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Bombs: More Fun Than Laundry


Officers in Bonneville County needed 2.5 hours to talk Mike Farmer out of his basement last Thursday after they showed up to arrest him for making bomb threats to his former wife. The Twin Falls bomb squad needed the same amount of time to make the trip across eastern Idaho to see what this 53-year-old recently divorced man had concocted to attract the attention of local officers and federal ATF agents. According to squad commander Dan Lewin, the arsenal they found in Farmer's Idaho Falls hovel dwarfed any Lewin had seen in a decade—despite its quaint casing.

"It's really up to the imagination of the bomber; you can construct a device from something very sophisticated, with a time-processing unit, down to something crude, which these really were," said Lewin. Crude, in this case, meant one of the bombs was built out of a Folgers coffee container, another, a former Pringles can. Just as significantly, these and 15 additional completed bombs were surrounded by enough piled-up laundry and filth to render the department's bomb-defusing robot all but useless. It could only shoot video from the front porch as two bomb technicians donned heavy, full-coverage suits and spent almost eight hours locating and defusing the explosive devices scattered around the living room, basement, kitchen and an upstairs bedroom. All were so called "fertilizer bombs," containing a combined total of around 20 pounds of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel, the explosive mixture that gained notoriety in 1995 when bombers detonated about two tons of it, partially destroying the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

After neutralizing the individual bombs, the squad moved them to a nearby field and detonated them. Farmer was arraigned Friday on charges including unlawful use of a bomb, possession of a bomb and aggravated assault on a police officer.