Suspect accused of putting explosive in luggage at Pennsylvania airport appears in court
A Pennsylvania man is in custody after an explosive was allegedly found in his checked luggage at Lehigh Valley International Airport on Monday, court documents show. Marc Muffley, 40, was taken into custody by the FBI later that night.
During court proceedings on Thursday, Judge Pamela Carlos ruled there was sufficient probable cause for the case to proceed. Muffley was to be kept in custody until further trial proceedings, the court decided.
Muffley, whose attorney said is a construction worker with past misdemeanor arrests, appeared in a virtual hearing from jail, wearing a blue prison uniform.
During routine screening by Transportation Security Administration agents, Muffley's bag set off an alarm indicating it contained suspicious items, according to a criminal complaint. TSA personnel found a "circular compound, approximately three inches in diameter, wrapped in a wax-like paper and clear plastic wrap hidden in the lining of the baggage," the complaint said.
The "immediate area" of the airport where the device was found was then evacuated "out of an abundance of caution," TSA said in a statement.
The FBI was then contacted and an explosives expert found that the cylinder was filled with flash powder and a type of powder "consistent with a commercial grade firework." The device also appeared to have had a "hobby fuse" — a type of fuse that burns slower than a "quick fuse" — added on, the complaint alleges.
An FBI agent determined that the powders were "susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers."
A can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries and two taped-together ground fault circuit interrupter outlets were also found in the luggage, the complaint said.
Muffley was booked to fly to Orlando, but never boarded the flight, the complaint said. Security footage showed him leaving the airport shortly after he was paged on the airport's PA system, according to the complaint. His girlfriend dropped him and the luggage off at the airport, prosecutor Sherri Stephan said in court. After hearing his name called, Muffley called her to pick him back up and left, Stephan said.
The FBI arrested Muffley at his home in Lansford, Pennsylvania.
—Pat Milton and Robert Legare contributed reporting.
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