Couple who surprised Dorner describe ordeal with accused killer

Owners of a Big Bear rental cabin say they came to clean it when they came face to face with accused killer

POSTED: 05:48 AM PST Feb 14, 2013    UPDATED: 05:52 AM PST Feb 14, 2013 
Karen and Jim Reynolds were cleaning rental cabin when they encountered Christopher Dorner

New details have emerged about the final hours of the six-day manhunt for a fired Los Angeles police officer believed to have died after engaging in a deadly gun battle with law enforcement in Big Bear.

A couple said Wednesday they are the ones who discovered a man matching 33-year-old fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner's description inside a Big Bear cabin they own when they arrived on Tuesday to clean it before a pending rental.

Officials had earlier said two cleaning women had encountered the man in the cabin, which was just yards from a law enforcement staging area set up last Thursday afternoon after Dorner's pickup truck -- apparently disabled by a broken axle -- was discovered burning on a forest road.

The proximity of the hideout to where law enforcement officers had gathered daily raised questions about the effectiveness of the search of area homes, including the cabin where the couple apparently found Dorner, but the sheriff's official in charge of the search said deputies had checked each cabin in the area to determine if any had been broken into and if anyone was inside.

"All of the cabins in that particular area had teams of deputies to check to see if there was any entry ..., " said San Bernardino County sheriff's Deputy Chief Steve Kovensky.

Dorner was being hunted in connection with the slayings of two people in Irvine and a Riverside police officer.

At 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies received a report of a man matching Dorner's description stealing a car from a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View Drive in Big Bear.

The cabin's owners, 66-year-old Jim and 56-year-old Karen Reynolds, said they arrived around noon Tuesday to clean it for a pending rental and were surprised to find someone matching Dorner's description inside.

Telling the couple he wouldn't harm them and was just trying to clear his name, the man used plastic zip ties to bind their hands and legs and put towels in their mouths and pillowcases over their heads before forcing them into a back bedroom, the couple said.

He told the couple he had been in the cabin since as early as Friday and had watched them from inside as they did yard work outside before he fled to sleep elsewhere, they said.

After Dorner left, the couple managed to free themselves and call authorities.

The stolen vehicle was spotted along Highway 38 by state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers who began chasing the suspect. During the chase, he crashed, abandoned the vehicle and carjacked a man's silver pickup truck.

The suspect opened fire during the pursuit, striking the officers' vehicle, according to Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy. The officers, who returned fire, were not injured, he said.

Officials say Dorner then engaged law enforcement officers in a wild gun battle while holed up in the cabin on Seven Oaks Road just off Highway 38.

Authorities say Dorner's killing spree began on Feb. 3, when the former Navy Reserve lieutenant allegedly gunned down the daughter and future son-in-law of an ex-police captain who represented him at a hearing that resulted in his dismissal from the LAPD.

The bodies of 28-year-old Cal State Fullerton assistant women's basketball coach Monica Quan and her fiance, 27-year-old USC public safety Officer Keith Lawrence, were found in Lawrence's car in the parking structure of their Irvine condominium building.

The next day, Dorner allegedly posted a 6,000-word manifesto online, vowing to kill named LAPD officers and their families. About 50 Los Angeles police officers and their families were being protected during the manhunt, authorities said.

Last Thursday, Dorner was allegedly involved in a shootout with Los Angeles police guarding an officer's home in Corona, leaving one officer with a graze wound to the head, police said. About 20 minutes later, he allegedly fired on a pair of Riverside police officers stopped at a red light, killing Officer Michael Crain, 34, and wounding the other, who was expected to recover.

Crain, an 11-year department veteran and ex-Marine, is survived by his wife, Regina, and two children, Ian, 10, and Kaitlyn, 4. He was buried Wednesday at Riverside National Cemetery after a memorial service at Grove Community Church. Among the thousands of people paying their final respects were Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, military veterans and thousands of police officers from around the state and country.