Feud over wife and child blamed for bomb murders

SPURNED by his common-law wife's family, who would not let him in their home, Michael Stevens sought revenge by killing them with parcel bombs. That way he would have his wife to himself.

This was how police yesterday reconstructed what they believe to be the motive of Mr Stevens, a 53-year-old ex-convict, who has been charged with killing five people inside 90 minutes over a wide area of northern New York state on Tuesday night. Also charged with Mr Stevens was his friend, Earl Figley, 56, who is accused of buying the dynamite that was packed into tool-boxes which were rigged to explode on opening. The addresses for the parcel bombs were hundreds of miles apart, but they were all timed to arrive on Tuesday night. The two men have also been charged with the federal crime of transporting explosives to kill or maim - for which they could face the death penalty.

The two men were described by neighbours as losers who dabbled in get-rich-quick schemes. A lawyer familiar with Mr Stevens' case said: 'He wasn't your basic slimeball. He was much smoother than that. He was a conman and he thought he was smarter than anybody else.' Mr Figley was described as an 'ordinary plain-spoken guy' who acted as Mr Stevens's gofer, fetching him beers and collecting his post.

The police said Mr Stevens was the common-law husband of Brenda Lazore, whose mother, Eleanor Fowler, stepfather and sister were killed by the parcel bombs. Her uncle was critically wounded. Two bystanders were also killed. Mr Stevens was paroled from prison in 1989 after serving 18 months for forgery.

The six bombs were sent by private courier and the US mail to four homes, an armoured-car garage where Lazore's stepfather worked, and the St Regis Indian reservation, where her uncle worked. Two other people were injured in the blasts. Two of the six bombs meant for Fowler family members were defused by the police.

The police believe the family feud began after tension between Mr Stevens, who is white, and Ms Lazore's family, who are members of the Mohawk Indian tribe, over the upbringing of the couple's two-year-old child. Apparently the family wanted to keep the child away from Mr Stevens.

The case highlighted weak federal regulations on the distribution of dynamite and other explosives which are sold over the counter by licensed dealers. Although buyers must complete forms listing their names and addresses, no background checks are made. Mr Figley is charged with buying the dynamite under an assumed name.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Artworker

£18 - 23k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Ar...

Guru Careers: Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engineer / Customer Support Exec

£16 - 18k: Guru Careers: A Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engin...

Recruitment Genius: Software Programmer / Developer

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This ambitious and friendly sof...

Recruitment Genius: Software Sales Executive - OTE £80,000

£50000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company has been ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935