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Explosion ends bunker standoff in Washington state; body found

April 28, 2012|By Dalina Castellanos
  • A sheriff's department photo shows the entrance of a bunker where authorities believe Peter Keller was holed up after killing his wife and daughter.
A sheriff's department photo shows the entrance of a bunker where… (King County Sheriff's Department…)

After surrounding an underground bunker in Washingon state for almost a day, King County SWAT officers used explosives Saturday to blow their way inside -- where they found the body of a man believed to be survivalist Peter Keller.

Keller, 41, was suspected of killing his wife and daughter last weekend and setting the family's house on fire. Seattle police and King County sheriff's teams, after locating the bunker, had been attempting to negotiate with him, King County Sheriff's Sgt. Katie Larson told The Times.

The standoff followed almost a week of searching for the heavily armed survivalist.

Keller had not been seen since his wife, Lynnettee, 41, and daughter Kaylene, 18, were found shot to death at their home in North Bend, Wash. He was believed to have spent nearly eight years carving an elaborate, multilevel bunker into the rugged terrain of Rattlesnake Ridge, in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, and authorities focused their search there.

Authorities had an idea of where the bunker was located based on photographs found in the Keller home after the killings. They combined information gleaned from those photos with reports from hikers who recalled seeing Keller’s faded red pickup truck at the Rattlesnake Ridge trail head.

SWAT teams had to crawl over steep terrain for hours before they found the bunker Friday afternoon, causing some to suffer from dehydration, Larson said.

After a standoff that lasted almost 23 hours, sheriff’s SWAT officers lit explosives on the bunker’s roof at 9:15 a.m. Saturday to gain entry, Larson said.

The body found inside appeared to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Larson said, but deputies could not immediately confirm it was Keller.

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dalina.castellanos@latimes.com

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