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An Ohio man has admitted to delivering a bomb out of state to his perceived romantic rival’s doorstep, resulting in serious injury to both the victim and his home.
Clayton Alexander McCoy, 32, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of transporting explosives with the intent to injure and possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device stemming from a 2020 explosion, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. He now faces up to 30 years in federal prison.
McCoy admitted he expressed romantic interest in a long-time female friend but, when the woman rebuffed his advances, he plotted to kill her boyfriend, who was only listed in the federal complaint as “Victim 1.”
According to a federal criminal complaint, the trio became acquainted through playing Dagorhir, a live-action role-playing game where participants meet at in-person events to reenact medieval- and fantasy-themed battles. Per the criminal complaint, McCoy and the woman knew one another for about seven years.
In October 2020, McCoy confessed his romantic feelings to her, but the woman explained that she didn't share them and reminded him that she was already in a relationship with the victim. Per the affidavit, she and McCoy agreed to remain friends.
“Following his rejection by Victim 1’s girlfriend, McCoy devised a plan to build and deliver a bomb to Victim 1’s house with the intent to kill the victim and remove him as a romantic rival,” stated federal authorities.
So as not to draw attention to his plan, McCoy purchased the bomb-making materials using cash and bought everything piecemeal from various stores. McCoy then obtained explosive powder and created a pipe bomb consisting of shrapnel made of BB pellets and scrap metal pieces he cut into small triangle shapes.
McCoy made a test bomb and successfully detonated it in his yard before making one with which to injure the victim.
Feds say McCoy placed the bomb in a white gift box wrapped with a red ribbon bow and “armed the firing mechanism” so that the bomb would explode upon opening.
The defendant admitted that, on Oct. 30, 2020, he placed the gift box into a second parcel without a return address, stored it in the back of his pickup truck, and then drove seven hours to the victim’s residence in Manchester, Maryland — about 30 miles north of Baltimore, near the Pennsylvania border — where the victim lived with his grandparents. McCoy left the package bomb on the victim’s doorstep shortly before 8:30 a.m.
Victim 1’s grandfather brought the package into the house, where it stayed on the kitchen counter until Victim 1 returned home at around 5:30 p.m. After taking the delivery upstairs, he opened the gift box, which then exploded.
“Victim 1 heard a whistling or hissing sound followed by the explosion,” according to the feds. “The victim was struck in the front of his body by shrapnel and sustained injuries to his chest, legs and front of his body.”
He spent several weeks in the hospital before being released on Nov. 19, 2020. He relied on the temporary use of a walker and underwent several surgeries, including hand surgery and procedures to remove shrapnel from his body.
Not only did the bomb cause physical injuries to the victim, it also resulted in about $46,700 in damage to the Maryland home. The victim and his grandparents were forced to relocate until the home repairs were complete in March 2021. The bomb also cost the insurance company an additional $70,061.26, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
McCoy’s crush pointed authorities in his direction, according to the affidavit.
McCoy initially told authorities that he'd heard about the bombing but believed another game participant from their social circle could have committed the crime, according to federal officials. Investigators ultimately extracted data from McCoy’s cell phone, showing McCoy driving to and from Maryland on the day of the explosion.
The vehicle McCoy was driving, believed to belong to his mother, was also captured on a security camera by one of the victim’s neighbors.
When confronted with the evidence, McCoy confessed to the crimes.
He now faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the charge of transporting explosives with the intent to injure and an additional 10 years for possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive.
A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
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