Warrants: Bomb maker killed in apartment explosion had white supremacist bent

A Wisconsin man who accidentally blew himself up in his apartment last month -- requiring authorities to later burn down the entire building -- had a homemade bomb lab, explosive chemicals, guns and ammunition on hand, according to unsealed search warrants in the case.

Benjamin D. Morrow, 28, also had white supremacist literature in his Beaver Dam apartment, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter. Search warrants made public Thursday gave a glimpse into the life of the food company quality control technician, who had a background in chemistry.

Morrow's body was found in front of his stove following the March 5 explosion at the Village Glen Apartments, the Reporter said. A burner on the stove was still on when his body was found.

Investigators found finished explosives in Morrow’s unit, as well as bomb-making chemicals, timers, gunpowder and instructions on how to make explosives, the newspaper reported. Morrow also had three long guns, two handguns, a ballistic helmet and vest, masks and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition.

WISN in Milwaukee reported that the finished explosives were in the form of TATP, a highly volatile compound that can be made using fairly available materials. The explosives are sometimes referred to as "Mother of Satan" bombs.

Firefighters stand atop a truck while watching flames burn a building at the Village Glen Apartments in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, Thursday, March 15, 2018. The fire was set to destroy hazardous chemicals in a building where Benjamin Morrow accidentally blew himself up 10 days earlier in his apartment. Morrow had finished explosives, the chemicals to make bombs, guns, ammunition and white supremacist literature in his apartment, according to search warrants.

Credit: Mark McMullen/The Daily Citizen via AP

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Credit: Mark McMullen/The Daily Citizen via AP

According to the Guardian, TATP bombs were used in the terrorist attacks at the May 2017 Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, the March 2016 attack in Brussels and the November 2015 attack in Paris.

The TATP was found in 13 jars in Morrow's refrigerator, WISN reported. Containers labeled "TATP" were also found in his garage.

Agents with the Wisconsin Department of Justice searched Morrow's computers and other electronics for evidence of conspiracy after finding white supremacist literature amid the rubble of his home. No evidence was found to show that Morrow was working in concert with others to make and use bombs, but the investigation remains open, the Reporter said.

The explosives found in Morrow’s apartment were so volatile that even jostling them could have set off additional explosions. A controlled detonation was conducted two days after the fatal explosion to get rid of all remaining chemicals, but another smaller explosion occurred the next day.

Federal, state and local officials on the case were forced to burn the 16-unit apartment building to the ground, the Reporter said. FBI bomb technicians swept the building for any ammunition or other hazardous materials in other apartments.

They were also able to retrieve personal papers, family heirlooms, money and jewelry belonging to the approximately 30 residents who were displaced by the decision.

"It was one of the most heart-wrenching things that I have been involved in," Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg told the Record.

Morrow's online obituary described him as a devout Baptist who "accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour at the age of four-and-a-half." He was homeschooled through high school and graduated from Pensacola Christian College in 2013.

While there, he earned a pre-pharmacy degree, with minors in chemistry and math, the obituary read.

He was an associate scientist at Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) Inc.’s Middleton location for more than three years prior to his job with Richelieu Foods in Beaver Dam, where he worked for 10 months before he died.

The Reporter said that the search warrants indicated his coworkers at the food company told investigators Morrow often arrived smelling of moth balls. Agents said the moth balls could have been a way to cover up the odor of the chemicals he worked with at home.