A 32-year-old man has been charged with transporting an explosive device in a plot to murder the partner of a woman he liked.
According to an release of the United States Department of Justice, Clayton Alexander McCoy of Chesterland, Ohio, pleaded guilty to building a bomb in Ohio and then driving it to Maryland, where he intended to detonate it.
He placed the device in a white gift box and tied it with a red ribbon to make it look like a present, officials said. The bomb had been manipulated to go off as soon as the package was opened.
Although the case was not fatal, prosecutors said the victim still has multiple shrapnel embedded in his body two years after the attack.
The guilty plea was announced Wednesday by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron, along with investigators in the case, including multiple agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Clayton Alexander McCoy was arrested in 2020 after building a bomb at his Ohio home and then driving more than 300 miles to Manchester, Maryland, where the victim lived
McCoy had come to know the victim through his hobby, where individuals dress up in medieval clothing and live-action role-play battles
This is the house McCoy drove his make-shift bomb to in Manchester, Maryland
Authorities said McCoy had made progress with the woman he met through his hobby as medieval combat role-playing games.
In October 2020, the man confessed his feelings to the victim, whose name has not been released.
She told him she was in a committed relationship and not romantically interested in him, DOJ officials said.
The woman later told police that she was planning a camping trip with McCoy before confessing his affection. The trip was later cancelled.
Although McCoy knew the woman he had feelings for better, he had also known the man for “a number of years” through the role-play group.
McCoy, pictured, participates in Dagorhir role-playing game that uses foam weapons to participate in medieval battles
Clayton Alexander McCoy, 30, is pictured in medieval chainmail and armor to participate in Dagorhir’s role-playing game
After she rejected him, the Ohio man decided he would kill the competition, paving the way for him to begin a relationship with the woman.
McCoy researched the materials needed to build the explosive, then paid cash at a large number of stores, failing to point out his intentions to authorities.
He made shrapnel by cutting up small pieces of metal with an angle grinder and then inserting them into the metal pipe “to increase lethality.”
Using his mother’s truck, McCoy drove over 300 miles and made the six-hour journey to Maryland to deliver his handmade detonator.
He delivered the package to the address of Carroll County, Maryland, on October 30, 2020, in a larger box with a shipping label and no return address.
A truck belonging to McCoy’s mother was captured on a Nest camera near the house he allegedly bombed
A sign indicates the building is unsafe after the pipe bomb went off at a Maryland home. The house was uninhabitable for months and the bomb caused nearly $50K in damage
A truck belonging to McCoy’s mother was pinged en route from Ohio to the home in Maryland and authorities claimed he planned the route to avoid toll booths
The bomb was dropped on the porch just before 8:30 a.m. and brought in by the victim’s grandfather. When the victim arrived at the house later in the day, he opened it and discovered the smaller package inside.
Before unpacking the white box, the man texted his girlfriend to ask if she had sent him anything. He took the boxes to his room to open it privately.
The bomb exploded on opening, as McCoy intended, officials said.
The victim was hit by the shrapnel and suffered injuries to ‘his chest, legs and front of his body’ and was taken to hospital for his injuries.
The victim’s grandmother spoke to KCTV after the explosion and told the news channel that her grandson had been “mutilated” by the bomb and that she felt the explosion from different rooms.
“I’m in the kitchen, I hear an explosion and I hear my grandson screaming,” she recalls.
The woman did not want to be identified during the 2020 interview.
She added: ‘Have you ever been hit on the back of the head and pushed forward so fast that your glasses fly off? That’s what it felt like in the kitchen, which is three walls from his room.’
The explosion was so strong that when opening the package, the victim caused serious injuries, which remain to this day.
After two weeks, the man was released from hospital after numerous surgeries to remove the shrapnel and repair the damage to his hand.
He also had to use a walker for several weeks after the incident due to the severity of his injuries.
The damage to the home cost an estimated $46,000 in damage and rendered the home “uninhabitable” for months. The victim and his grandparents had to live elsewhere while repairs were being made.
Police and EMS respond to the scene where the victim was injured by a pipe bomb left in a house he shared with his grandparents
The Maryland home was badly damaged by the bomb explosion. The victim and his grandparents had to find shelter elsewhere for several months
After the incident, the victim’s girlfriend, identified as “SB,” was interviewed and asked if she had any idea who might have done it. She told the officers that she had known McCoy through the role-play group for several years.
The members of the Dagorhir group met online before meeting in person to reenact elaborate medieval scenes and battles.
Further investigation into the Dagorhir group revealed that McCoy often communicated with the victim and his girlfriend through an online chat service called Discord.
In March 2021, investigators searched the McCoy’s Chesterland, Ohio home and found items, including explosive powder, inside the residence.
The Ohio man initially admitted to knowing the victim, but denied knowing where he lived.
At one point, while speaking to investigators, McCoy offered another person from the live-action role-playing group as a possible suspect.
McCoy told officers that the man he pointed the finger at “didn’t like” the victim.
However, police were able to trace McCoy’s phone from his Ohio home to the victim’s address.
The man used a specially designated route to avoid tolls.
It was only after police showed McCoy maps of his movements that he admitted to making and delivering the bomb.
McCoy faces up to 20 years in prison for transporting explosives with intent to injure and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device.
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