Police on Monday allowed news cameras for the first time inside the elaborate, camouflaged bunker in a wooded mountainside where survivalist and accused murderer Peter Keller hid and committed suicide when surrounded by police Saturday.
The heavily reinforced bunker had a built-in smokestack and running water. Dozens of assault rifles and other weapons and stack of ammunition boxes were removed earlier.
“We estimate there are at least 50 large garbage bags worth of this gentleman's belongings and items that are still in the hole -- sports drinks, cola, a lot of bottled water … baggies, batteries, a lot of electrical material, there's a drill right there. I mean, he's got a generator in there,” said Doug Williams of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.
One investigator called it something out of a survivalist handbook. Getting to it requires a two-mile drive up a mountain road and then a half-hour hike through heavy woods even farther up Rattlesnake Ridge in the Cascade foothills.
"You can see the rough-hewn logs, the timbers that were milled here on the site, and a pulley across this ravine that's in the background. It's incredibly well-reinforced. The hole goes down 20 feet maybe. There are three levels all together, a couple of hundred square feet underground in this area,” Williams said.
Inside were also light switches and plumbing for running water.
It is believed Keller did most of the construction work under the cover of darkness.
"I believe he was using the roads to drive his pickup up there to ferry up heavy equipment, set it on the ground, drive away and he could come back and ferry by foot little pieces,” King County Sheriff’s deputy Troy Chaffee said.
Now that all of the guns and ammo and other dangerous items have been removed, county officials consider the bunker a danger to the public and will take steps to destroy it by the end of this week.
"Granted we're in the middle of nowhere, but hunters go into areas, kids run around in the woods and we certainly don't want anything to happen to anyone as a result of this location, so by week's end we hope to have this gone,” Williams said.
Earlier Monday, the body found inside the bunker by police on Saturday was positively identified as Keller. The King County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a suicide, by a single gunshot to the head.Law enforcement officers were able to locate the bunker last Friday by using photos of the general area on Keller's computer.
After surrounding the bunker for about 24 hours, King County sheriff’s SWAT deputies used an explosive to blow a hole in the roof of the bunker and then entered the hideout at about 10 a.m. Saturday.
"Once inside, deputies discovered a body, which they said appeared to be Keller, and it appeared as though he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound," King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said..Keller, 41, was accused of shooting to death his wife, Lynnettee Rocha Keller, 41, and their daughter, Kaylene Keller, 19, in their North Bend home before setting the house on fire on April 22.
Firefighters responding to the blaze discovered the women's bodies. Keller had not been seen since the killings, and no weapons were found in the house. Keller was said to own high-powered rifles, handguns and body armor. He was charged last Wednesday with two counts of murder and one count of arson.
Police trackers found the underground bunker Friday morning and brought in reinforcements.
"We have determined there is movement, there is someone inside the bunker; we believe it is Peter Keller," King County Sheriff Steve Strachan said Friday afternoon.
In charging documents filed last Wednesday, police said Kaylene Keller's boyfriend, who had been dating her for about a year, told them that Peter Keller showed him his gun collection that included several large-caliber rifles and handguns. He said Keller often took long hikes in the woods and “he learned from Kaylene that he was preparing for the end of the world.”
The boyfriend said Kaylene told him that Keller often took extra supplies with him to stockpile at a “fort” in the woods.
Police said they had also received tips from North Bend area residents who reported seeing Peter Keller's truck near the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail head over the course of the past year.
Detectives found clues about the bunker's location after processing the crime scene at the North Bend home that Keller is believed to have set on fire.
Based on photographs that detectives found on a computer hard drive at the North Bend home, it appeared Keller had been building the bunker for the past eight years. The photos of its construction dated from 2004.
Detectives enhanced the photos they found at the Keller home and used power lines and landmarks in the background to help plot and triangulate where the bunker might be located.