Man Charged in '22 House Blast near Fort Worth, TX

May 1, 2024
The natural gas explosion destroyed his house and damaged five others.

A man has been arrested and accused of intentionally causing a natural gas explosion that destroyed his house and damaged other homes near Fort Worth in 2022, Westworth Village police said Tuesday.

Mitchell Glenn Evans, 33, was taken into custody on Saturday in Brown County by Brownwood police on a charge of arson of a habitation, a first-degree felony.

Evans was the only person inside his Westworth Village home in the 5600 block of Watters Place when the house exploded around 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2022, police said. Evans was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas in critical condition for burns he suffered in the blast.

The explosion caused structural damage that left about five other houses on the street uninhabitable, city officials said at the time.

The investigation, which unfolded over more than a year, revealed Evans was responsible for the explosion, police said in a news release.

According to a search warrant obtained by the Star-Telegram, investigators learned that Evans’ wife left him and took their children with her two days before the explosion.

On the day and night leading up to the explosion, Evans sent his wife numerous messages through voicemail, text and social media in which he threatened to harm or kill himself if she did not “get back” with him and he said he “had a plan” to do so, an arson investigator wrote in an affidavit supporting the search warrant.

“I just wanted to tell you I love you,” Evans said in part of one voicemail, according to the affidavit. “Please give our babies hugs and kisses. This is going to be the last time you hear from me. ...”

Atmos Energy records reviewed by investigators showed “an incredibly high and unusual delivery of natural gas” to the couple’s home between 4 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the day of the blast, the warrant stated. The amount of natural gas was “consistent with the results that would be reported if someone intentionally released natural gas into the home,” according to the warrant.

The records showed the house could have been filled with four times the amount of natural gas needed to cause a destructive explosion when ignited by a open flame, the warrant stated.

The warrant also noted that Evans had training as a plumber, which meant he had knowledge of how natural gas fixtures work.

Evans texted his wife again about 10 minutes after the explosion and told her the house “blew,” the warrant stated.

Craig Strain, who owns several houses in the neighborhood, was first to arrive at the scene and found Evans standing in the rubble and screaming. Strain helped Evans walk away from the wreckage of his home, he told police.

After he was placed in the back of an ambulance, Evans told a detective that he was in bed when the house “blew up,” according to the search warrant affidavit. Evans had mostly second-degree burns on about 75% of his body. He was treated by the ambulance crew and then put into a helicopter to be flown to the burn unit at Parkland.

An investigator wrote in the search warrant that evidence including the extent of his injuries and where he was found contradicted Evans’ statement that he was lying in bed when the explosion happened.

A warrant for Evans’ arrest was obtained on March 8 of this year, police said. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

The Fort Worth Fire Department’s Arson/Bomb Unit and ATF, in addition to other local police departments, assisted Westworth Village police in the investigation.

Atmos Energy also responded to the scene to help with the investigation. The electricity and natural gas in the Westworth Village neighborhood were turned off as a precaution following the explosion.

Debris covered the street and neighbors’ yards, and residents up to a couple of miles away felt their houses shake.

Kristina Smith, who lived across the street from the house that exploded, said the blast knocked pictures from her walls and felt like a “shockwave that came through.”

“We’re super grateful to be alive,” she told the Star-Telegram at the time.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, call 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

©2024 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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