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. Buffalo Bill

    It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the house again.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      It should be your, Allahs, and all the other "Comedians" daughters. Then we'd see how funny it is.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • SophieCat

      "The house again". You're a nitwit. A nitwit that can't spell, by the way.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Larry

    Possibly staged?

    February 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • scranton

      Could be. I bet it was someone she knew and knew the layout of the cameras and her working schedule.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Kind of strange but her boyfriend in a radio interview. said "I was delayed at work and when I went to pick them up
      I mean her up she was not there." A slip like that in this instance seems a little out of the ordinary for a case like
      this. I think he should at least been asked who them was. Just a thought. The way he choked on them and then
      corrected himself was strange.

      February 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimmypop

      coat, purse and cell phone taken?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • unell

      To what end would this abduction be staged? There couldn't have been a lot of money in the register so it wouldn't be for that.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh man another kidnapping...

      Yeah.... sounds about right, they put the reward up to 100,000 then she just miraculously shows up in a basement....

      February 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dhondi

    Yep, one cute white girl goes missing and it is national news....

    February 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup

      They are the only ones with value.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • lyncher

      and don't you forget it, you non white person

      February 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becca

      What does race have to do with anything? You are also a real Moron!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob2tall

      its Alaska-and organized crime families love to kidnap young attractive women to dope them up and move them to remote areas to serve as prostitutes to the mining and oil communities out in the middle of nowhere.They used to kidnap teen age girls from Seattle and Portland in the mid 1980s and transport them to Alaska

      February 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      if you notice every one that goes on and on and talks about "white people" and comments like that , turning topics racists are pretty much insecure , no one mentioned anything about her race yet you went talking about her race as if it was the main topic here which means one thing , you feel less than an average human being because of your race which is no one's fault but yours , seek a psychiatrist because you need help with everyone like you

      February 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • badbadbadbadbad

      lol because maybe white people are easier then colored... come on now a white girl walks down the street screaming and crying.. colored people scream, hit, curse, and probably carry something sharp on them so obviously the kidnappers would want to avoid that confrontation...

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

      A white girl in . . . Alaska. Abducted, at night and by force, from a coffee kiosk. Yeah, that's going to get more attention than most missing-persons cases because of the novelty. Sorry to disappoint you. Novelty is what gets the media excited. It helps that she's pretty. And honestly, I hate it when chuckleheads instantly bring up this topic, as if it doesn't matter at all that she's a human being who is most likely dead. Her last minutes alive were probably horrific. She has a family that is terrified and soon to be grieving. Yet in your narcissism all you can think of is the color of her skin. People like you are why I prefer cats to humans.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ElmerFudd

    Concealed carry permit, anyone...??

    February 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neil

      You don't need a CC permit up here in AK ; )

      February 10, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • denim

      My understanding is that you don't need any such permit in Alaska. Beyond that, they encourage you to carry due to the wildlife there.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Pretty much everybody's packin' up here, lots of shotguns displayed on racks inside trucks and handguns are encouraged even if you are just taking a hike or bicycle ride though our many trails, due to you might be running into mama bear w/cub. Most have shotguns in their homes to scare off a wayward bear, even in Anch., when they start to come down from the hills and are foraging for food. Even our Iditarod mushers carry guns with them when they are out on the trails training or racing. At the very least, one should always have Bear Spray (we don't call it pepper spray up here.... same as we don't call snowMACHINES snowmobiles up here either 😉

      February 11, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. KVB

    do you feel witty making such an insensitive comment?

    February 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DaveinSC

    Maybe the guy was given an Espresso machine for Christmas and couldn't understand the manual ?

    February 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • SophieCat

      Oh you know how they are about asking for help or directions. Ain't no way this was over a gift he couldn't operate.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scranton

    Ignorant and mentally deficient is no way to go through life.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGuest9

      This is true. It's also true about much of the populace of your area.

      February 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    Sick world we live in.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paula

    Why are they worried about tainting the jury instead of showing the video so the guy can be caught, and the girl found?

    February 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Per the PD, they don't want to abductor('s?) to know what they know. Just how much info they have on him they are keeping close to the vest.

      February 11, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Becca

    You have to be a very stupid animal for saying that and I hope some day you do not have a child or relative that is taken like this. You MORON!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Entcelat

      Allow to admire you.

      February 11, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. The POPE

    so you selected this name to inflame feelings against Muslims ? you failed !!!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    Even trolls have standards bro. Pick a better website to troll than CNN. Try the Tosh.0 blog where this comment would have been thumbs upped by a few hundred people.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kynyth

    Samantha–please hold on.....I feel so sad for her family and friends.Surely they are going thru hell waiting for news.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ak_hrj

    Some of you are disgusting scum of the earth. Keep your negative comments to yourselves.

    February 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. I just wanna tell ya somethin'

    Whoever did this should be shot through the head then hung and electrocuted.

    February 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • SophieCat

      That should do it. If our laws were more stringent and severe when it comes to this kind of crime, there would be fewer missing children and women out there. Little boys and some men are missing, too. It's terrible to do this. Her family must be going through hell. Her poor mother. I would go crazy if this were my child.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
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