Ala. bombing probe leads to search in St. Michaels

April 18, 1996|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

EASTON -- Federal agents investigating an Alabama bombing that injured an Episcopal priest searched a house in St. Michaels and took away possible evidence for laboratory analysis, authorities said yesterday.

The house at 223 North St. was vacant when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms searched it April 3, said James Cavanaugh, ATF special agent in charge of the Birmingham, Ala., office.

The search was part of an investigation into a bombing that injured the Rev. Michael D. Schnatterly at his home in Opelika, Ala. Mr. Schnatterly was injured Jan. 1 when he picked up a U-Haul box from the trunk of his car and it exploded.

Mr. Schnatterly, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Opelika, was a curate at Christ Church in St. Michaels from 1989 until 1992.

"We recovered some things there that we are looking at closely to see if they're of evidentiary value," Mr. Cavanaugh said of the April 3 search. "We're still following a lot of leads on the Shore."

He said that some of the 350 or so leads agents have tTC investigated have come from other states, including Alabama.

The search of the St. Michaels house was one of several trips ATF agents have made recently to Talbot County.

A month ago, ATF agents began investigating a possible connection between the bombing and a federally funded jobs program housed on the Chesapeake College campus.

Officials said that a piece of paper found at the Alabama bombing site bore a telephone number that might be linked to the jobs program.

Mr. Cavanaugh would not specify what items were taken from the house.

The house is in foreclosure. Court files concerning the case were not available at the courthouse yesterday.

Mr. Cavanaugh declined to say whether ATF agents had identified a suspect in the bombing.

"No arrests are imminent," Mr. Cavanaugh said. "The investigation is in that steadfast stage. It's not a hurry-up kind of case. We're trying to follow these leads, one by one."

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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