Last month, an explosion in a Beaver Dam, Wisconsin apartment building killed a 28-year-old resident named Benjamin Morrow.
That one was an accident, authorities believe, and Morrow's fellow residents are lucky no one else was hurt or killed in the blast. Others may have been lucky it happened when it did: A recently unsealed search warrant revealed Morrow's apartment contained "white supremacist literature," plus guns, thousands of bullets, and a "homemade explosives laboratory," according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.
Morrow was putting that lab to use to create what looked like "finished explosives," and his apartment also contained how-to instructions on setting timers. He was also very prepared for a violent interaction of some kind.
From the Reporter story:
"Agents also recovered at least three long guns, two handguns, more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, a ballistic helmet and vest, and masks from his apartment, the warrant says."
Authorities and the warrant offered few details about the racist material in Morrow's possession, though its discovery led FBI agents to also search his computer and other communications devices for clues about any plots Morrow -- or would-be accomplices -- might have had in mind.
After the March 5 explosion, which occurred while Morrow was in his kitchen with the stove on, other residents of the complex were moved out for their safety. Explosives experts searched the premises and extracted some valuables belonging to other tenants, then made the decision to burn the entire building to the ground, citing safety concerns involved with trying to remove chemicals still in Morrow's apartment.
Morrow worked as a scientist at Richelieu Foods, a Massachusetts-based company that produces frozen pizzas and salad dressings for grocery chains like Hy-Vee and Sam's Club. Morrow had worked for Richelieu since June, according to a Linkedin page, and was previously employed at PPD, a pharmaceutical research company headquartered in North Carolina. Morrow held assistant and associate scientist positions with PPD during a tenure that lasted just over three years.
Per Linkedin, Morrow graduated in 2013 from Pensacola Christian College in Florida, a strict institution where students are taught to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible's creation story in the Book of Genesis, and where physical contact with members of the opposite sex is prohibited, unless the two students are married. ("Homosexual behavior," pornorgraphy, and "most forms of dancing" are also not allowed.)
Morrow's co-workers at Richelieu told investigators he sometimes came to work "smelling like mothballs," the Reporter says, which may have been an effort to mask the smell of the chemicals he was working with in his apartment.
As of late last week, no other search warrants had been issued, and no charges were known to be forthcoming. So far, the only person suspected of any potentially criminal behavior is dead by his own hand.
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