The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

‘Survivalist’ Suspected of Killing Family Found Dead in Bunker

By Bill Morlin on April 30, 2012 - 10:11 am, Posted in Antigovernment

A double-murder suspect described as having a “survivalist mentality” was found dead – an apparent suicide – over the weekend in a heavily fortified bunker he built on a hillside in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.

Peter A. Keller, a 41-year-old gun enthusiast and computer repairman, was charged Wednesday in the deaths of his wife, Lynnettee, and their 18-year-old daughter, Kaylene. The victims, along with the couple’s dog and cat, were found fatally shot April 22 in their North Bend, Wash., home, which had been deliberately set afire.

With that discovery, authorities began looking for Keller. They were aided by pictures of a survivalist bunker they found in his arson-charred family home.

Keller spent eight years building and supplying the two-story bunker hidden from sight on Rattlesnake Ridge, in the foothills of the Cascades, where he would frequently hike, investigators learned. A family friend told authorities that Keller had been preparing for the “end of the world,” the Seattle Times reported Sunday.

By Friday, after enhancing photos to identify landmarks and spending seven hours scouring the rugged, steep terrain, authorities found the “amazingly fortified” bunker, which had multiple entrances, dug into Rattlesnake Ridge not far from the family home in King County.

After seeing lights go on and off and smelling smoke come from the hideout, SWAT teams set up surveillance Friday night, unsure if the fugitive was inside the bunker or if it was booby-trapped.

After tactical officers called for Keller on bullhorns, they pumped in tear gas without results. Finally, on Saturday they set off explosives, allowing them to peel back the top of the 20-foot-long bunker and spot Keller’s body. He had apparently shot himself in the head with a handgun found nearby, deputies said.

After the body was discovered, tactical officers rappelled in from a helicopter to look for booby traps and explosives but found none.

“This isn’t a hole in the ground. It’s an elaborate structure,” King County Sheriff Steve Strachan told the Seattle newspaper.

Inside the bunker, investigators found 13 handguns and rifles, a powerful rifle scope, two bullet-proof vests, a laptop computer and various hard drives, a stockpile of ammunition in sealed bags, propane tanks, a generator and gasoline, food, water and a wood stove.

Authorities didn’t immediately disclose if Keller was associated with any antigovernment groups or militia-types organizations but were expected to closely examine the computer found in the bunker.

  • Reynardine

    Gregory, I am aware of the quantities of inbreeders, and they’re not romantic. But I was born in Chicago and lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and spent most of my life in Dade County, whose character was transformed many times over. Cities are great when you’re young. I’m not.

  • man

    people need to understand the distinctions between surviving adversity and going out in a blaze of glory. The two practices don’t seem very compatible to me, so they should not be confused with one another.

  • Gregory

    Reynardine,
    Not that it matters for this discussion, but I have resided in rural areas on three different continents, as a child and as an adult. Some were extremely remote and sparsely populated. I’m an urban dweller now, by choice, free of any romantic notions of country life.

  • Reynardine

    Golden Rule, what hot chicks? The older strains of Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire Red actually do well in this heat, but I never noticed any one kind being hotter than any other kind. For eggs and for brooding, though, nothing beats the original Cracker strain.

    Gregory, I haven’t got *all* these skills, but it sounds as if you’ve never lived outside a city. No, I haven’t got rounds and rounds of anything, and I can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I’m just saying there is good reason to know how to be self-sufficient up to several weeks. In 2004, we were knocked out by hurricanes for six weeks, but at least we had a lot better than the survivors of Katrina. With (p)Rick Scott in office, we might not be.

  • Golden Rule

    Flori-duh? I resemble that remark. So, the survivalists get all the really hot chicks, WoW, that’s good to know, I wonder if these hot chicks like bunkers? Oh man, now I have to start working on that project…

  • Gregory

    Rey,
    I’m curious, what part of my comment about “prudent” preparations necessitated a lecture? I admire your range of skills, but most of the country lives in a situation where the Firefox books are of little practical use.

    Presumably you haven’t stockpiled thousands of rounds of ammunition and acquired enough firearms to equip a platoon just yet, like the “survivalist” under discussion. On the other hand, you have mentioned that you reside in Flori-duh, so it may be a bit more like Mad Max than my part of the country.

  • Reynardine

    Well, no, Gregory, we already have stuff going on. For example, if you want decent, affordable fruits and vegetables that haven’t been shot full of chemicals, mutant centipede genes, and fecal coliform bacteria, you’d better learn how to grow them. If you want eggs from healthy chickens that aren’t stuffed into cages full of salmonella, a couple of backyard chickens aren’t a bad idea. If you want to have this stuff in good condition even if weird weather and crumbling infrastructure knocks your power out, learn how to can and pickle. Know how to make repairs, restore furniture, and refurbish clothes, and you’re ahead of the game. Everyone should have first aid supplies and some knowledge of how to use them. Although I practice the arts only sporadically, I can bake bread and make wine, and some of the latter has been good enough people have asked me to take up shining (but I didn’t). I can stick it out through multiple hurricanes better than most people, and if things went blooey over a stretch, I could probably teach it to other people. I don’t expect things to go blooey, but they could. And now, I must feed my alarm clock, since he’ll have to wake us up first thing.

  • Jane Schiff

    I’m curious if this guy complied with filing income tax returns, assuming he met the financial requirements for filing.

  • Gregory

    “Survivalist” mentality does not refer to someone who is prudently prepared for the kind of disasters that we might reasonably face as a highly industrialized society. Generally speaking, a survivalist is someone who harbours fantasies of our society collapsing into a Mad Max type dystopia, where they will fight heroically and get the hot chicks. It is, simply put, an adolescent fantasy.

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Rey,

    Forgive me if my writing was unclear. I was hardly calling his survivalist interests insane. I was calling the clear mental illness that drove him to murder his wife, daughter, cat, and dog insanity.

    Survivalism doesn’t kill people. Insanity with a side order of survivalism does.

  • Reynardine

    Aron, you may have the cart before the horse. He wasn’t a murdering paranoid because he was a survivalist. He became a survivalist because he was a murderous paranoid.

    In the broad sense, a survivalist could be someone who believes in, say, windmills, vegetable gardening and poultry-raising (food self-sustainability), well water, and acquiring a number of skills taught by Scouts, both boy and girl. Such a person could even be a “pot-hunter” who supplies the family larder with good marksmanship and not be a misanthropic loonytune. There are many such people who are pleasant, sociable, and no danger to their neighbors…but the mode of life also attracts the violently paranoid, whose derangement makes them a danger to their family members, their communities, and humanity at large. Often, their will towards body-and-soul control of their “tribe” causes them to establish “fortress” households so isolated from the outside world that no one can see in to monitor or get out to tell. This man was one of that kind.

  • WGBlomberg

    “Survivalist Mentality”. What exactly does THAT mean??

    I would think that anyone that wants to live, has a “survivalist mentality”. Or, are they meaning the type that will prepare for emergencies? Again, there are lots of people like that, myself included, and including anyone here that has extra supplies cached about in case of an emergency.

    This story is just starting, and there is much more to it then has been posted/reported so far, but this type of media hype (though, that information came from the local law enforcement, I believe) is probably going to do more harm then good.

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Cue the moonbats letting out cries of ‘THE GUBBERMINT DID IT!!!’

    What a terrible, terrible shame. His family should NOT have suffered for his insanity. Shameful.

    And then he took the coward’s way out. Either stand for your beliefs and accept punishment, or die trying.

    At least this way there was no further loss of life to add to the tragedy.