Federal investigators will compare fragments from a 1996 bombing at Spokane’s City Hall with bomb parts found in an abandoned motor home used by Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe.
The tests were ordered Monday after Cheyne Kehoe told a network TV news show that his imprisoned brother, Chevie Kehoe, was responsible for the Spokane bombing.
“It’s an excellent lead,” one investigator said of the news report.
The Kehoe brothers abandoned the motor home in Wyoming last year about two weeks after a videotaped shootout with police in Ohio.
In the motor home, federal agents found an assortment of bomb-making components, including muzzle-loading powder timers, a fuse and a battery.
Court documents recently unsealed in Wyoming show authorities also seized 10 pounds of potassium and ammonium perchlorate and 10 pounds of barium and potassium nitrate from the motor home.
Those chemicals commonly are used in explosives and solid rocket propellants.
Scientists will attempt to match those chemicals and other potential bomb parts with remnants of the April 29, 1996, bomb that exploded outside City Hall.
The bombing remains unsolved.
Margaret Moore, regional supervisor for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Seattle, said the comparison tests will be done in an attempt to verify or discredit Cheyne Kehoe’s story.
She said it may take several days for the tests to be completed by ATF forensic chemists in Walnut Creek, Calif.
The Kehoes fled in the motor home in March 1997 and lived undetected for three months on a farm in southern Utah before Cheyne Kehoe returned to Colville and surrendered.
He gave the FBI information that led to his brother’s arrest the next day.
Among items seized from Chevie Kehoe were bomb-making instruction manuals that are commonly sold at gun shows.
The explosive used at City Hall wasn’t a pipe bomb, but contained a metal device detonated with a timer and electronic ignition, sources said at the time of the bombing.
Packed with nails and screws, the bomb was potentially lethal, investigators said. It exploded at 3 a.m., hurling shrapnel 150 yards away.
No one was injured.
Initially, investigators focused on the possibility that the Hells Angels or a sympathetic outlaw biker group might be responsible for the City Hall bombing.
The bomb went off just six hours before a member of the Spokane chapter of the Hells Angels went on trial for a murder. The trial ended with an acquittal.
At the time of the bombing, Chevie Kehoe was living at the Shadows Motel and RV Park, 9025 N. Division, and making frequent road trips.
A former manager at the Shadows said in January that Chevie Kehoe spent time building machine guns, homemade blasting caps and small bombs.
“He was setting off these blasting caps that he’d put under phone books,” the manager said.
Moore said investigators also will attempt to interview Cheyne Kehoe, who is serving 24 years in prison for shooting at the Ohio officers.
He told “Dateline NBC” that his brother, Chevie, was responsible for the Spokane bombing. “He had set a bomb off outside a building, yes,” Cheyne Kehoe said.
When asked which building was targeted, he responded: “All I know is that it was in front of City Hall in Spokane.”
The NBC interview was conducted in Ohio on Dec. 11, 1997, the day before his brother was indicted in Little Rock, Ark., on federal racketeering charges.
In January, when Cheyne Kehoe was sentenced to prison for attempted murder, he told a packed courtroom that he also had knowledge of his brother’s involvement in the bombing of a federal building.
It is not clear now if that was a reference to the Spokane City Hall bombing or yet another bombing.
Chevie Kehoe has called his brother a liar and denied any involvement in a bombing.