BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — Officials said Thursday that the burned remains found in a California mountain cabin have been positively identified as fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner.
Jodi Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff-coroner, said the identification was made through Dorner’s dental records. She did not give a cause of death.
The search for Dorner began last week after he launched a deadly revenge campaign against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing.
The manhunt brought police to Big Bear Lake, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, where they found Dorner’s burned-out truck abandoned. His footprints disappeared on frozen soil and hundreds of officers failed to find him.
Five days later, but just a stone’s throw from a command post authorities had set up in the massive manhunt, Karen and Jim Reynolds said they came face to face with Dorner inside their cabin-style condo.
During a 15-minute ordeal, Dorner bound them and put pillowcases on their heads.
“He said, ‘I don’t have a problem with you, so I’m not going to hurt you,’ ” Jim Reynolds said. “I thought he was going to kill us.”
Police have not commented on the account, but it renews questions about the thoroughness of a search for a man who authorities declared was armed and extremely dangerous.
“They went door-to-door but then he’s right there under their noses. Makes you wonder if the police even knew what they were doing,” resident Shannon Schroepfer said. “He was probably sitting there laughing at them the whole time.”
The notion of him holed up across the street from the command post was not totally surprising to some specialists.
“Chilling. That’s the only word I could use for that,” said Ed Tatosian, a retired SWAT commander for the Sacramento Police Department. “It’s not an unfathomable oversight. We’re human. It happens.”
Law enforcement officers, who had gathered outside daily for briefings, were stunned by the revelation. One official later looking on Google Earth exclaimed that Dorner had parked across the street from the Reynolds cabin each day.
Karen and Jim Reynolds said Dorner was upstairs in the rental unit Tuesday when they arrived to prepare it for vacationers. Dorner confronted the couple with a drawn gun, Jim Reynolds said during a Wednesday press conference.
His wife ran downstairs but was caught, Reynolds said.
“I really thought it could be the end,” Karen Reynolds said.
The couple believes Dorner had been staying in the cabin at least since Feb. 8, the day after his burned truck was found nearby.