Kansas House Blast Caused by Illegal Explosives

The manufacturing of cardboard improvised explosive devices is thought to have been the cause of a blast that destroyed a Kansas City home and killing one of its occupants.


June 13--Residents of a Kansas City house that blew up last week may have been manufacturing illegal explosives for two years, according to federal court documents.

One of the residents told an investigator that Wiley Mitchell, who died of injuries suffered in the explosion, had been making cardboard improvised explosive devices at the house, according to a search warrant application.

Eric Carter, who lived in the house on the 9100 block of Tennessee Avenue, told investigators that Mitchell was selling the devices, commonly referred to as M-80s, documents said. Carter told investigators he helped Mitchell make about 1,500 M-80s in June 2013.

On June 4, an explosion and fire at the house injured six people, two of them critically. Mitchell died earlier this week after losing both legs and an arm and being burned on 80 percent of his body. Mike Pierce, who also lived in the house, lost a foot and was burned on 50 percent of his body, according to documents.

Carter told investigators Mitchell had long, red cardboard tubes delivered to the house before the explosion. Mitchell had been waiting for a shipment of more components to make M-80s on the day of the explosion, according to the documents.

Mitchell had a green bowl in the basement that contained a gray explosive mixture left over from making explosives last year, Carter told investigators. Ryan Zornes, the special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who wrote the warrant, said the powder was consistent with flash powder, the main ingredient in M-80s.

Kansas City police interviewed Andrea Pankey, Pierce's wife, at the University of Kansas Medical Center the night of the explosion, documents said. She told investigators that Mitchell and Pierce had manufactured cherry bombs last year and sold them and that the two might have been making them again, causing the explosion.

On June 6, investigators seized a number of items from the house. Among the items were several guns, including shotguns and rifles, and several kinds of ammunition. They also found different kinds of cardboard tubes, red fuses, a plastic lid with explosive powder residue and a white lid labeled "potassium perchlorate."

To reach Allie Hinga, call 816-234-4070 or send email to ahinga@kcstar.com.

 

 

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