He chose “Alto” because it was “a ways off the freeway,” he said, and picked out a bank near the center of town.
The house that appeared vacant in Annetta South drew his attention because it was “four or five miles out of Alto,” he said, far enough to draw law enforcement away from his target.
“I couldn’t tell if there was local police in ‘Alto’ or not. I never found the police station,” he told investigators. “I figured if I started the fire that would get them all the way from town, and I’d hit the bank after that.”
Keyes reveals that he was looking for someone to abduct as well, but was leery of the police presence.
“I was looking for an out-of-the-way ATM,” he said. “I was going to grab somebody from an ATM and take them to the house, but there are a lot of cops in Texas, so I guess I chickened out a little bit.”
He initially parked by the house, Keyes said, waiting for the bank to open, then discovered tools and gasoline in the garage.
After using a piece of steel from the garage to pry open the back door, he spent an hour or two “digging through stuff,” he said, unsuccessfully searching for guns, but eventually making off with “jewelry and a couple other things.”
“I found some pretty nice fur coats and had the coats by the door,” he said, “but when I lit the fire I forgot to grab them.”
Setting the fire
To ignite the blaze, Keyes said he opened up the attic access and all the windows, then made a trail of clothes and bedding from every room to different parts of the house.
“I poured gas on the clothes all the way out to the back door,” he said, “then lit it up from the back door. Then I went to the garage, opened up the attic access, took the gas that was left in there and torched that place, too.”
Keyes said he drove back into town and watched the fire with binoculars from a church on a hill, near one of the banks.