PITTSBURGH – A teenager tried to kill five family members by placing homemade chemical bottle bombs near their heads while they slept, police said.
Christopher Janney, 16, of South Fayette, was charged with attempted homicide for leaving what police described as "chlorine compression bombs" near the family members. The bottles did not explode and no one was injured.
Janney had also been using a peppermill to grind up rat poison, according to a criminal complaint.
The one-page complaint spelled out some details of what family members told police, but did not explain Janney's purported motive or whether he tried to use the rat poison on his family. Police also didn't explain specifically how the bombs were assembled or what kind of injuries they were capable of causing.
"It's an open investigation. We don't want to jeopardize what we're doing," South Fayette Chief Louis Volle said Tuesday. "We've got a lot of unanswered questions."
Family members said the teen had been found with bottles of rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol can be combined with chlorine in bottle bombs and recipes for such devices, which typically explode without flames but with loud force, can be found on the Internet.
At Janney's home about 10 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, police recovered a computer and cell phone and retrieved text messages and e-mail in which he discussed the plan with others, according to the complaint. They also recovered a chemical gas mask.
Janney e-mailed and texted at least one other person asking how to mix chemicals and wrote, "I went through with my plan," the complaint said.
Janney and an accomplice planned leave town afterward by bus, the complaint said. Another person told police he picked up Janney on Saturday morning and took him to a nearby gas station. Janney was arrested Sunday, but Volle wouldn't say where or how.
Police were alerted to the plot Saturday morning, when Janney's mother, Bonnie Janney, reported him missing. The mother told police that she left her son sleeping on the living room couch about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, but that he was gone when she checked on him at 3 a.m.
Janney had gotten into a scuffle with his grandfather who lives next door, apparently sometime Saturday morning, in which his grandfather took away a sack containing bottles of rubbing alcohol, according to the complaint. The teen was last seen running from his grandfather's house, but the complaint doesn't say when that was.
Janney is charged with five counts each of attempted homicide and one count each of reckless endangerment and criminal conspiracy.
It wasn't clear if Janney had an attorney. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh at which he could either present a defense attorney or have one assigned to him by a judge.
A message left at the boy's home was not immediately returned.