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Police will never know if O.C. man deliberately blew himself up

April 17, 2013|By Joseph Serna and Lauren Williams
  • A member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad carries a small device found in the Costa Mesa house where 52-year-old Kevin Harris blew himself up.
A member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad carries… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

No one will ever know whether a Costa Mesa man who died after he blew himself up inside his home did so deliberately, police said Wednesday.

“Intentional or not, we’ll never know. Nobody was there with him,” Costa Mesa police Lt. Paul Dondero said of 52-year-old Kevin Harris’ death Sunday night. “You play with things and sometimes they go boom.”

Those “things” Dondero referred to are homemade bombs Harris is believed to have made.

Authorities who combed Harris' modest one-story home Monday said they found and detonated at least two explosive devices and later discovered a rambling 17,000-word essay attributed to Harris online that expressed a deep fear of government.

Neighbors said Harris seemed odd yet harmless, though several said they tended to quicken their pace when they passed his home, which was wrapped in aluminum foil.

The essay, titled “The Pricker: A True Story of Assassination, Terrorism and High Treason,” includes references to aliens, the O.J. Simpson trial, the U.S. government and “the pricker,” which it describes as “an assassin’s weapon that deposits biological agents into a victim’s skin, on contact, without their knowledge.”

In the essay, the author -- who identified himself as Harris -- expressed belief that the U.S. government and its allies control the flow of information to the public and assassinate dissenters through freak accidents and diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

His mother, Carol Harris, 82, said he had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, possibly schizophrenia.

She said she hadn’t seen her son in three years and that the last time they spoke he told her was disconnecting his phone because he was getting unwanted calls. She said he didn’t work and refused to let anyone enter his home.

“He was a very gentle person,” said Carol Harris, who lives outside Carson City, Nev.

Mark Harris, 57, said his brother was the youngest of five boys, and although the others were smart and high-achieving -- one is a professor, another a pharmacist -- Kevin was the smartest of them all.

“For us it’s very troubling that he ended this way,” Mark Harris said. “How he got off on his ideas on what you might call conspiracy theories ... it’s always been troubling to anybody who knows him because he’s so smart.”

On Sunday, Harris was seen lying in his frontyard. He refused medical attention when paramedics arrived.

A short time later an explosion rocked the neighborhood and police found Harris’ body in the front doorway.

“It was a pretty powerful explosion,” Costa Mesa Police Lt. Greg Scott said.

The online essay warned of dangers inside the home

“I am the only one who can get into my house,” it read. “I think it may be dangerous for you to come to my house alone.”

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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