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  • Writer's pictureKelly Romo

Behind DEAD DRIFT: Maupin's Real Serial Killer.

Updated: May 8, 2022

Little did I know that Maupin had a serial killer who got his start on the Deschutes River...


Israel Keyes is considered one of the most prolific serial killers in the U.S. He lived in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. By studying other serial killers and learning from them, he stashed kill-kits all over the U.S, murdering people in at least ten different states. The F.B.I believes he killed at least eleven people between 2001 and 2012. He also traveled to Canada, Belize, and Mexico, where he could have committed more crimes.


In the summer of1997 or 1998, Israel Keyes lived in Maupin, Oregon. He stalked and abducted a young girl between fourteen and eighteen years old who was tubing down the Deschutes River near Maupin. After kidnapping and sexually assaulting her, he let her go and sent her back down the river on her tube. The assault was never reported to law enforcement and is believed to be the beginning of his violent attacks.


I frequently visit Maupin to fly fish, go whitewater rafting, or take a writing retreat. I initially came up with the idea for DEAD DRIFT while on a trip to Maupin. At the time, I was working on historical fiction, not thrillers. For some reason, the idea of a thriller with a serial killer centered around whitewater rafting and fly fishing came to me.

I didn't want to curse Maupin with a serial killer, so I created the fictional town of Lodell. One day after my first draft was already written, I went to the fly fishing shop in Maupin for some tying materials. Of course, I was talking about my book when the man working there told me that a real serial killer lived in Maupin. I was surprised I hadn't found that through my research, but I never did a specific search for that. Since the town is so small, what are the odds? Both Israel Keyes and the serial killer in my novel got their start on the Deschutes River.

Maybe instead of me cursing Maupin, Maupin cursed me...



  • An Amazon “Best Book of 2019”

  • A Washington Post “10 Books To Read in July”

  • A Los Angeles Times “Seven Highly Anticipated Books for Summer Reading”

  • A USA Today “20 of the Season’s Hottest New Books”

  • A New York Post “25 Best Beach Reads of 2019 You Need to Pre-Order Now”

  • A Bustle “The Best New True Crime Books You Can Read Right Now”

  • “Maureen Callahan’s deft reporting and stylish writing have created one of the all-time-great serial-killer books: sensitive, chilling, and completely impossible to put down.” —Ada Calhoun, author of St. Marks Is Dead

He was a hard-working small business owner, an Army veteran, an attentive lover, and a doting father. But he was also something more, something sinister. A master of deception, he was a rapist, arsonist, bank robber, and a new breed of serial killer, one who studied other killers to perfect his craft. In multiple states, he methodically buried kill-kits containing his tools of murder years before returning and putting them to use. Viewing the entire country as his hunting grounds, he often flew to distant locations where he rented cars and randomly selected his victims. Such were the methods and madness of serial killer Israel Keyes. Such were the demands of the Devil in the Darkness.

This book is the first detailed account ever published about Israel Keyes. It contains exclusive personal information about this frightening serial killer gleaned from extensive interviews with his former fiancee.


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