Peter Keller, killer of wife, daughter said: 'I can always shoot myself'
In a chilling video released Thursday by the King County Sheriff's Office, outlaw-survivalist Peter Keller spoke matter-of-factly about...
Seattle Times staff reporter
To donateTo donate to the scholarship fund founded in Kaylene Keller's name, go to www.seattlefoundation.org/kaylene
To view Peter Keller's video, which the King County Sheriff's Office has uploaded to YouTube, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=aodgtiB7ShE
In a chilling video released Thursday by the King County Sheriff's Office, outlaw-survivalist Peter Keller spoke matter-of-factly about killing his wife and daughter, living in the elaborate bunker he spent years building near Rattlesnake Ridge, and robbing banks and pharmacies, "just taking what I want for as long as I can."
He also talked of his plan to kill himself if police "put it together" and discovered his location.
"I do have my escape and that's death," Keller, 41, said with a chuckle. "I can always shoot myself. I'm OK with that."
The video was filmed by Keller a couple of weeks before he fatally shot his wife Lynnettee, 41, and 18-year-old daughter, Kaylene, in their beds on April 22. He then torched their North Bend home, ringing the residence with gas cans and other booby traps in an unsuccessful effort to destroy evidence that ultimately led detectives to the hideout he painstakingly dug out of a hillside.
Almost 10 minutes long and filmed over at least two days, the video was found inside a camera that was located in Keller's bunker after he fatally shot himself in the head five days later, as SWAT team members closed in on him after getting a whiff of wood smoke and spotting a freshly cut tree.
Along with food, body armor, weapons, ammunition and other supplies, detectives found "tens of thousands of dollars" in bundles inside the two-level bunker, which also had a woodstove made from a metal garbage can, a ventilation system and PVC pipe that brought in water from a nearby stream.
Lynnettee Keller's mother, sister and twin brother announced at a news conference with King County Sheriff Steve Strachan on Thursday that all of the money found in the bunker — the exact sum was not disclosed — along with assets from the Keller estate will be used to establish a scholarship fund in Kaylene Keller's name.
The scholarship will be for female students interested in attending the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, where Kaylene dreamed of going to further her education in video-game design.
At the time of her death, Kaylene was a student at Bellevue College and was working as a video-game tester, according to her relatives and boyfriend, 19-year-old Carson Brammer.
The scholarship fund, which is to be administered by the Seattle Foundation, "is the way we can best honor my sister and niece," said Kimberly Rocha-Pearson.
Gene Rocha, Lynnettee Keller's twin, said the family never saw any signs of trouble in the Keller marriage. He said Peter Keller was "a very quiet individual" who had a "loving relationship" with his daughter.
Though sheriff's officials offered to show him Keller's video footage, Rocha said he doesn't plan to see it. It's "almost sick to even watch it. I don't want to see him. It won't give me any answers," he said.
During the news conference, Strachan and Detective Robin Cleary gave a rundown of the investigation — beginning with the 911 call from a neighbor who saw smoke and summoned firefighters before flames could destroy crucial evidence — that included a series of photos taken over the course of nine years that enabled detectives to narrow their search for Keller's bunker. Detectives also found hand-drawn plans for the bunker; a note written by Keller on one of the designs indicated he planned to build labs "for viruses and nanobots," Strachan said. "What his ultimate plans were are a mystery."
Tracking down Keller made for a challenging manhunt in rough, steep terrain, said Strachan. After using Keller's photos to come up with a general location, three teams of SWAT officers scaled the hill above the bunker and worked their way down the ridge, each following a different stream, he said.
One of the teams, which found Keller's hideout, reported hearing a "pop" on the afternoon of April 27, after gas was pumped into the bunker in an attempt to flush Keller out. His body was discovered the next day: Strachan said Keller shot himself on the top floor of the bunker, then fell to the lower level. A radio was found beneath his body, proof that he'd been monitoring media reports, he said.
Along with the video, detectives found the .22-caliber Walther handgun used to kill Lynnettee and Kaylene Keller in a jacket belonging to Peter Keller inside the bunker, said Cleary, the lead detective in the case. The bunker has since been dismantled and filled in with dirt and logs.
The video is "breathtaking in its evil," said Strachan, and it makes clear that Keller planned for weeks, months, or perhaps even years, to kill his wife and daughter.
Wearing a gray sweatshirt, his double chin covered in stubble, Keller looked into the handheld camera and described his plan, which he said he had no remorse about putting into action.
"At least it'll be exciting," he said. "It won't be boring and I don't have to worry about Lynnettee or Kaylene and everything will be taken care of. It'll just be me."
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org