtown Anchorage on Saturday evening, James Koenig told CNN on Friday.

The vigil will come 10 days after her disappearance and a week after her father pleaded for help. He said he and volunteers - from close friends to strangers - have distributed about 45,000 fliers door-to-door and conducted searches.

He and volunteers are using a donated motor home, which they've parked near the coffee stand from which Samantha Koenig was taken, as a 24-hour base of operations, coordinating searches and flier distribution, working on plans for the vigil, and keeping an eye on the baristas who continue to work at the stand.

"I don't know if I have the word for (the support)," James Koenig told CNN on Friday. "I never expected people to drop their lives like this. They are the true heroes. Most of them I don't even know - they're treating (Samantha) as one of their own."

The crime has struck at one of the hallmarks of the Anchorage community, the tiny coffee stands around town, says Daily News columnist Julia O'Malley.

O'Malley wrote in her Thursday column:

Coffee shops are a thing here, a signature Anchorage phenomena. A study in 2005 said there was a coffee opportunity for every 3,300 residents in the city. At the time, that was the highest coffee-to-person ratio in the U.S. It’s a competitive business and it doesn’t hurt to have a cart staffed with attractive young women. While that makes caffeine and pretty faces easy to find, it also means a lot of women like 18-year-old Koenig will be closing up shacks in dark parking lots of car washes and gas stations tonight. Plenty of them will tell you that’s a vulnerable feeling. Koenig’s disappearance dials up the unease.

The unease is real for Ashton Stoltzfus-Avis, who works - usually alone, she said in a KTUU report - at the Hot Spot coffee stand.

"As a fellow barista, it's always been in the back in my mind, but for it to actually happen, and happen so out of the blue, I mean it's scary. It is, for anybody. Even not as a barista, just as a young lady," Stolzfus-Avis is quoted as saying.

Baristas say they are worried and are taking precautions.

“I know a lot of girls are scared that work in coffee shops. My family got me pepper spray. I know a lot of girls’ families are doing that,” Sari Phillips, who works at a stand called the Kodiak Kup, told KTVA.com.

At another stand, Qwik Cup Espresso, there's a can of bear mace by each service window, according to the KTVA report.

Qwik Cup barista Christina Johnson told KTVA that no one expected this kind of crime in Anchorage.

“This shouldn't happen, especially in our small little town at the coffee shop around the corner, that's really scary,” she's quoted as saying.

James Koenig said he didn't sleep for five days after Samantha's abduction and now operates on one or two hours. He said Friday that he believes the case will be solved.

"She's coming home soon," he said. "I'm trying to get her home today. Hopefully there will be a celebration tomorrow, rather than a vigil."

See the Help Find Samantha Koenig Facebook page.

Post by: ,
Filed under: Alaska • Crime
soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Lower48

    Has it occurred to you folks that maybe the reason she had all her stuff with her (coat, phone, purse, etc) was because she was closing up, or had closed up, and was leaving the kiosk? There are a lot of posts about the alleged perp "allowing" her to get her stuff. Maybe she was already outside and ready to go. Or maybe the perp DID let her grab her stuff so it wouldn't look like she was forced to leave, making the cops think she disappeared on her own.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaintn

      Not trying to be mean, but read the article again. He was armed. She didn't go willingly. Her family and the police are correct to fear the worst. Sad.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      It's on video. No need to guess.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lower48

      I wasn't saying she went willingly, just commenting on all the posts about the perp " letting her" get her stuff.

      February 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dana

    Missing coat, cell phone, purse, Money, seems fishy to me, hoping for the best case scenario though.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crabby old man

      Or it means a smart criminal. If you kidnap someone while they are alone and closing up the store and they leave the coat and purse then the first people in the shop that morning are going to know something happened. If you take that stuff with you it gives you several more hours before anyone starts looking for her.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Intel

    Why is it that whenever pretty middle class white women go missing, it becomes national news? Do you really think that there are no missing minority women from Detroit, LA, or NYC?

    February 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh what now...

      What makes you think she is pretty much less middle class??? (If you ask me, that makeup, hideous fake tan and the whole pierce thing kinda spell "trailer").

      February 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • crusader12

      Though it seems controversial and out of decency to say that on comment page for this article, there is definitely merit to the argument. In Los Angeles alone, about 3 people go "missing" a week. Nobody seems to give a (poop) about that. Her family probably had the money to get CNN (and the cops) to do something about it. The economic inequality in this country transcends how much money you have in your account, it encompasses our right to justice, education...everything.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Nice, oh, what now.
      Charming.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Sisler

      Of course it may be a fake tan, duh, Alaska, middle of winter!
      Does not look trailer to me, but what the heck does that matter anyway?

