The case started because of a dispute over a child neglect case, federal agents say.
It evolved into a midnight bombing two weeks ago that blew the front door off a Suisun City home and led to attempted murder charges against two men.
Documents filed Thursday in federal court in Sacramento lay out the alleged conspiracy involving Thomas Wayne Capenhurst, a 33-year-old Dixon man who allegedly had a beef with his sister-in-law.
According to an affidavit filed by an agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Christina Capenhurst said her brother in law was upset at her for “snitching on him” in a Benicia police investigation into a child abuse or neglect case involving his 14-year-old daughter.
So, the affidavit says, Capenhurst decided to blow up his older brother’s home.
Suisun City police first learned of the dispute just after midnight Feb. 17, when they were dispatched to the 1000 block of Blue Jay Drive to investigate reports of a loud explosion.
When an officer arrived, “he saw that the front door had been blown off its hinges and was lying inside the entryway to the home,” the affidavit says.
There were burn marks on the porch, broken windows and shrapnel in the walls, the affidavit says.
The occupants of the rental home, David and Christina Capenhurst, told police they had arrived from a trip to the Bay Area 15 minutes before the explosion and that three children were watching television in a bedroom when the bomb went off.
The couple told investigators that the only person who might want to harm them was Thomas Capenhurst, the affidavit says.
Investigators determined the blast was caused by a 10-inch long pipe bomb, and the next day retrieved video footage from the home’s security system.
That footage showed someone in the front yard with their face covered, then showed the person “sprinting away from the house,” the affidavit says.
“The cameras are jolted and debris appears to be falling around in front of the house,” the affidavit says. “A billow of light colored smoke is also visible in front of the house.”
An anonymous phone call to authorities led agents to a home in Fairfield in search of Robert Lee McGraw, a 20-year-old man who worked for Thomas Capenhurst at his Benicia towing yard, court papers say.
Officers found two pipe bombs, two shotguns and an AR-15 style rifle, and subsequently questioned McGraw, who told them Capenhurst offered to pay him “a couple thousand dollars” if he would detonate all three pipe bombs to “try to knock down the house,” the affidavit says.
McGraw said he went to the house the night of the explosion and could hear someone talking inside and hesitated, the affidavit says.
Then, he placed the largest of the three pipe bombs on the porch, lit the fuse with a lighter and “ran away so he would not blow himself up,” the affidavit says.
Authorities later found Thomas Capenhurst on Highway 37 in Solano County and arrested him on charges of attempted murder, court papers say. McGraw was charged with the same counts, as well as use of an explosive device with intent to injure.
Both men, who remain in custody, also face federal charges of malicious use of explosive materials and use of a destructive device in a federal crime involving violence.
McGraw told authorities he had not yet been paid for his services, but that Capenhurst told him before the arrests, “I’ll get you paid up.”