TODAY'S PAPER
67° Good Evening
67° Good Evening
NewsNation

Body in bunker may be of murder suspect

SEATTLE -- After a nearly 23-hour standoff, police blew up the top of an elaborate bunker in the Cascade Mountains yesterday and inside found the body of a man -- believed to be that of a survivalist wanted in the deaths of his wife and daughter last weekend.

The suspect appeared to have shot himself, King County sheriff's Sgt. Katie Larson said. Officials were awaiting positive identification.

The raid ended a tense week for law enforcement officials who tried to track down Peter Keller, 41, a gun enthusiast described by his family as having a "survivalist mentality." Keller was believed to be armed and on the loose in an extremely popular hiking and mountain-biking area east of Seattle, keeping many people on edge.

Keller had spent eight years building the bunker into the side of Rattlesnake Ridge, police said. It was thoroughly camouflaged and had multiple levels.

SWAT teams spent seven hours on the mountainside Friday, virtually crawling over steep terrain slick with mud from recent rains, before they found the bunker. Some officers were treated intravenously for dehydration, and one broke his ankle, said sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West.

After long shifts, the officers appeared exhausted, their faces smeared with camouflage paint, as they rode down the mountain to be replaced by fresher teams.

SWAT officers who kept watch on the bunker through Friday night said they saw lights going on and off, and they believed its occupant had everything necessary to remain inside for a long time -- including a generator, food, gas mask, bullet-resistant vest and many guns.

Photographs found in Keller's home after the killings gave authorities an idea of where it was. Combined with reports from alert hikers, the sheriff's office sent experienced trackers to the area, where they found off-trail boot prints confirming that he was somewhere on the ridge.

Authorities pumped tear gas into the structure Friday, but it failed to flush the occupant -- either because it didn't penetrate deep enough into the structure, or because the person had a gas mask.

Court documents described Keller as a loner who has a survivalist mentality and has been stockpiling supplies in the woods.

An arrest warrant issued Wednesday accuses him of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson; the home was set on fire after Keller's wife and daughter were shot.

The King County medical examiner has determined Kaylene Keller, 18, and her mother, Lynnettee Keller, 41, both died from gunshots to the head. Their bodies were found in their bedrooms.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News Photos and Videos