Dorner tried to calm them, the couple said. "He had his gun drawn the whole time," Karen Reynolds said.
He ordered them to lie down and bound their hands behind their backs with plastic ties, telling them he would not kill them, but needed transportation out of Big Bear, they said.
He then gagged them, put pillowcases on their heads and left, they said.
Throughout, he was calm, they said.
"He said I don't have a problem with you, I just want to clear my name," Jim Reynolds said.
The man then took their 2011 Nissan Rogue, they said.
It was not clear how long he had been there, a bag of carrots and milk were in the refrigerator, they said.
At around 12:20 p.m., some 15 minutes after he left, they freed themselves and called 911 to report the incident, they said.
"We're very happy to be alive," Karen Reynolds said. "I didn't wish him dead though ... I prayed for him a lot and I'm praying for his family now."
A 'guy with a big gun'
At 12:45 p.m., Fish and Wildlife wardens spotted the SUV and began pursuing it.
The wardens, driving in separate vehicles, chased Dorner, and a gunbattle ensued. One of the warden's cars was hit, and Dorner crashed his car and ran, according to authorities. He then carjacked a pickup truck.
Rick Heltebrake, a camp ranger, said he was driving when he saw the crashed purple vehicle -- and then something terrifying.
"Here comes this guy with a big gun, and I knew who it was right away," Heltebrake told CNN affiliate KTLA. "He just came out of the snow at me with his gun at my head. He said, 'I don't want to hurt you. Just get out of the car and start walking.' "
Heltebrake said the man let him take his dog and walk away with his hands up.
"Not more than 10 seconds later, I heard a loud round of gunfire," Heltebrake said. "Ten to 20 rounds, maybe. I found out later what that was all about."
Dorner fled to a nearby cabin and got into another shootout, this time with the San Bernardino County deputies, killing one and wounded another.
Some of the firefight between police and the suspect was captured live on the telephone of a reporter for CNN affiliates KCBS and KCAL. Police in Los Angeles listened live over police scanners broadcast on the Internet, LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said.
"It was horrifying to listen to that firefight," he said. "To hear those words, 'officer down,' is the most gut-wrenching experience you can have as a police officer, because you know what that means."
Audio from a Los Angeles television station captured the sound of someone early in the standoff shouting, "Burn it down ... burn that goddamn house down. Burn it down." It's not clear who used those words.
But the order to use smoke canisters -- "burners" -- didn't come for another two hours, according to San Bernardino County sheriff's radio traffic.
"Seven burners deployed, and we have a fire," one officer reported at 4:16 p.m. (7:16 p.m. ET).
Five minutes later, a single gunshot was reported from inside the house. A senior officer ordered units around the cabin, "Stand by. Maintain your discipline." About a minute after that, officers reported ammunition exploding inside.
Sheriff's investigators confirmed overnight that they had found charred human remains among the ashes.
Dorner cheered in some quarters