Local News

Two Charged in Explosives Thefts

Posted March 30, 1997

— Two Hillsborough teenagers have been charged in connection with the thefts of explosives from a local mining operation, authorities said Saturday.

Adam Harding Ray, 17, of Hillsborough was arrested by local police and federal agents, and charged with breaking into Piedmont Minerals Company near downtown Hillsborough in December and again in March.

Cameron W. Johnson, 17,was charged with the March break-in and theft.

Police Sgt. Bruce Gordon said investigators recovered two bags of an ammonium nitrate-fuel oil mixture - similar to the material used in the Oklahoma City bombing - and more than three cases of blasting caps.

Initially, authorities had feared the thefts might have been connected to extremist groups, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has discounted that possibility.

"We don't see any indication that this was planned and executed by any particular group," said ATF agent Mark Logan. Hillsborough police believe the thefts were motivated by financial gain, and that Ray may have sold some of the blasting caps.

Ray remains in custody in the Orange County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 secured bond. Johnson was released into his father's custody, and is scheduled for a court appearance Monday.

Investigators say they found one bag of the ammonium nitrate mixture and many of the blasting caps under Ray's home; the other bag of nitrate and two cases of blasting caps were recovered from an abandoned car in Orange County. Some blasting caps and several dynamite sticks are still missing, although a few of the caps had been exploded near the Ray home.

Explosives experts from the State Bureau of Investigation took charge of the recovered materials.

Ray was identified as a suspect when he was seen in a town park near the mining company. Authorities said he led them to Johnson.

Federal agents continue to search for 350 pounds of dynamite stolen from Asheville's Austin Powder Company late last year. They do not believe the Asheville and Hillsborough thefts were related. Rewards total $10,000 for information in the Austin Powder theft. If you have information, call the BATF at 888-283-8477 (ATF-TIPS).

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