BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. - Karen and Jim Reynolds say they came face to face with fugitive Christopher Dorner, not on a snow-covered mountain trail but inside their cabin-style condo.
During a 15-minute ordeal just a stone's throw from a command post authorities had set up in the massive manhunt for the ex-Los Angeles police officer, the couple said Dorner bound them and put pillowcases on their heads. He said he had been there for days.
"He said, 'I don't have a problem with you, so I'm not going to hurt you,' " Jim Reynolds said. "I didn't believe him; I thought he was going to kill us."
Police have not commented on the Reynoldses' account, but it renews questions about the thoroughness of a search for a man who authorities declared was armed and extremely dangerous as they hunted him across the Southwest and Mexico.
Remains found in the burned cabin where Dorner made his last stand Tuesday were positively identified Thursday through dental examination, said Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff-coroner.
The department did not disclose the cause of death, and officials said the autopsy report was still being completed. Toxicology tests could take weeks.
The search for Dorner began last week after authorities said he had launched a deadly revenge campaign against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing, warning in a manifesto that he would bring "warfare" to LAPD officers and their families.
The LAPD had said protection details for about 50 officers and their families would be maintained until the remains in the cabin were positively identified. The last of them were called off Thursday morning, police spokeswoman Officer Rosario Herrera said.
The manhunt for Dorner brought police to Big Bear Lake, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, after his burned-out pickup truck was found abandoned last week. His footprints disappeared on frozen soil, and hundreds of officers who searched the area and checked out each building failed to find him.
The idea that he holed up just across the street from the command post was shocking, but not totally surprising to some experts.
"It's not an unfathomable oversight. We're human. It happens," said Ed Tatosian, a retired SWAT commander for the Sacramento Police Department.
According to the Reynoldses, the cabin has cable TV and a second-story view that would have allowed Dorner to see choppers flying in and out.
Timothy Clemente, a retired FBI SWAT team leader who was part of the search for Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, said searchers had to work methodically and have to have a reason to enter a building.
"You can't just kick in every door," he said.
Even peering through windows can be difficult, because officers have to remove a hand from their weapons to shade their eyes.
In many cases, officers didn't even knock on the doors, according to searchers and residents.
"If Chris Dorner's on the other side of the door, what would the response be?" Clemente said. "A .50-caliber round or .223 round straight through that door."