The Edmond Sun

October 31, 2012

Police: Alleged arsonist experimented at Edmond well site

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — An arson suspect who allegedly experimented at a city well site made anti-government statements and wanted to use explosives to damage Edmond utilities, police said.

On Oct. 9, Edmond Technical Investigator Rockie Yardley called Detective Marion Cain to assist him at 601 Vista Lane No. 29 in the Oak Ridge Estates mobile home park, according to an incident report filed by Cain. It was released Wednesday by the Edmond Police Department.

While serving a narcotic search warrant, Yardley and other detectives located a large amount of possible chemicals in bags labeled “Potassium Nitrate,” “Sodium Nitrate,” “Aluminum Powder,” “Red Iron Oxide” and “Calcium Carbonate Limestone,” police said.

After Cain arrived at the scene and saw the chemicals he knew they could be used as components of explosives and other incendiary mixtures and were very dangerous if not handled properly, he stated in his narrative.

Yardley and Cain seized the chemicals and transported them to the Edmond Police Department’s bomb squad bunker for safe keeping and storage until they could be tested and disposed of properly, police said.

On Oct. 10, Cain and another detective went to the same address looking for a resident at the same home, police said. Another resident did not know the location of the person sought, police said.

The resident voluntarily spoke with the detectives, and their questions centered around a drug-related case, police said. Cain’s questions focused on the listed chemicals.

Initially, the witness said he knew nothing about the chemicals found the previous day, but eventually admitted to knowing they were being stored in a cabinet in the living room, police said. Sometime during the summer, the other person ordered the chemicals online, police said.

When Cain asked the witness what the chemicals were for he said the person who ordered them talked about using them to blow up phone poles and power boxes around Hafer Park, which was located just south of the home, police said.

The witness said the person who ordered the chemicals mixed two of them together in a bowl in a gas grill to make “thermite,” police said. They were then lit with a fireworks sparkler, and when the mixture began to burn the lid was closed and a loud noise was heard, police said.

Generally speaking, thermite is a chemical mixture that produces an exothermic oxidation-reduction reaction that can create bursts of extremely high temperatures focused on a very small area for a short period of time.

Cain stated that he saw ashes in the grill and that an unknown object had fractured the top lid, making a hole.

Cain stated that he asked the witness if he was aware of any other times the person who ordered the chemicals had mixed them together causing an explosion or fire.

The witness said he saw him place chemicals on an exterior locking mechanism of a concrete building on the northeast side of Hafer Park, police said. The person tried to burn off the lock on the “hatch,” but when the mixture exploded and began to burn they ran away and did not return to see what damage had been caused, police said.

Also, the witness said the person had made anti-government statements and wanted to use explosives to cause damage to Edmond utilities, police said.

After the interview, Cain went to the stated location in Hafer Park. He found a City of Edmond water well site where there was obvious charring on and around the locking mechanism, police said. City workers confirmed the structure is a city well site, police said.

Police said the suspect, who was not identified in the incident report, faces a third-degree arson complaint.

In addition to the chemicals, officers seized more than 4 feet of green cannon fuse, police said. | 341-2121, ext. 108