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 “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

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

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. Thunder Seven

    Lets do door to door searches and find this girl Anchorage and surrounding area is not that big. Send in the National Guard..

    February 15, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Carrie

      What do you mean the surrounding area is not that big? This is the largest state in the country and there are scarily plenty of places that the abductor could have left this girl where she may never be found. He could have easily left the road system with her on a snow machine or in a private plane. We also will very soon have hungry bears waking for spring that could destroy the evidence before it is ever found. I certainly hope she is found safe and I feel terribly for her family. Every public place in town has a flyer with her picture posted somewhere. I certainly have been paying more attention to my surroundings when alone since this happened.

      February 17, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniela

      Carrie -we certainly do not want to even go there with bears...please please please -the family is suffering tremendously -the last thing someone needs to see is your comment

      February 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wijk

    every time this happens, gun down, knife , disembowel a leftist, liberal monster and their murderous crimes against society will stop.

    February 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • andy

      Your right, magnificent, that will fix it, what a genius

      February 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • pplr1

      I think you put out the most insane comment of the night.

      Lets fix a crime committed against one innocent person by killing other innocent people. What brilliance.... sigh.

      February 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AllThatGlitters21

    You are clearly a horrible, hateful person. Why would you say something like that even as a (truly awful) "joke"? Judging from the way you typed your comment, you're not all that bright, but that is never an excuse for outright meanness.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SoldierOfFortune

    Things are not what they seem...start from Barrow and go down to Metlakatla...heat sensors can detect the persons in a remote area they are not suppose to be in...and that is where she is probably stashed away at...remote location...why doesn't the father hire soldiers back from war to track her? 41,000 goes a long way – can pay for 41 soldiers to do work!

    February 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pplr1


    Put it where the sun doesn't shine.


    The guy is right. Don't hope Icloner's friends and family die (they didn't make his remark), hope the Icloner himself suffers so that he can understand what it is like to be afraid.

    February 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Daniela

    Reported to CNN...I'm ashamed to see this comment. This poor girl is missing and you make a comment like this?

    February 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Havana

    Perhaps it was someone who thought it was really Casey Anthony they were about look alike..geez..

    March 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Laura

    Oh, wow. You are right. She does look like Casey Anthony.

    March 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
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    April 10, 2012 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    The guy was wearing a hoodie? Was it Trayvon?

    April 13, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
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