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Manhunt Widens in Reno Bomb Threat

July 02, 1985|ERIC MALNIC | Times Staff Writer

Law enforcement officers throughout the West expanded their search Monday for a Southern California man with a long arrest record who is suspected of planting a pipe bomb at Nevada's Reno-Cannon International Airport.

The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for Roger Dale Stockham, 38, who, agents said, has used several false names in the past, including "Roger Hemaredin," a name similar to one given to a newspaper in Reno by a caller claiming responsibility for the bomb.

Sound of Ticking

The explosive device--described by police as potentially lethal--was found Thursday in a trash can outside the airport by a janitor who heard it ticking. About 200 people were evacuated from the terminal before disposal experts neutralized the bomb.

Stockham has been treated several times for mental illness. In 1981, he escaped from Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, but was captured by police and reincarcerated. In July, 1982, a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge ordered Stockham released on probation after a deputy district attorney said he should be freed because "he hasn't done anything crazy lately."

Stockham first made news in 1977, when he held a psychiatrist hostage in a Century City office building, using two bombs and a pistol. After more than four hours, he released the psychiatrist unharmed and surrendered to police.

Two years later, after continued treatment for mental problems, Stockham reportedly kidnaped his son from a foster home in Santa Barbara, rented a light plane and flew to Los Angeles International Airport, where he contacted the control tower, reported that he had "a bomb, a pistol and a 9-year-old boy" on board and demanded a jetliner to fly him to Iran.

Crash Near Home

Abandoning that effort after the FBI joined in the radio conversations, Stockham took off once more in the light plane and headed south. Moments later, the aircraft crashed in a canyon about a mile from Stockham's home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Emerging from the wreckage unharmed, Stockham and the boy were discovered by sheriff's deputies. Stockham was arrested.

Released on $5,000 bail, Stockham was arrested a month later in connection with an arson fire that destroyed one Union Oil Co. oil storage tank near Point Conception and damaged another. Sheriff's deputies said they found him hiding with a cache of stolen weapons and gunpowder believed used to start the fire.

Stockham was found guilty of felony child stealing in connection with the abduction of his son, but was declared innocent by reason of insanity on charges of setting the fire.

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