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Man Killed, Two Injured When Package Bomb Explodes at House

Crime: Police say victim found parcel outside his residence and took it into garage and opened it. No motive or suspects are known.

August 12, 1997|GEOFF BOUCHER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WESTMINSTER — A 46-year-old Westminster man was killed late Sunday by a bomb tucked inside a package he found outside his house, according to police.

William Donald Bays died from massive chest and head injuries after opening a toaster-size package left outside the garage, authorities said.

Friends who were with Bays at the time of the explosion told investigators that the unemployed picture-frame maker found the package and took it inside the garage before opening it, according to Westminster Police Officer Robin Kapp.

"We have no motive and no suspects at this time, unfortunately," Kapp said.

The two unidentified friends who witnessed the blast suffered ear injuries but were otherwise unharmed, Kapp said. The package was not mailed or delivered by a parcel service, but it reportedly had a name on it, Kapp said.

"It was addressed, but not in the traditional mailing [format]," Kapp said. He declined to say whether it was Bay's name that appeared on the package.

A hail of metal fragments from the device tore through the cluttered garage, leaving furniture and pressboard peppered with small holes.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad was working Monday afternoon at the scene, trying to find clues in the residue and remnants of the explosive device.

"We have a couple of hundred small, bitty fragments that we're still trying to piece together," said Sgt. Charlie Stumph, a leader of the bomb squad. "We're still piecing it together, so it's too early to say much about what we have."

Stumph did say the blast was "very unique in the way it went down," with the device detonating only after the package was opened.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also participating in the investigation. They declined to comment.

Bay's four roommates at the blue-and-white home along the busy street would not speak to reporters. Several neighbors said the residents were renters who moved in earlier this year and had earned the ire of neighbors with parties and frequent visitors.

The 11:50 p.m. blast Sunday woke up residents blocks away with a deep booming sound and a concussive force that rattled windows and set dogs barking. Several neighbors called 911 to report the explosion.

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