Teen Accused of Plotting to Bomb Family While They Slept

October 7, 2008 - 5:16 PM
A suburban Pittsburgh teenager tried to kill his sleeping family by placing homemade chlorine bombs while they slept, police said.
Pittsburgh (AP) - A suburban Pittsburgh teenager tried to kill his sleeping family by placing homemade chlorine bombs while they slept, police said.
 
Christopher Janney, 16, of South Fayette, was charged with attempted homicide for leaving what police described as "chlorine compression bombs" near the heads of five family members while they were asleep. Janney is being charged as an adult.
 
Police said the six devices were made of clear bottles with white powder that smelled of chlorine. The bottles did not explode and no one was injured.
 
Janney's mother, Bonnie, told WPXI-TV that her son "has mental problems," but that she did not think he would do anything to hurt her. A person who answered the phone at the family's home told The Associated Press no one would comment.
 
The one-page complaint spelled out some details of what family members told police, but did not explain Janney's purported motive.
 
Linda Hippert, superintendent of South Fayette School District where Janney is a high school junior on the soccer team, called the incident shocking.
 
She described Janney as "just what I would call your regular everyday student, and by that I mean not a student who was in trouble," she said.
 
Police didn't explain specifically how the bombs were assembled or what kind of injuries they were capable of causing.
 
"It's an open investigation. We don't want to jeopardize what we're doing," South Fayette Police Chief Louis Volle said Tuesday. "We've got a lot of unanswered questions."
 
Sgt. Al Wessel of Allegheny County's bomb squad told KDKA-TV that he did not believe such devices would kill, but said they could cause serious burns and possible blindness.
 
The criminal complaint also said that Janney had used a peppermill to grind up rat poison. It did not indicate whether he tried to use the rat poison on his family.
 
Police said they recovered a chemical gas mask, and text messages and e-mail from a computer and cell phone in Janney's home. He had asked at least one person how to mix chemicals and wrote, "I went through with my plan," the complaint said.
 
The teen was arrested Sunday, but Volle wouldn't say where or how. The complaint said Janney and an accomplice planned to leave town by bus.
 
Janney is charged with five counts each of attempted homicide and one count each of reckless endangerment and criminal conspiracy.
 
Janney remained in jail Tuesday afternoon and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh at which he could either present a defense attorney or have one assigned to him by a judge.