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Explosives found in Newell

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Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

When Southwest Regional Police officers went to a home in Newell on Monday, they were looking for two stolen guns.

Instead, police uncovered explosives, setting off an investigation of a completely different type.

The discoveries were made at the 102 Miller St. home of Jeff Wilson, who was not there.

Police attempted to contact Wilson, but he did not respond, Hartman said. As of Monday, Wilson had not been charged in the explosives case.

Police found “military and industrial explosives” in a back room of the basement, along with other “evidence of interest,” Southwest Regional Chief John Hartman said.

Police went to Wilson's residence in search of the guns as a part of an investigation into a burglary ring that struck several homes in Newell over a five-month period.

A burglary reported Oct. 11 at a residence at 206 Long St. provided a break in that case.

Last month, Mark Anthony Burnett, 18, of 409 Miller St., Newell, and Michael Sawyer, 21, of 922 Evan St., Jeannette, were each charged with three counts of burglary, criminal conspiracy aiding, theft by unlawful taking-movable property, and receiving stolen property.

Matthew Von Kerik, 21, of 136 Fourth St., Newell, was charged with two counts each of burglary, criminal conspiracy aiding, theft by unlawful taking-movable property, and receiving stolen property.

Hartman said authorities believe Wilson did not steal the firearms, but police had information the guns were in his home.

Police obtained a search warrant for the residence from Magisterial District Judge Jesse Cramer in Belle Vernon.

The guns were never found.

After discovering the explosives, police called in the Allegheny County Bomb Squad.

The unit, which investigates such discoveries throughout the region, sent a team from Pittsburgh International Airport.

The explosives were taken from the scene in bomb bags for storage at the bomb squad's facility.

Newell firefighters and Brownsville Emergency Medical Services personnel were on scene, but the explosives were removed without incident, Hartman said.

When the items were identified by the bomb squad, federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents were notified.

Hartman said his department is waiting to learn if the ATF will take over the investigation involving the explosives.

Police also found “other prohibitive offensive weapons,” Hartman said, declining to further identify those items.

The investigation continues.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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