Man charged after pipe bombs are found on Ohio River towboats

Financial Crimes

(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — An Ohio man has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with possession of one or more unregistered destructive devices found aboard towboats on the Ohio River.

According to the criminal complaint filed Oct. 28, law enforcement officers recovered suspected destructive devices from two towboats on Oct. 21 and Oct. 25. The complaint alleges that Nathaniel Blayn Becker, 42, of Marietta, Ohio, purchased pipes and other relevant components of the suspected destructive devices from a Lowe’s store in Marietta on four separate occasions.

“The cooperation of Lowe’s was instrumental in Becker’s arrest and I thank them for their assistance,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “I commend the many law enforcement agencies for their swift investigation leading to Becker’s arrest.”

Financial Crimes

According to the complaint, on Oct. 21, a deck hand on the towboat Janis R. Brewer found what he believed to be a pipe bomb in an empty barge attached to the vessel as it headed upstream just north of Parkersburg. West Virginia State Police bomb technicians X-rayed the device and determined it contained a powder filler consistent with an explosive, the complaint said.

Four days later, the captain and deck hand on another towboat, Connie K., reported hearing a clanking as the boat went under the Interstate 77 bridge between Marietta and Williamstown. They saw two devices, which they believed to have been dropped from the bridge, land on the deck, according to the complaint.

The devices recovered were smaller than the 24-inch pipe discovered on Oct. 21, the complaint said, but both were filled with a suspected similar mixture as the first.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is conducting the investigation with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the West Virginia State Police, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Parkersburg Police Department, the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington County, Ohio, Police Department.

By Professional Mariner Staff