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'Fascination with guns, distaste for authority': Police say reclusive North Bend double murder suspect likely at large in woods
As King County officers searched the area for Peter Alex Keller this week, county prosecutors were compiling a case against him, including two first-degree murder charges and a count of first-degree arson.
Keller has been missing since Sunday, when a fire at his North Bend rental home at 47227 S.W. 159th St., was reported and firefighters discovered the bodies of his wife, Lynnettee, 41, and daughter, Kaylene, 18 both dead from .22 caliber gunshot wounds to the head, inside.
Keller was a person of interest in the case until Wednesday, April 25, when he was formally charged with the murders and setting the fire in King County Superior Court. If captured and convicted, he will be sentenced to between 51 and 65 years in prison.
County officials believe Keller is hiding somewhere in the woods, and are warning hikers and community members to be on the lookout for the man. He is believed to have a large number of firearms with him, since they are missing from the home.
The evidence against Keller, described in the charging documents, suggest that he had been planning the crimes for some time. He reportedly withdrew $6,200 in cash from an Issaquah branch of Chase Bank on Friday, April 20, turned off his cell phone the following evening, and had scheduled the Monday, Thursday and Friday before the murders off from his job in Preston. A co-worker told detectives that he'd asked Keller when he'd be back to work, and "Peter replied that he may not come back next week, the week after that, or maybe never," the document stated.
The court papers state that another co-worker listed some of the firearms that Keller owned, including high-powered rifles with scopes, and silencers. The co-worker also stated that Keller had not told his wife about the purchase of the silencers, because they were so expensive. Two empty boxes for silencers were found on the floor of the master bedroom, where Lynnettee Keller was found. Also on the floor were a box of .22 caliber bullets scattered around the room, empty firearms boxes, and spent .22 shell casings.
Detectives at the scene of the fire reported finding the shed door open, something the neighbor who reported the fire said was "unusual." In the shed, they located the probable hiding place of four or five of the seven plastic gas cans found inside the home, all filled with an ignitable liquid that smelled like gasoline.
According to the court documents, arson investigators found that the fire was deliberately set. They said someone had placed a one-gallon plastic gas can in a skillet on top of the electric stove, and turned the burner on. The fumes inside the can ignited, and the fire quickly spread, causing damage to the roof and a partial collapse in the kitchen. A five-gallon gas can on the floor had melted from the heat, causing the liquid to spill out, igniting the floor of the kitchen. The arson investigators estimated the fire started within 30 minutes of the burner being turned on.
Two more five-gallon gas cans and three two-gallon cans had been set throughout the home and were each expanded almost to the point of failure when firefighters removed them from the home.
The fire was quickly put out, and the victims removed. Firefighters reported that Kaylene, found in the top bunk of a rear bedroom, was limp, indicating that rigor mortis had not begun, and "death had occurred within a short period of time," the charging papers stated.
A spent shell casing was found in Lynnettee's hair. There were two gunshot wounds on her head, behind her right ear, and on top of her head. Kaylene had a single wound, bound her left ear. The report stated that it appeared to be a contact wound.
Also found at the home were the family dog and cat, both dead. Monday, the Medical Examiner X-rayed the animals and found that each had also been shot.
Keller was not at the home, nor was his car, a Toyota Corolla, found a few hours later near the North Bend Library. The vehicle was empty, with all the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition. It showed no signs of having been stolen from the home and abandoned.
The location of the vehicle at this site first suggested to investigators that Keller might be in the woods. Family members and acquaintances had described him as an avid outdoorsman, who frequently hiked alone in the woods.
Court documents described detectives' conversations with Kaylene's boyfriend, and with members of Lynnettee's family, which showed Keller to be a survivalist, recluse, and gun collector. He also owned body armor, according to a co-worker.
Detectives reported in the court papers that Kaylene's boyfriend had heard from her that her father was preparing for the end of the world, and building a stockpile of weapons and supplies at a "fort" in the woods. The boyfriend also stated that Keller had purchased a new laptop computer within the last two weeks. The laptop was not found at the home, according to the charging papers.
Members of Lynnettee's family said Keller was reclusive, "had a fascination with trains and guns; that he had a survivalist mentality and distaste for authority," according to the court documents.
Members of Keller's family reportedly hadn't heard from him since November.
King County investigators ask anyone with information about Keller, or anyone who remembers seeing his red Toyota pickup truck parked at a trailhead, to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at (206) 296-3311 or 911.