Blaine apartment explosion: Husband and wife charged for making explosive device

A husband and wife from Blaine have been charged in connection to an explosion at a Blaine apartment complex earlier this year, accused of mixing household chemicals to make an explosive material known as TATP.

Lee John Boatner, 28, and Tayler Ann Boatner, 27, both of Blaine, are now charged in Anoka County with various felonies, including explosive/incendiary device violations. The charges stem from an incident on March 3, when police responded to a report of an explosion at the couple's apartment on the 111 block of 116th Avenue Northeast in Blaine. 

Charges say Lee Boatner was mixing household chemicals to make an explosive known as Triacetone Triperoxide or TATP and suffered serious injuries to his hands. His wife, Taylor Boatner was also injured, and their now 3-year-old son was home when the explosion happened, but wasn't injured. 

The explosion caused significant damage to the apartment, including shattering a window and blowing debris onto a neighboring vehicle.

The case has also been sent to the FBI for further investigation. 

Charges detail what happened 

According to the criminal complaints, Blaine police officers responded to the apartment complex on a report of a man, identified as Lee Boatner, who had severe injuries to his hands. Callers had reported to police they heard a loud explosion and saw Boatner in the hallway bleeding with critical injuries. His wife, Taylor Boatner, was bleeding, sitting on the floor holding their son. 

The couple was taken to the hospital for their injuries. The child was home at the time of the explosion, though he was in a different room. He did have a burn from drain cleaner the week before, which needed medical treatment, the charges explained.

The Minneapolis Police Bomb Squad and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the scene. Investigators concluded a large explosion occurred in the primary bedroom of the apartment, noting they found a plastic child's cup that appeared to contain explosive materials. 

The criminal complaint describes the scene where the explosion occurred: 

"As police entered the apartment there was a strong odor of an unknown chemical which also consisted of a burnt scent. There was smoke at the top of the ceiling and blood on the floor and walls of the apartment. In the living area, the TV on the east wall of the living room had been damaged and the screen was hanging on the floor.

"The bedroom had blood spatter on the ceiling, walls, bed, doors, and floor. The explosion had occurred near the exterior window in the bedroom, it was shattered from the inside out. The screen was missing, and the blinds had holes in them and were hanging partially out the window. There was a light haze in the apartment and a smell that was believed to be from a battery. (While standing by as Allina placed [Lee Boatner] on the stretcher, police heard [Lee Boatner] tell paramedics that a battery had exploded.) The Minneapolis Bomb Unit team noted in its report, 'There was no evidence of a battery exploding. There weren't any battery components in the bedroom such as the battery housing, cells, wiring or circuit boards. Given the extent of damage that occurred in the bedroom, it was unlikely that the damage was caused by a battery exploding.'

"Police observed blood, tissue, and bone matter were on the walls, ceiling, and other surfaces in the room. There were pieces of what appeared to be computer equipment on the bed and floor."

Investigators found an unknown crystal-like substance in glass on the counter, which tested positive for TATP. TATP is an explosive that can be created using household chemicals. 

Several bottles of hydrogen peroxide were found in the bedroom. Other necessary chemicals used to make TATP were found in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Some of the chemical bottles were empty and some were still full, charges said. Meanwhile, investigators found a receipt from a Walmart in Blaine that shows the purchase of hydrogen peroxide. Police worked with Walmart to obtain photos of the Boatners buying some of the ingredients used to make TATP. 

In an interview with police, Taylor Boatner said her husband liked to fix things with their son. He'd recently been laid off from his job as a solar electrician. 

Police searched Lee Boatner's computer, which had a bookmark for information on how to make TATP as well as searches for conversions of moles to grams of Acetone; how to use TATP as a detonator for ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil); screenshot of a receipt for Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide. 

Jan. 23, 2023, searches included "Blaine water table," "Poisoning groundwater," "Anoka county gis sewer," "[M]inneapolis interceptor drain," and "Buried Exolosion (sic)."