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12-year probe into briefcase blast at Texas home finally yields an arrest

After a trip for ice cream on Thanksgiving Day a dozen years ago, Joe Blount and his family returned home to find an ordinary tan briefcase sitting on their front porch.

They carried it into their living room, hoping to figure out who might have left it and how they could return it.The briefcase exploded moments later, killing Blount; his 15-year-old daughter, Angela Jo; and his nephew Michael Columbus, 18. Blount's son Robert, who was 14 at the time, survived but was burned so badly that his plastic slippers melted on his feet. Only his wife, Susan, escaped injury in the 1985 explosion.

After a frustrating investigation that at times seemed hopeless, police believe they have arrested the man who planted the bomb. And they think it may have been intended for someone else.

"We believed it had something to do with narcotics," said Bill Foster, an investigator with the district attorney's office. "We believe the wrong house might have gotten targeted."

Michael Roy Toney, 31, was arrested Thursday and charged with capital murder.

He was already in custody in north Texas for burglary and had been in and out of jail since 1985, according to federal agent Bart McEntire of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. McEntire wouldn't say where Toney was being held.

Agents investigating the bombing said they don't know for certain why Toney might have planted the bomb.

"That's one of the unanswered questions," McEntire said. "We have a very solid criminal case against Toney, and that doesn't prohibit us from proceeding, and indeed we are going forward with the case."

Nor are they certain Blount was the target or, if not, who was. "That trailer park was full of drug dealers," ATF special agent Mike Russell was quoted as saying.