      February 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • pete

      Why does every thing have to be about race in this country. Yes there are people that go missing every day. I have seen these stories about all races. Get a life and quit playing the race card about every thing.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emilio Esteves

      yes ,there are. but we dont care about them.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaintn

      Well, if you ask me, and you really don't need to because I'm going to write it anyway, but Oh What Now's remarks scream "trailer." Saying such nasty things about this very young woman who may have met a horrible fate makes me want to slap you hard upside the head. Good thing you can hide on a comment board. You are a vile and loathesome creature. Or in terms you can understand, a creep.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Do you really think every missing white woman makes nation news? Or that no non-white women make the nation news? What about men? Why don't missing men get as much coverage as missing women?

      There are so many ways to spin this old, tired argument. Either man up and do something about the racial inequalities you see in this country or quit complaining.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      workoutking:
      Obvious troll is obvious.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      So, why DID you click on the story? Human interest. It's news.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crabby old man

      they don't have to be middle class they just need to be attractive, white or hispanic females, between 14 and 30, who are either married with kids or single and no kids. The reason is there are more whites in the US than any other race and honestly we don't care about; men(regardless of race we just don't care), fat woman, ugly woman, woman who have kids and aren't married, or black woman. This isn't about CNN being racist this is about knowing their readers. Most of the CNN readers would not click on a story about a missing white man or black woman, and they certainly wouldn't click on a story about a fat ugly white woman.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      "they certainly wouldn't click on a story about a fat ugly white woman." Put up a headline saying FAT UGLY WHITE WOMAN VANISHES and see who clicks on it. Or it could say WORKOUTKING'S MOM VANISHES, either way.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BetternthanU

      and yet another way to make it about race.. nice to see the racist folks are out "whites this blah whites that" why don't YOU get lost bet it woudlnt' show up on CNN but not due to your race it woudl be due to noone cares you're gone

      February 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbi

      Did you ever think that this is making national news because it is happening in a place like Alaska were it doesn't happen a lot instead of places like LA?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J.R.

    Only the cops would worry more about "tainting a potential jury pool" than possibly creating a tip or lead by releasing the tape.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      There must be allot more in the video that leads the police not wanting to release it as we all know police release videos of suspects every hour asking for the public s help. There's allot more going on, lets give the police credit and time to investigate shall we ?

      February 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TheArbiter

    In Anchorage it is as possible that she just ran off with a guy and took the register with them so they could buy drugs.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      That could happen anywhere, and what a sweetheart you are for thinking the best instead of the worst.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • unell

      Would they really stage an elaborate armed abduction if that were the case? Use your head.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Actually

      Given the time that has transpired finding her coked up with a BF in an alley is better than the likely outcome of her being found dead. While still not pretty, it does beat the worst.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Wow, and I thought I was a hugh jass. You are a much hugher jass than me.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WASTE OF TAX DOLLARS

    Missing "FAT WHITE GIRL" who have stomach belly, zits, glasses, and braces will NOT be on CNN frontpage.

    If she was FAT. CNN won't put this on webpage.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Sayin'

      If she had been fat would she have been abducted or just robbed?

      No one abducts fat chicks.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      I live here and very few things that happen here very seldom ends up on national TV.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emilio Esteves

      @Jus Sayin – Jame Gumb does.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      @Emilio:
      May you become Hannibal's next victim...

      February 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Leigh

    So many of the comments here are inappropriate. A young woman is missing and probably dead. Why don't all of you armchair detectives, haters, perverts and racists take some time off?

    February 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristy

      Thank you. Bunch of freaks we live amongst.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Minorkle

      I concur

      February 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaintn

      Take time off from what? Do you think people like that could actually find jobs? They're leaching off their parents or some relative. Wearing streaked tightie whities, sitting in Mommy's basement, trolling the internet thinking they're funny. Pathetic if you really think about it.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Report them and they will vanish. I'm a Hugh Jass©, and I approve this message.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Casey Anthony look-alike

    Has anyone else noticed she looks a lot like Casey Anthony?? I wonder if that played any part in why she was targeted.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      he doesn't look anything like CA.
      She was targeted because she was alone.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Oops, meant SHE.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WildWest

    I would hunt this POS down until my dying day.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. workoutking

    I feel it's hysterical that if this were a black woman, hardly anyone would care.I know I sure wouldn't. In fact, I would probably switch the channel to Golden girls and think " ah, one less freeloader in the world."

