Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Genius Bomber: The Mormon Forgery Murders

Investigation

The investigators soon learned that the office on the floor where the bomb had been placed was rented by Rigby-Christensen, Inc., a partnership consulting company, and that Steve Christensen, one of the partners, had been spotted in the building that morning.

They found someone in the building who knew him, but the man had a hard time identifying the victim because of all the soot and disfigurement on the face.   However, he confirmed that the hair color and body build were right.

By 1:30, the medical examiner had gone over the body and had it removed.   They could now look at the wallet, and indeed, it proved to belong to Christensen.

Steven Christensen
Steven Christensen

That left the scene free for painstaking analysis with adhesive rollers, tweezers, screens, hand shovels, rakes and vacuums with special filters. 

To determine a bombs size, investigators analyze the color of the flash (if possible from witnesses), the placement of the soot, the smell in the air afterward (possibly collected and processed with a vapor device), the type of damage done, and the extent and direction of flying debris, as well as its speed.   Approximately 95% of a bomb can be collected, since most does not vaporize, and there is always the hope that some piece may retain a fingerprint, tool mark or the manufacturers label.

The bomb pieces are generally jagged and covered with soot.   The way to pick them up is with a magnifying glass and pair of tweezers, and sometimes with a sifting screen.  In this case, each part was placed into a plastic bag or a vial, and by the time the job was done hours later, they had catalogued 164 pieces of evidence.  It would not take long to put together the bomb used.  They had found a mercury switch, many two-and-a-half-inch carpenter nails, and a rocket igniter.  The nails had been driven into a lot of different directions and had to be pulled from the floor, ceiling, and wallseven the sub-flooring.  Pieces of paper that had wrapped the package were also collected to piece together a label.

Bomb fragments re-assembled after collection by investigators

Once everything was collected, the detective cut away pieces of the carpet and collected residue from the bomb for lab analysis.   When the technicians had collected all of the pieces that could be seen, a vacuum was used to pick up anything remaining.

The blast had been centered just inside the doorway of office 609.

To try to understand who might have done this and why, they also took a computer and numerous files from the office that appeared to have been the bombers target.   It couldnt be ruled out that the victim himself was the bomber, since sometimes bombers get caught by their own devices or use the bomb for suicide.  It would depend on the persons injuries, and that was for the medical examiner to analyze.

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