PHOENIX – A former Marine told authorities he kept a cache of more than 40 pipe bombs in his Arizona home to please his wife, who believed they would be needed if the U.S. government collapsed, according to court documents released Friday.
Jeffrey Dennis Metcalf, 51, is facing 40 counts of manufacturing, selling and possessing prohibited weapons. He was released from a Phoenix jail Thursday on $50,000 bond.
Police discovered 41 pipe bombs in a cooler in Metcalf’s suburban Mesa garage and one in a backyard trash can, the documents state, adding that components to make 30 more were found in his car.
Authorities evacuated several nearby homes while eight bomb technicians took more than three hours to safely remove the bombs and transport them for disposal. Each pipe bomb had been enhanced with shrapnel, they said.
In an interview with officers, Metcalf said he and his wife are separated and he built the pipe bombs over the past four years at her request. He described her as an “ultra prepper,” who wanted to be ready if the federal government descended into chaos, authorities said.
Carrie Metcalf said she never asked her estranged husband to make any explosive devices and she had no idea that he had bomb-making materials.
“He kept me out of his room,” she told The Associated Press on Friday. “Anyone who knows me now or in the past … knows I’ve never mentioned anything like that.”
Jeffrey Metcalf told investigators he had kept the bombs at his home in Payson for three years before taking them to his Mesa home.
Carrie Metcalf, who has been questioned by investigators, said her husband of five years suffers from mental health issues. She said he forced her and her two teenage children out of the house in January after she gave him “a choice between separation or therapy.”
Efforts to reach Jeffrey Metcalf were not immediately successful.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said the search came after a task force including the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives learned Metcalf was building and storing improvised explosive devices and planned to dispose of them. A DPS spokesman declined to give further details Friday.
Officers conducting surveillance Wednesday reported seeing Metcalf and another man load black containers, duffel bags and firearms cases into Metcalf’s car before Metcalf returned home.
State troopers stopped his vehicle later in the day and said they discovered the bomb-making materials. They said Metcalf acknowledged there were pipe bombs in his garage but said he planned to throw them into a lake the next day.
Records show Metcalf was investigated in 2008 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for making in imitation IED, authorities said. Carrie Metcalf said she did not believe that investigation resulted in any charges.
Calls to the Marine Corps’ communication office were not immediately returned.
A preliminary hearing for Jeffrey Metcalf is set for Sept. 10. A defense attorney has not yet been appointed.