Along with chemicals, fuses, guns and bomb-making materials, police say Todd Dwight Wheeler Jr. had how-to manuals in his Glen Burnie home with titles such as "Boobytraps," "Deadly Brew," "Highly Explosive Pyrotechnic Compositions" and "The Poor Man's James Bond."
Anne Arundel County police and fire officials said Tuesday that they still don't know why Wheeler, 28, was allegedly making bombs in his house on Edgerly Road. But they believe responders averted a potential disaster when they seized more than 100 pounds of chemicals and bomb-making materials and arrested him.
"Whatever his intentions were, the investigation prevented that from happening and prevented people from being injured," said Capt. Robert Howarth, lead fire investigator in the case, during a news conference at the county Fire Department headquarters in Millersville.
Officials displayed evidence including glass jars labeled "ammonium chloride," "potassium chlorate" and "sulfur." Investigators said that since last Thursday, they had also seized several handguns and rifles from the home.
Howarth said had the materials exploded, the blast radius could have stretched 50 yards.
"He was making bombs, and he was making explosives," he said.
Wheeler "had the capability of causing destruction and terror in our county," said Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.
Wheeler was charged with two counts of making explosives, two counts of possessing explosive materials and one count of reckless endangerment. Officials said more charges are likely. He has been held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center in Annapolis since Thursday on $400,000 bail. Police announced his arrest Friday and described their investigation at Tuesday's news conference.
Investigators said they were tipped off to possible criminal activity on New Year's Day, when one of Wheeler's relatives, who lives on Oakdale Circle in Millersville, called 911 reporting a suicidal person. Paramedics found Wheeler at the home suffering from injuries caused by "chemical or mechanical reactions" and took him to Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie.
Officials did not describe Wheeler's injuries in detail, but indicated he had burns to one of his limbs that paramedics determined could have come from a blast.
Chief Kevin Davis of Anne Arundel police said as first responders talked with Wheeler, they "became suspicious of his story, suspicious of his injuries and suspicious of his distinct chemical odor."
Cute, and with a distinctive odor!