Murder suspect believed to be holed up in Rattlesnake Ridge bunker
April 27, 2012 · Updated 5:02 PM
Police are now in a waiting game with the person—believed to be North Bend double murder suspect Peter A. Keller— entrenched in a spider hole atop Rattlesnake Ridge.
The King County Sheriff’s Office Friday located the bunker that homicide suspect Keller is believed to be hiding in, located in the hillside near the Rattlesnake Ridge trailhead above Snoqualmie.
In a press conference, King County Sheriff Steve Strachan related how teams carefully made their way into position around the well-hidden lair in an early morning operation Friday.
For officers seeking an alleged killer, the fortified bunker is difficult to approach—"almost impossible to do in a safe way," the sheriff said.
"We want to make sure, with this violent person inside, the way he's prepared, that our deputies are safe," Strachan added. "It may be some time."
Police have set up an inner and outer perimeter around the bunker, "so he can't get out and nobody can get in.:
County and Seattle Police SWAT teams began a systematic search of the area about 5 a.m. Friday. The bunker was built in a steep, heavily wooded area a few hundred yard from the trailhead.
"It's off the beaten path," Strachan said. "It's not very near the trail, but… this is certainly not backcountry."
Sheriff’s Detectives found clues to the whereabouts of the bunker after processing the crime scene at the house where two women, Keller's daughter and wife, were murdered. Detectives also received tips from citizens who had seen Keller’s truck at the Rattlesnake Ridge Trailhead over the past year.
Based on the photos detectives discovered of the bunker at the crime scene, Keller is believed to have been building it since 2004. The bunker appears to be fortified by logs, dirt and was very well hidden. It goes back at least 20 feet into the hillside.
Deputies had sealed off the terminus of North Bend Way Friday morning, and had also asked media to stay quiet about the operation, but passersby who noticed the convergence of television cameras quickly guessed that Keller had been found.
Strachan praised the detective work that led to the discovery of the bunker. Photos found on Keller's home computer gave detectives clues about where the lair might be, and with his truck frequently spotted at the trailhead, police zeroed in. Trackers hiked the power lines, visible in one of Keller's shots from the bunker, and found signs of traffic leading toward the site.
When SWAT teams went looking for it, they could smell wood smoke from the stove inside before they could see it.
"The plan was that this evidence would have been destroyed by the fire" that Keller is alleged to have started at his home, Strachan said.
"The neighbors called too quickly, and the fire department came too quickly. That was critical to what led us here today," he added. "We asked for tips from the public, and they came through."
Strachan wouldn't speculate on the reasons behind the tragedy.
"To try to apply some sort of rational reason is futile," he said. "Hopefully, he will be taken into custody and we will find some of those things out."
"It's an extraordinary case," Strachan added. "His behavior is irrational, combined with a level of preparation and intelligence. It's a very unusual case. We're hoping we can resolve it peaceably."
The view from Keller's bunker, under construction in this 2004 photo.
Victims Lynnettee Keller, 41, and daughter, Kaylene, 18, were killed on Sunday, April 22, March
Peter A. Keller, 41, is the suspect in the deaths of two North Bend women. Tips can be made to the King County Sheriff’s Office at (206) 296-3311 or 911