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. Pamik

    The guy gave her time to get her coat, purse, & cell phone? Could she have known him and maybe they took off together witht he cash he took? Hate to say that but at least she might still be alive if that were the case.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • hmm...

      That was the first thing I thought of too, he knew where cams were and took care to avoid them, took her and the money but also let her get her stuff, cops not showing tape which they do if they don't have a suspect usually. The first thing that popped into my head is she isn't dead, she took off with the BF.

      February 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |

      Obviously the guy made sure to grab all her stuff, criminals can be dumb but I'm assuming since he actually wore a mask he might not be that dumb.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      You guys are so dense...They said it was an apparent abduction on video. It's ALASKA. She probably already had her coat on...You're making it sound as though she was apart of it...If it seemed she was just leisurely leaving with someone then they wouldn't be calling this an "armed' abduction...

      February 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amelia Bedelia

      That's exactly what I thought. Even if he grabbed her stuff, how did he know it was her stuff? This just sounds weird.

      Marie, even though she's in Alaska, she was at work. Who works as a barista with their coat on?! You realize that people fake abductions. That's what people are eluding too. It just sounds weird and maybe there is more to this story.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      funny reading someone calling others dense when their own comments are denser

      February 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      LOL, Marie is even more dense. Doh.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenn

      There are all sorts of possibilities here... Who is to say she didn't have her jacket on while she was working (again, if we could see the tape, we'd know). Young adults typically have their phones on them at all times. If the guy grabbed the money from the register, why is it odd that he would take her purse? It makes sense. Facebook and tracking her phone or phone usage were most likely the first things done when she went missing 10 days ago.... 10 days ago. Not to mention the fact that there has been a facebook page created to help locate her. I am sure the authorities have kept eyes on both of those since then; especially if the FBI is involved. Then again, we've seen it before where the girl runs off with an ex-bf or bf; which is another alternative that has the potential to make sense with this case. But how many places are there to run away to in Alaska... considering the poor winter weather conditions there are far more places to toss a body than to take shelter. I do not think this guy actually knew about the cameras unless he has seen them or as was mentioned before, he knew her personally. But it is safe to assume that anyone with the least bit of common sense knows many businesses have security cameras. And hey, if that is the case and he is an ex-bf/bf, then why does that mean she went willingly? This guy can still be a bf and she NOT want to go with him. Or he can still be a male that she knows personally and still NOT want to go with him.

      Bottom line- we all hope she is alive. If she did run away, we hope that she comes out and at least lets her family know she is OK. And if she was abducted, we hope that she is able to survive and make it safely back to her family... and we hope we can catch the man responsible.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • molldollAK

      now she DID have a protective order against some dude...and i also thought the same thing tho- perhaps they ran away together with the money. now being from anchorage also, there are a lot of coffee shops and of course its going to be warm enough in their to NOT have to wear your coat.. i just hope she gets home alive well and safely!!!

      February 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mak

      @Amelia Bedelia – I guess you aren't familiar with Alaska and the way many of our coffee KIOSKS work, so I will enlighten you and all of the idiots commenting on how she had her personal items, because not only do I live here, I was born and raised here. This is not a coffee shop, this is a one to two person facility, tiny, and COLD. If you weren't already aware, Alaska is, well, freezing. That she had her things close by in a tiny, tiny little coffee hut, is really not that surprising a fact, and one people do not have to harp on. That she was wearing a coat whilst preparing to LEAVE, is not surprising either. I drive by this coffee place all the time.

      I was pretty excited to see what the dumb commentators and trolls would say when this case hit major news sources. Better watch the accuracy of your information, Alaska isn't some giant weirdo zone.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • annoyedalaskan907

      @ amelia, considering I DO live in ALASKA, people do where their coats while working, especially when its the dead of winter and baristas have to stand infront of an open window. ANNNND she was closing when she was taken so she was out side locking up. Maybe you should check your facts before you down play the seriousness of a missing girl. just sayin.

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

      I've heard this theory numerous times that this was some staged abduction by her and the perpetrator, and frankly it is stupid. How much money could possibly be in a coffee shack like that? A couple thousand, at most? It's not like you can run away to a tropical island and live forever off that kind of money.

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

      Being from Alaska, and knowing how the coffee stands work, it was very likely she was wearing her coat at the time of abduction in February. I can almost guarantee this wasn't a planned inside job. The owners generally will come by daily to collect their money. An average days income might be 300-500 a day. So figure their might have been 500.00 in the safe. Not exactly enough to warrant an inside job. I pray that she comes home safely. I have a couple barista friends in Anchorage and now I am paranoid about their safety.

      February 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BaristasHuh?

    Hmm they prob own iPhones.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ReggieRay

    No doubt police will investigate the ex boyfriend but Alaska is the last frontier, and it attracts allot of strange people, this is why it should be mandatory that all business with public contact keep at least one surveillance camera, advancements in technology have made them too inexpensive not to have one. Granted a camera won’t save a life at the time but we’d have something to work off of in stead of offering a reward when it was clearly not about money to this guy.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ReadMuch?


