Sealed documents released in Spokane MLK bomb case
Newly released documents show the FBI did not have an informant who identified the person who planted a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane.
SPOKANE — Newly released documents show the FBI did not have an informant who identified the person who planted a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane.
Instead, the agency relied primarily on evidence obtained through examination of the bomb to arrest Kevin Harpham, 37, of Addy, for the crime.
Hundreds of documents that had been sealed in the hate crime were released by a federal judge late Tuesday.
Those documents include an affidavit by FBI agent John T. Slack that laid out how investigators identified Harpham as the suspect after someone placed the bomb in downtown Spokane on Jan. 17.
The backpack bomb contained 128 fishing weights that had been coated with an anticoagulant called brodifacoum. It is used in some rodent poisons and can inhibit blood clotting in wounds.
Black powder would have been triggered by a remote car starter, and the fishing weights would have been expelled as shrapnel into the marchers, Slack said.
But parade workers found the bomb by about 9:30 a.m., and it was detonated by the Spokane County sheriff's bomb squad before it could explode. There were no injuries.
The backpack also contained Caucasian body hair and the DNA of several people, including Harpham, court documents said.
Agents were able to obtain a sample of Harpham's DNA from the Armed Forces Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains because he had served in the U.S. Army, the documents said.
Investigators were also able to confirm that numerous components of the bomb were purchased at stores in the Colville area, and they concentrated their search there. Colville is about an hour north of Spokane.
It turned out the fishing weights were purchased at a Wal-Mart store in Colville as part of shopping trips that also included purchase of marshmallow creme, milk and a food chopper, the documents said. The purchase was made with a bank card the FBI learned had been issued to Harpham.
Agents also determined that other fishing-related items had not been purchased by Harpham, and that he had not held a fishing license since 2007, the documents showed.
Investigators also found that other bomb components had been purchased at a Big R store in Colville and the Colville Hardware Do It Center.
Meanwhile, other agents were learning that Harpham was making numerous postings on the white supremacist website Vanguard News Network under the name "Joe Snuffy." Those postings showed a streak of racism and anti-Semitism.
"The whites that live through this Jewish virus that is coming to a head will be much healthier than the herd of the past," one posting said.
After his March 9 arrest, Harpham pleaded guilty in September to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and the hate crime of placing the bomb in an effort to target minorities. He faces 27 to 32 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 30.
Harpham told U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush that it took him about a month to build the bomb. He acknowledged placing the device along the parade route in an attempt to commit a hate crime.
The annual parade drew a crowd of about 2,000 adults and children on a cold winter morning and was forced onto an alternative route after the bomb was found. Harpham walked in the parade and took pictures of young black children and of a Jewish man who was wearing a yarmulke, prosecutors have said.
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