    February 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Five reports and his post is gone. Why are you talking to this limp weenie anyway? Just delete him.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • KJ

      Hugh Jass, creatures like workoutking are horribly insecure, that's why they lash out and try to hurt people with their comments. They can dish it out but they can't take it. Sometimes it's fun to rattle the cage of these creatures because calling them out will mess with their heads. They're weak and easy to take down and deserve to feel bad, if even for a little while.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. IndyNC

    I had to be cynical, but my first thought is – you know if this wasn't a cute young white girl... it would not have made the news.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      I hate to be cynical, but I bet your first thought was "Wow, I wish I had the nerve to abduct a girl, or even ask her out."

      February 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • SG

      It's news because it happened in Alaska. Women don't go missing quite as often as you think, and they usually don't get abducted from coffee kiosks. Please do some research (or activate a brain cell) before you play the race card.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fliebynight

    This made national news because it happened in a town where this stuff doesn't normally happen. If she were black, hispanic, asian, fat, ugly, you name it, it STILL would have made national news but you morons wouldn't be commenting near as much because you would've skipped past the story. This doesn't make news in LA because it happens 3 times a day there. Newsworthy = different. Not newsworthy = happens a lot so people get bored.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You're right...location, location, location.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whhhhheat Thins

      'zacktly, FBN. Well spoken (worded).

      February 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chell

      Very true. The last abduction to happen here was in 2007.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Hugh Jass

    Very likely that one of these curs posting here is the killer. FBI would be crazy not to trace some of these evil commenters by IP.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David Doney

    Women should not work alone. This should be outlawed; at least one male should be present or a secured cage should be present.

    Further, women should be taught from an early age not to go with anyone voluntarily. You won't be in a safer place if you get into a car with an armed person; your situation can only deterioriate. You should stand your ground and fight where you are. Don't ever get into a vehicle even at gunpoint.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      "Women should not work alone. This should be outlawed; at least one male should be present or a secured cage should be present."

      Please go kill yourself

      February 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      A lot of women would have just shot the guy, or broken his arm and made him eat that gun. The nineteen-fifties are over now, grampaw. Women teach unarmed combat and knife fighting.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • trix

      Yeah you're so right. Women shouldn't be allowed to work alone, or drive a car, or go to the mall– heck, why do we even let women leave the house at all?? They should be locked up forever for their own safety! We must protect the wimmins!

      February 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fiona

    Not the best reporting, CNN. Are these "kiosks," "stands, or "shops"? I'm trying to understand how this girl was abducted. Was this a shop someone could enter, or a locked kiosk where coffee is purchased from a window? If the young woman was taken when locking up and leaving, that's little different from the risk any shop, restaurant or bar worker faces at the end of a work day. If the worker cannot arrange for a friend or family member to come and pick her up, the employer should provide security. I've worked retail and have closed up stores. You take precautions.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • InNeedOfSummerWeather

      @EnoughEnough

      Shows how little you know. Not like they have jurisdiction in downtown Anchorage which is fairly far removed from the base and it IS a fairly decent sized city. Easy to assume things though is it not? Besides I lived in a military town for a huge portion of my life and yes, it was FAR more peaceful than the next towns over even. So there's your answer.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • blake

      Agreed its poor reporting. But the poor reporting is going around everywhere. I got pieces of info from so many articles, but nothing comes together or fits right. The boyfriend actually came to pick her up that night, and she wasn't there. Don't know why it didn't get reported right away, or even track the cell phone she had with her in the first few hours. And she was taken Wed, but not declared abducted until Friday Afternoon. Not releasing the footage that could help to give any distinguishing characteristics to the public in fears it would taint the jury. What's the priority? Finding a missing girl before she is killed, or prosecuting them once they do? This is btw a Kiosk that is locked and served through a window at a parking lot. In fact its one of the most secure ones in the city. They have multiple cameras and they even have a Panic button! But it wasn't pushed, and the perpetrator somehow was able to avoid all the cameras they have. There are a lot of things wrong with this story, and maybe that's why there is such poor reporting. No one wants to come out and say this seems fishy.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALASKAN LOOKING FOR SAMANTHA

      This coffee shop does provide security...an alarm system with a panic alarm and camera system. She was closing up for the night so perhaps wasn't able to get to a panic button. The stand security system was left unarmed but locked up. Her boyfriend, per reports, was held over at work late so arrived late to get her. Her cell phone started going to voice mail after her father made attempts to track her down.

      We can't assume this was planned on her part or anyone else's. No ransom has been requested that the public is aware of. What we can do is send positive thoughts to her and her family and hope that she is found alive and ok.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Alaskan looking for Samantha – Well said my friend ! Many are praying for her safe return and it is good to see so many Alaskans commenting on this article today ! Often, when CNN runs an Alaskan story, there are few local commenters...unless they are Palin bashing...good to see so many positive thoughts and prayers expressed for Samantha's safe return !

      February 11, 2012 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13