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Texas death of Newell man confirmed in explosives investigation

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 2:11 a.m.

Authorities in Texas have confirmed the death of a Newell man in whose home police allegedly found military and industrial explosives.

Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman said his department recently received a death certificate from the Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Unit confirming the body found in a motel in Vidor, Texas, in early December was that of Jeffrey Wilson.

Hartman declined to reveal the cause of death, but said it was not homicide.

An autopsy was conducted on the body, found in the small West Texas town about 20 miles from the Louisiana border. Wilson was alone in the hotel room when his body was discovered.

Hartman said the body was cremated, adding authorities never saw the remains afterward.

Despite Wilson's death, Southwest Regional Police are still investigating weapons, explosives and a computer found in the Newell home, Hartman said. Police, awaiting the results of a forensic search, are trying to determine if the computer was registered to Wilson.

Officers investigating a burglary ring that struck several homes in Newell over a five-month period went to Wilson's residence Nov. 26 in search of two guns.

Police allegedly found:

• Nine 5-minute fuses.

• 27 10-minute railway fuses.

• Four railway fuses.

• 46 railway torpedoes.

• Two military M-18 red smoke grenades.

• About 76.6 feet of military detonation cord.

• Approximately 6.6 feet of military time fuse.

• Several loaded AK-47 assault rifle magazines.

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

Hartman said Wilson had connections in Texas, where he once worked as an electrician.

Hartman said that shortly after the explosives were discovered, his department traced Wilson to Texas and notified authorities there.

Hartman said Wilson refused to return to Pennsylvania.

In October, 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.

In December, Southwest Regional charged Ryan Cline of 100 Church St., Jacobs Creek, with six counts of illegal possession or selling of firearms; three counts each of conspiracy to commit theft of a firearm and theft by unlawful taking; and one count of carrying a concealed firearm without a license.

Brandon Perine, 19, of 101 Linden St., Monessen, was charged in December with conspiracy to commit theft of a firearm and theft by unlawful taking.

Matthew von Kerik, 21, of 136 Fourth St., Newell, was picked up in Penn Hills on an arrest warrant held by Southwest Regional Police.

He confessed to participating in a burglary at 206 Long St., Newell.

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