Paul Keller was a serial arsonist who murdered three people: Evil Lives Here investigates

Profile pic of Paul Keller
Paul Keller pleaded guilty to murdering three residents of a retirement home in an arson attack. Pic credit: Paul Keller/

Evil Lives Here is investigating the case of the serial arsonist and murderer Paul Keller, who terrorized the city of Seattle, Washington, during a six month period between August 1992 and February 1993.

Keller is thought to be responsible for setting up to 107 separate fires throughout the Seattle region. He eventually confessed to causing 76 of those fires.

On September 22, 1992, he set a fire in the Four Freedoms House retirement home that led to the deaths of three individuals. Bertha Nelson, 93, and Mary Dorris, 77, died from smoke inhalation, while Adeline Stockness, 70, died from a heart attack brought on by the blaze.

The authorities initially attributed the blaze to a cigarette butt; however, further investigation proved the fire started in multiple places.

Police say Paul Keller targeted the vulnerable

Keller claimed that he never intended to hurt anybody, but the police said he deliberately targeted vulnerable people, such as the elderly and families with small children. And he usually started the fires when his victims were most likely to be sleeping.

On December 28, 1993, Keller pleaded guilty to setting the fire that killed the three residents at the retirement home and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He was already serving a 75-year sentence for admitting to setting 76 fires. He is serving them concurrently.

At the sentencing, when the judge asked Keller if he had anything to say to the court, he responded with, “there could be days worth, but I’ll leave it in your hands.”

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After Keller had been sentenced, he spoke in an interview with a local TV station and claimed that he had been sexually assaulted by a firefighter when he was twelve years old. He said he did not want to use this incident as an excuse for why he started the fires but said it was a contributing factor.

Keller’s case was depicted in a 1995 CBS made for TV movie titled Not Our Son. It starred Neil Patrick Harris in the role of the serial arsonist.

More from Evil Lives Here

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Evil Lives Here.

Shawn Grate targeted vulnerable women who had fallen through the cracks in society. He imprisoned, tortured, and strangled at least five women in rural Ohio before one of his victims managed to escape and raise the alarm.

John Meehan was a conman, a pathological liar, and an abuser of up to fifty women. When he attempted to target one of his ex-partners’ daughters, Terra Newell fought back and stabbed him to death in self-defense.

Evil Lives Here airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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