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Mount Airy man accused of building bomb denied bail, mother-in-law believed to be target

Mount Airy man accused of building bomb denied bail, mother-in-law believed to be target
Mount Airy man accused of building bomb denied bail, mother-in-law believed to be target 03:18

BALTIMORE -- A judge on Thursday denied bail for a man accused of building an explosive device and parking it near a Baltimore County middle school. 

Joseph Richard Vickery, a 43-year-old man from Mount Airy, is charged with felony possession of explosive material with intent to create a destructive device, manufacture of possession of destructive device and possession of explosive material without a license and a slew of related offenses.

Judge Krystin Jane Richardson, in denying Vickery's bail said, "It is harder to think of a greater threat to public safety than someone who concocts a homemade bomb and brings it to a middle school."

Pine Grove Middle and Elementary schools were evacuated Tuesday morning after a suspicious device was spotted inside a truck. Baltimore County Police were able to neutralize the device without incident.

Prosecutors say he was on school property as an electrical contractor to address an issue with the fire safety system.

According to court documents, Vickery had researched improvised explosive devices and built one. It was made to be set off with a toy remote.

The court hearing Thursday revealed his mother-in-law's security system had been tampered with and sugar was in her gas tank. This leads prosecutors to believe she was, in fact, Joseph Vickery's target. They say the two had recently had a "falling out."    

Kristen Vickery had sent pictures to her mother of the material her husband was allegedly using to make the bomb.

Alarmed, her mother informed the Mount Airy Police during a theft investigation involving Joseph Vickery—in part because she believed Joseph Vickery was building the bomb to kill her. The two of them had recently had an argument.

"I think the daughter was contacting her out of an abundance of caution for her mother's safety because of the domestic issues," Mount Airy Police Chief Doug Reitz said Thursday. "I mean, this was a great piece of investigative work all the way around."

Chief Reitz identified Officer Neil Kleczek as the officer who investigated the threat and alerted outside authorities. "If Baltimore County didn't catch up to this person when they did, the next day, we could have been dealing with a major tragedy," Chief Reitz said. "There was an intent there to harm someone. It was pretty clear."

Investigators used Joseph Vickery's cell phone location to track him down to Baltimore County. He was arrested in the area of Pine Grove Middle School.

Additionally, court records show that Maryland State Police surveilled the Woodlawn motel where Joseph Vickery was staying and found bomb-making materials. He told officers that he had planned to detonate the bomb in a remote area.

Officers arrested his wife at the motel as well. Kristen Vickery faces drug charges.

Judge Richardson admonished her in court Thursday, saying she was concerned Kristen Vickery was "well aware" her husband was building a bomb. Prosecutors said in court Kristen's name was on Wal-Mart receipts for multiple propane tanks.

Joseph Vickery's public defender told the judge he contests a lot of the facts in the case, which will be argued at trial. Vickery has previous felonies on his record in North Carolina.

Joseph Vickery is scheduled for a preliminary hearing October 14, per judiciary records.

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