By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A 92-year-old Colorado man who investigators initially thought shot himself to death actually appears to have died when a homemade bomb he was assembling at his remote mountain house detonated accidentally, police said on Sunday.
The body of Edwin Bartheld was found in the crawlspace of his home in the small former mining town of Turret, about 95 miles southwest of Denver, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The sheriff's office said one of the man's friends called authorities on Friday afternoon notifying them they had found Bartheld's body after he had not been heard from in more than a week.
When deputies arrived at the home on Friday, they believed the elderly man died by suicide. But that was revised after authorities discovered a "large cache of explosive devices and chemicals commonly used for manufacturing explosives inside the house,” the statement said.
Bomb experts were called in to remove the chemicals, and detonate the explosive devices, according to the sheriff's office.
Once the house was rendered safe, crews removed the man’s body and determined that he most likely died when one of the bombs he was assembling exploded, police said, adding that Bartheld appeared to have been dead for several days.
Investigators have a possible motive for Bartheld’s bombmaking activities but will not release those details until the probe is completed, Derek Bos, a commander with the sheriff’s office, told Reuters.
“We can say that we don’t believe there was a public safety threat,” Bos said.
An autopsy is set for Monday to confirm the cause of death, Bos said.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Carey Gillam and Cynthia Osterman)