      February 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The business DOES have a camera....did you not actually take the time to READ the story before commenting?

      February 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      From what has been reported, this coffee kiosk did have more than one camera.

      February 11, 2012 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. boboTheClown

    cops and parents need to check her facebook or google+ log-in timestamp to figure out she is really missing, people are so addicted to social networking and can't stay away from it from more than couple of hours.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      That doesn't work. Murdoch already had somebody hack her accounts to look for news.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      not to mention so addicted that simply turning on the phone makes it connect to all them secret places!

      February 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mfx3

    This is starting to be a problem...they recently had a governor disappear too...

    February 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • DK


      February 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      If that were the case, you'd think all you lower 48 haters would be doing jumping jacks. You complain sooooo much about CNN's Palin coverage, that I'm surprised no one has blamed Sarah for this young woman's disapperance.....yet !

      February 11, 2012 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Deidre

    How about showing the video or picture of the guy who kidnapped her....would be quite helpful if he is ever seen.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • ugh

      Here's a tip: Failing to read the article before commenting is not a way to demonstrate your intelligence.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      ^^^^and excellent point made by, ugh. lol

      February 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tara1

    I always had a gun on me when I had my coffee shop here and continuously tell my local coffee shop ladies to lock the door behind them (many are reinforced doors) and NEVER GO WITH THEM! I pray she is found safe and the perp is locked up forever!

    February 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. michaeldw

    Tanning Salon?

    February 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ElKai0

    Why dont they just look into who she was trying to get the restraining order against? This is obviously that guy unless this girl is the most unlucky person on earth, to get stalked enough to need a restraining order and then robbed and kidnapped by a totally different person.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • annoyedalaskan907

      been there, done that, he lawyered up and has an alibi.

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

      I'm not sure he has an alibi. The police have not said that this guy is a suspect but they also have gone out of their way to say that they can't say for sure that he is not involved.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex

    The father had said previously that he was pretty sure he knew who the guy was that "kidnapped" her. Ex BF.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Police said he took steps to not be on camera: i.e., the abduction was planned. The abductor probably knew the victim.

      Police are not releasing the video, they're saving it for "prosecution": i.e., they know who did it.

      Everything does point to an ex.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    google "alaska carry conceal laws" and click on the 2nd link:

    "Alaska's laws do not prohibit anyone 21 or older who may legally possess a firearm from carrying it concealed. A special permit is not required."

    If you're worried: Get your permit, get your gun, stop worrying.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • DK

      Just make sure you know which is the business end of it.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      She's 18.
      I assume she could carry it on her hip like a gunslinger then?

      February 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lassikb

    missing white woman syndrome. This sucks. Too bad she didnt have a firearm or make use of one. I pray for the family

    February 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JohnW

    What I'm wondering is, where did they come up with the sum $41000 as a reward? 40 seems too low? Strange number.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Just a guess...that's how much the contributions added up to?

      I hope she is found alive and well.
      My prayers to her family.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • annoyedalaskan907

      father said he didnt have the funds for a reward, ppl are donating at the coffee stand she worked at, so its slowly coming up.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    Hmmm, so she had taken out a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend, and now she gets kidnapped by an unknown attacker. If I were in charge, I would bring in the ex-boyfriend for questioning.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Food

    She looks like P0RNstar. Yet her name will be changed in case her father don't know about kingpin business. Government and Media invented Missing white woman syndrome. Remember FBI and Government is asking more father more tax dollars to save her life.


    February 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Based on your grammar, you must be a chimp.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©


      February 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elena Kulmanovsky

      @Food, you are an idiot. Many replies here are shocking. A guys daughter is missing! What is wrong with you people?
      Russel, people don't live in Igloos in Alaska anymore. What kind of teachers educated you? Shame on you!

      February 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      Richard, you are demeaning chimps worldwide. Moronic troll is more like it.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheva

      @ Food – You are pathetic. Try having some concern for this girl and her family-it's a sign of one's humanity to do so-or are you so inhuman that you are more in the camp of the abductor? Maybe law enforcement ought to be taking a look at you.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Food change that ending D in your name to an L.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      @Food-it's as shame you're not the victim. This world could use a lot fewer oxygen wasters like you.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poolchick

      Your parents must be so proud to know they raised such an uncompassionate person. It's a real shame you weren't the one abducted because the world sure doesn't need more of your kind.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • annoyedalaskan907

      missing white woman symdrome?? omg. get over yourself. wait till its somone you know, see how you feel when somone says your loved one looks like a stripper. common sense and a heart will get you a lot farther in this life rather than your negative banter, just sayin.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Elena K – did you used to work at a child care center in Fairbanks ?

      February 11, 2012 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
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