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Crime & Courts

Bunker of 'survivalist' accused in Seattle killings found

Authorities on Friday surrounded a deep woods bunker that they say belongs to a gun-toting survivalist suspected of killing his wife and daughter nearly a week ago.

Dozens of police officers surrounded the underground bunker in the Cascade foothills east of Seattle, after they pumped gas into the structure and saw movement inside.

Authorities said the bunker belongs to 41-year-old Peter A. Keller, who was described in court records as a loner who collected guns and had a survivalist mentality. They were waiting to see if the person in the bunker would surrender on his own.

King County Sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said evidence found in Keller's home helped them find the structure Friday morning.

Officers were able to pinpoint the location after enhancing a blurry photograph they found on a hard drive left in an open safe in his house. The photo included a view from the bunker in which buildings in nearby North Bend were visible, along with a set of power lines.

Detectives were able to triangulate the rough area of the bunker and when combined with tips from people who had seen his faded red pickup truck parked at the trailhead, were confident they had the right area.

They sent two experienced trackers to the trail head and they were able to find tracks that appeared to have been made by someone carrying a heavy backpack.

They went into the woods at 5 a.m. Friday and could smell wood smoke from the wood stove in the bunker, even before they could see it.

Court documents said Keller was stockpiling supplies in the woods. He had not been seen since a Sunday fire at his North Bend-area home, where his wife and daughter were found shot to death.

An arrest warrant issued Wednesday for Keller accused him of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.

The fire was stopped before the house burned down, and authorities said they found seven gasoline cans placed in different areas of the home.

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.

Kaylene's boyfriend told detectives that Peter Keller had shown him his gun collection and several large-caliber rifles and handguns, court documents said. The boyfriend, who was not identified, said Kaylene had told him her father took long hikes on the weekends and was stockpiling supplies at a fort in the woods.

Peter Keller withdrew $6,200 from a bank last week and told one of his co-workers at a computer refurbishing store in Preston that he might not return, according to court documents.

Officers with the SWAT team had spent Friday morning searching a popular hiking area known as Rattlesnake Ridge just outside North Bend. Deputies closed trails and roads leading into the area of dense trees and networks of hiking and biking trails. Sheriff's vehicles dotted housing developments that abutted the ridge.

Sally Betts of Vashon Island had been hoping to hike Rattlesnake Ridge with her friends from the Renton Women's Hiking Club, but drove off for another trail after learning of the search.

"We thought that Rattlesnake is so popular, he wouldn't be there. He's an outdoorsman, he'll be off on the wilderness somewhere," Betts said.

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