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.

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Filed under: Alaska • Crime
soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Joe Rioux

    Someone was unhappy with their macchiato.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Poolchick

    It's a sad world for sure and hate the fact they can't show the tape because it may taint the jury. This video might be able to help find her or someone may have an idea of who the abductor is. But because criminals get so many rights, the hope of someone giving a tip on the abductor is impossible without the video. No wonder most people arent' found alive or at all if they can't produce all evidence to the public in hopes of finding the missing.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bobbi

    It amazes me how many horrible comments are made on here about a young lady that people don't know. My cousin is actually friends with her and said that her taking off isn't like her. She was a person who loved spending time with her family and always kept let them know when she was going to be late or not. This is a tragedy that this has happened it is not something to make light of or to make mean comments about.

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

      Uh, she didn't "take off". She was kidnapped at gunpoint.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbi

      I know she didn't take off I live in Anchorage I know the story, that comment was made for all the people that keep saying she probably just took off.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbi

      And they said she was taken by an armed man, they have yet to say what he was armed with.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SoldierOfFortunes

    Well Alaska is alot like Las Vegas...what happens here stays here...and that is putting it lightly....

    February 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Levi ?

      February 11, 2012 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Russell

    My guess is that the order of picture #2 and #3 should be switched to acurately reflect this young ladies transition from sweet, (and I'll assume reasonably innocent) to "pot head" scarf wearing, to lip pierced and apparently on drugs. My money says her and the boyfriend are smokin' crack in an igloo somwhere.........

    February 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Great Scott

      Real classy, dude. I assume your daughter, if you have one or will have one, will dress like Little House on the Prairie. She looks like many typical 18 year old girls. Stop the hate.

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

      I'll just bet your daughter, or maybe your sister, woke up one day with a hankerin' to get double-teamed by a couple of meth head truckers in some greasy, 5h!t-hole diner out in the midwest somewhere.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Karma dude. Karma. Just remember that when something real ugly happens to you or a family member. You and ever vile person who hides in shame behind a keyboard who was bullied as a child who would never have the guts to ever spew your venom in person....disgusting.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • FM

      Real funny. You must be really poud of yourself. You made a cute joke about an 18yr old girl who was taken at gunpoint and may very well be no longer with the living. You're a real prize.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poolchick

      Ignorant comment coming from an uneducated wingnut. Igloos? Do you only have grade 5 or are you still in that grade?
      Another dumb move, is betting your money on your idiotic theory. You can hand over your cash now cause I'll take that bet then give the cash to the father for funds to keep searching for her. Go crawl back in your hole.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You are either a troll or a desperately sick individual.
      Either way, seek help.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Great Scott

    No young women should ever be holding down shop at any business without a man to protect her or a firearm she is trained and adept at operating. Too many psychos in this day and age! Here in Oregon we have drive-thru coffee shops with 18 year old girls in bikinis... near the ghetto where many ex-child molesters live. These business owners are not at fault, as it was just an unfortunate situation, but we should start thinking better about leaving young women alone in such a crazy world.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    The DAD did it!

    February 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Inter

      Some people really shouldn't have access to the internet, and not to mention posting comments on serious subjects.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • TruAmerikan

      Alex...I think your dad it YOU!!! That would explaing a lot of things about you.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Diana Benevidez

    I wonder if this kidnapping is related to the stabbing of my nephew. In December, 2011, my nephew was stabbed, robbed and left for dead close to this location.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I am sorry for your nephew...I hope he is okay.
      Just as I hope this young lady is...
      Is this location *that* isolated?

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

      This area isn't isolated at all but Anchorage is a very dangerous town these days. There are very few "safe" areas in the whole city.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 1 Cream

    Bad idea for young girls to be working alone at night in a place like this. I would imagine the perp belongs to the fitness club or did at one time or another. I hope she's found alive. She deserves a chance in life.

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

    Ask TAX DOLLAR Bailouts.... Three-Seven Months FBI agents and Government will make $600,000 lol!!!

    First, FBI found the girl on Google map and say "we got it". Second, they called CNN, Fox, etc to setup TENT CITIES. The media circus. FBI is going to pretend they can't find the girl. FBI is going drinking coffee and collect tax pension checks. They point MAPS no where. After Father's middle class goes broke in three-seven months. No more money and saving account. BINGO...FBI run.. Jam the door. We got it.


    it's going to be TV show and earn millions and plus tax... Middle Class is broke.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheva

      What are you smoking? Whatever it is, it has crossed some wires in your head and you are making absolutely no sense. Get rid of that junk and seek some help!

      February 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • KAegro

      So we should let the poor girl die without lifting a finger? What is wrong with you?

      February 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Wrong thread, dearie.

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

    I don't care if someone has a machine gun in my face- I'd rather die where I'm at then die in the woods somewhere. Never go anywhere with a robber.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wisco30

      Ummm good for you but maybe she didnt have a choice?

      February 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • RuRu

      I agree. You will NEVER get me in a car and drive off to torture and kill me in the woods. You best shoot me on the spot. This is what they teach you in a self-defense class. Never go with them – chances are they will leave if you put up a fight. A bullet right there is much better than the sick things they will most likely do to you once they get you somewhere alone. Chances of being let go afterwards are pretty slim.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Marc

    Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves... Absolutely discusting, worthless people. Get back to work. There's nothing to post about this article; it's quite sad for her, her family and friends – imagine if this was your daughter, your family member or friend. Wake up...

    I hope she's recovered safely... My heart goes out to everyone involved.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    A lot of crude remarks here but statistically and practically there is a very good chance that an ex boyfriend or someone like that is into this picture. It's too bad we always try to pin it on a so-called ex-offender too, since that's highly improbable. The guy responnsible was more likely a big wheel in the local Neighborhood Watch program or somesuch and a fan of NCSI stuff on TV, as well. "Yeah, let's all keep an eye on those other nasty guys so I can do my thing while your not watching"...that's more like the scenario, betcha.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David Crosby

    Do people that leave a car or business under threat of shooting or stabbing think that they are coming back safe..I taught My twin daughters who are now in their late 20's how to bleed out a male with their teeth or fingernails(cartoid, femoral, optic nerve, etc.)..better to try and kill or main right here right now since you are going to be killed anyway..they have never had a problem because they were taught to never be victims even if they die trying...they are little and cute and will fu** you up...still very terrible and sad about this girl..and I'll be teaching my grand daughters how to kill someone with a plastic straw or piece of loose change ...

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

      MacGyver, there you are!
      Seriously, though, good job.

      February 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jimbo

    I hope the best for her and her father. What a horrible thing to happen to such a cute girl, not that it wouldn't be horrible if she wasn't cute but just saying that she is a looker.

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


      February 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Where were you a week ago?

      February 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Someone investigate Jimbo.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
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