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SANDY POLICE LOOKING FOR FORMER UTAHN

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Two Sandy police detectives were in Idaho this week trying to track down a former Murray resident facing explosives charges in Utah and to question him about a house bombing here in August.

Douglas L. Birkinbine, 33, was charged Thursday in 3rd Circuit Court with possession of an explosive device found Aug. 22 in a suitcase outside a home at 1573 E. 8730 South in Sandy.Sandy Police Chief Sam Dawson stressed that Birkinbine is not considered a suspect in an Aug. 17 explosion that destroyed a Sandy house and ended with one man dead. But investigators do believe the incidents could be related.

The blast injured a woman and destroyed the home at 8876 S. 400 East. Rescue crews pulled the body of 21-year-old Californian Phillip Boykin from the blast, although it was later determined Boykin sustained gunshot wounds before the explosion.

"Officially, at this point, he's not a suspect in the murder," Dawson said of Birkinbine. "However, there is consistency between the two cases. We do want to talk to him."

According to court documents filed Thursday, Birkinbine's fingerprints were on the explosive material found Aug. 22 and the material was "consistent with" the device that blew up five days earlier. Also, Birkinbine was seen Aug. 17 carrying a suitcase similar to the one found later with explosives inside, the charges state.

Birkinbine's 34-year-old ex-wife, Denise Williams, told the Deseret News on Thursday her estranged husband served in the U.S. Army and spoke of receiving explosives training.

"He was taught how to manufacture explosives and just the basics. . . . He knew enough about it," Williams said from the Murray home they once shared. "I never saw him make a bomb.

"I remember one time he showed me what a det (detonation) cord was because a friend of his was blasting some land, leveling off some ground."

Asked whether her former husband would be capable of bombing a home, Williams said, "I couldn't believe that he would be that stupid."

She said the couple's five-year marriage began to falter last November after Birkinbine lost his business, an aikido studio in West Jordan. In February they filed for divorce and Birkinbine moved out of the home, Williams said.

"It's like when his business failed his life failed and so he gave up on me and gave up on everything," she said.

Birkinbine left for his native Idaho in May and returned to get his belongings from Williams in June. That was the last time his ex-wife said she saw him.

Williams described Birkinbine as "very gentle . . . a big teddy bear," and as someone who has "lots of dreams and aspirations," but also as "very irresponsible, very childish."

"He's a good man," she said. "He never did me any harm."

Possession of an explosive device is a second-degree felony. If convicted, Birkinbine could face a prison sentence of 1 to 15 years.

Dawson said he is "very optimistic" the bombing and murder cases will be resolved soon.