A Mount Airy couple who were arrested after police found and destroyed an improvised explosive device at a middle school earlier this week were denied bail on Thursday in Baltimore County District Court.
Joseph Richard Vickery, 43, faces eight charges that include manufacturing a destructive device capable of injuring people or damaging property, keeping an illegally obtained loaded handgun in a vehicle; and drug possession with intent to distribute, according to court records.
Kristen Lee Vickery, 39, was charged with drug possession. Both were denied bail by District Court Judge Krystin Richardson.
Joseph Vickery was arrested Tuesday by Baltimore County police in the parking lot of a Parkville-area school. His improvised explosive device used a paper tube, a remote controlled car and common household items, according to charging documents filed by police in court.
The chain of events leading to the arrests started Monday while Mount Airy police followed up with a woman who had reported her belongings were stolen by Joseph Vickery. Mount Airy Police Chief Doug Reitz said officers received a tip that Joseph Vickery was building a bomb.
Mount Airy police alerted the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives around noon Monday after reviewing the photos that seemed to show the suspect manufacturing fertilizer and other materials into an explosive device, Reitz said.
According to charging documents, a woman named Kimberly, whose last name is redacted, received a text from her daughter, Kristen, whose last name was also redacted. Kristen said she saw Joseph Vickery looking up how to make “flash bang, bombs.” She said he has a gun and a crossbow and bought more.
The texts contained pictures of a stainless steel pot on a portable electric hot plate that held a cloudy liquid with blue particles floating in it. She also sent a picture of Joseph Vickery carrying a plastic bucket in a hotel room and a picture of a bag of fertilizer.
Kimberly told Mount Airy police that she believed she was Joseph Vickery’s target. Her daughter and Joseph Vickery were living in hotels in Columbia, she said to police. Mount Airy forwarded the information to the FBI, Howard County Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Police obtained an “emergency ping” on Joseph Vickery’s mobile phone, which showed he was at the Rodeway Inn in Woodlawn, documents state.
Police watched Joseph Vickery’s black Ford F-150 Monday night and decided not to attempt to make contact since it was late and because he was armed. When police went back to the hotel the next morning, Joseph Vickery’s car was gone. But police saw Kristen Vickery taking out trash. Police took the trash when Kristen Vickery returned to her room and searched it at the precinct.
They found receipts with purchases that include two propane tanks, a coffee grinder, adhesive, a caulk gun, cotton swabs, a hot plate and a radio-controlled car. Police also found rubber gloves, a piece of copper wire and six instant cold packs.
Police determined the items would be used to make an explosive device. They pinged Joseph’s phone once again and that showed it was located at the Pine Grove Middle School parking lot. Joseph Vickery was arrested near the school at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to police.
“Joseph Vickery advised officers that there was an explosive device inside of his vehicle,” the document stated.
Police found a potential improvised destructive device on the passenger floorboard of Joseph Vickery’s car and determined it was safe. Next to the device was a remote-controlled toy car with the word “transmitter” on it.
The team conducted tests to identify “explosive precursor chemicals” that were inside the improvised explosive device.
Kristen Vickery was arrested at the Rodeway Inn shortly after for an outstanding violation of probation warrant in Carroll County.
A bomb technician determined that items found in the trash, including the ammonium nitrate found in the instant cold packs and the fertilizer, are commonly used to make homemade explosives.
Joseph Vickery admitted to making an explosive later that day. And he said he did not intend to harm anyone with the device but to detonate it in a remote area.
During Joseph Vickery’s hearing, a public defender requested “some form of release.” The judge disagreed. She said it’s “harder to think of a greater threat to public safety than someone who concocts a homemade bomb and brings it to a middle school.”
Court records state the bomb in Joseph Vickery’s car was a “test to see if his homemade device — which could be activated by a remote-control toy car — would work. And it did. But it wasn’t meant for the school, records state, but for his wife’s mother.
Baltimore County police said Tuesday that students were rushed to safety after they discovered the “suspicious package” that morning — the device was described by other law enforcement agencies as a homemade bomb. Students at Pine Grove middle and elementary schools were evacuated to nearby high schools.
County police took a “proactive controlled measure” to deactivate the device, according to the department’s Twitter. The source said the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on the scene.
Baltimore Banner reporters Justin Fenton and Liz Bowie contributed to this report.