Ohio man charged for allegedly bombing home of 'romantic rival' in Maryland

Authorities say trio met during live-action role-playing game
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Posted at 1:07 PM, Mar 11, 2021

MANCHESTER, Md. — An Ohio man is facing federal charges in connection with a 2020 explosion at a home in Maryland, where authorities say the intended victim was a "romantic rival."

The suspect, 30-year-old Clayton Alexander McCoy of Chesterland, is charged with transporting explosives with intent to injure and with using, carrying or possessing a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to the Department of Justice.

The incident occurred on Oct. 30 in Manchester, Maryland. A 28-year-old man was injured in the explosion.

Authorities say that a package was left on his porch around 8:30 a.m. A family member brought the package inside. The intended victim had already left home for the day, so the package sat in the house with family members for hours. When the man returned around 5:30 p.m., he took the package and went into his bedroom, where he opened it.

Inside the package was a small white box with a ribbon. The smaller box also had a nail sticking out of it. When the victim pulled the nail out, he heard a hissing sound from the box, which exploded a moment later, authorities said.

Shrapnel hit the victim in the chest and legs and other parts of his body. He was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and released several weeks later, authorities said. Family members say the man has to undergo rehabilitation for the injuries.

Law enforcement said they believe the device to have been a pipe bomb with shrapnel inside.

Authorities said they discovered that on the day of the explosion, McCoy allegedly used a device at his home to search for the victim’s address. McCoy’s phone was later tracked to the victim’s home. A neighbor with a security camera captured a truck on video arriving at the victim’s house. Authorities said the truck matched a description of a vehicle that belonged to the suspect’s mother. The suspect also conducted a web search for the fuel tank capacity of a 1994 Toyota truck, which is the same model as his mother’s vehicle.

At first, authorities said a motive for the attack wasn't clear. A $5,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest.

It was later learned that McCoy, the victim and the victim’s girlfriend, were acquainted through a live-action role-playing game called Dagorhir that involves live melee and ranged combat with foam swords and armor. At some point prior to the incident, the suspect told the victim’s girlfriend that he had feelings for her. The victim’s girlfriend rejected the advance, and authorities said the two agreed to remain friends, authorities said.

Law enforcement said it appears the bomb was intended to "injure a romantic rival."

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, McCoy has a prior criminal history. On May 16, 2013, he was sentenced in Geauga County to four years in prison for pandering obscenity involving a minor. He was also placed on the Ohio Sex Offender Registry.

McCoy faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison with a maximum penalty of life in prison on the charge of using, carrying, or possessing a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence. He also faces up to a maximum of 20 years in prison for transporting explosives with intent to injure.

This story was originally published by Drew Scofield at WEWS.