More on the Dead Aspen Bomb Suspect

Around 7pm last night, four and a half hours after leaving suspicious packages at Aspen banks, these letters from now deceased Aspen bombing suspect James Chester Blanning, Jr., were delivered to the Aspen Times. (background here):


Blanning had a federal tax lien of just over $60,000 pending against him. I wonder if that's why he picked that number. But he planned on delivering the letters to four banks, for a total of $240,000. He abandoned the plan after delivering two.

The Rocky Mountain News today mentions he had been in prison for racketeering. I found from public records last night, but didn't want to prejudice him by writing about it that in the 90's, James Chester Blanning, Jr. was involved in buying and selling mining claims. He had a company, Aspen-Western Mining, Ltd. that dissolved in 2003. He also has some tax federal tax liens, the most recent for $60+k. An older one is from 1998 and lists his address as "Box 999, Canon City" which happens to be a state prison.

He was charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief in Aspen in 1994. A week later, he was charged with misdemeanor third degree assault in neighboring Garfield County. In 1995 and 1996, he was charged with racketeering in Aspen and in Rio Blanco County (Apparently, this is why he was in prison in 1998.)

There were 7 civil suits filed against him in the 90's, including one by a man to whom he sold some mining claims.

Back to the present: His notes are interesting in that while castigating Bush, Rove and Cheney for the Iraq War, his reference to "towel heads" shows he's clearly prejudiced against Iraqis and middle easterners. And on a local note, he has a lot of hatred for Mick Ireland, now Aspen's mayor, who in the past was a city councilman and before that a reporter for an Aspen paper. But he seems okay with Sheriff Bob Braudis (who happens to be my favorite law enforcement officer as I've written many times.)

The Aspen Times has more on Blanning's prior history and antics .

The Aspen Daily News has more on the surreal evacuation of the town. In all, 190 members of various agencies responded to the threats.

The bombs were real:

[Aspen police chief Bill] Linn said that police bomb squads detonated the bombs once the area was cleared, and that one of the packages created a fireball outside a Wells Fargo bank when police detonated it. No one was injured.

Linn said the bombs were dangerous, containing plastic bladders of gasoline, but Linn did not describe exactly how sophisticated they were.

The town evacuation was lifted around 5:00 a.m. It's believed Blanning was acting alone.

Update: From today's news conference: The cost of law enforcment addressing the threat: $150 - 250,000. It was Sheriff Braudis who was able to identify Blanning from the bank security camera photo. Losses to area businesses will be in the millions.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I don't know what to say (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:32:14 PM EST
    beyond it being a sad end to what looks to have been a sad life.

    My sympathies to all affected by this.

    Removing swear words in the note (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by blogtopus on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:26:42 PM EST
    I love how the public can take the story of possible mass death, and the sad story of an old criminal who couldn't take it anymore, but they CAN'T take the F word or S word. How awful that anyone should read the word S** or F**.

    This poor guy was obviously not fitting into this world. Maybe if he'd been born a Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld, things would have been better for him. God have mercy on his soul.

    Interesting to note (none / 0) (#3)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:32:58 PM EST
    He was a white collar criminal.
    He was an old man.
    He was still plenty dangerous.

    he wasn't really a white collar criminal (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 02:29:05 PM EST
    he was a loner obsessed with mining claims with obvious mental health issues.

    A lot of criminals (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 02:52:45 PM EST
    have unaddressed mental health issues.  This guy isn't all that remarkable in that respect, he just got bigger headlines is all.

    And then instead of saying "Gee, maybe we could avoid these situations if we provided mental health services."  people say "Crazy people should be locked up!" even though we are already doing that.  Predictably, if you lock up someone with mental health problems and don't treat those problems, the person still has those problems when they are released.


    As a family recently affected (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:53:56 PM EST
    by the pathetic manner that mental health issues are approached and real help is available in the great U.S. of A., all I can do is agree.  I suppose our bipolar gun wielding friend would have been locked up as a criminal last month except that he is an almost serving 20 yrs active duty U.S. Army soldier.  He has an automatic hero label slapped on him due to the lawlessness of a bunch of white collar criminals in these current times. That means we can't/won't notify law enforcement but we will call his family and tell them to hide when he is on the road, armed, and headed their way acting dangerous.  Hopefully he'll only quietly without press coverage blow his own head off and probable public relations catrastrophe problem solved.

    Sorry to hear that. (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:19:23 PM EST
    Often drugs and mental illness intersect when people seek to self medicate.  Depression, AD/HD and bipolar are all disorders with increased incidence of drug use, abuse and addiction.  

    It's odd to see Jeralyn advocate for addiction treatment programs while remaining silent on treating mental health problems, especially since mental health problems often predispose people to use drugs.  If drugs aren't the problem, then what is the problem(s) and why aren't we addressing it/them?


    I suspect these types (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by SOS on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:48:00 PM EST
    of things could get worse before they get better as we continue our race to the bottom.

    Put people in a life survival state and you will be very surprised to see how quickly the thin veneer of civilization disappears.

    Bottom line is this country is in a bad jam.

    We've created more problems then we can deal with.

    I think as human beings we probably (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:11:16 PM EST
    will always have more problems than we can deal with.  The system is going to be under great strain though.  What everybody considers "reality" is going to shift a lot.  Individuals among us already stressed with "problems" may be pushed over the edge.

    i'm glad the only person he hurt (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 01:01:27 AM EST
    was himself. i'm sure aspen will recover financially. i understand the fireworks were rescheduled to tonite. perhaps that will bring the partiers back out.