DENVER — No details emerged during a court hearing Wednesday about why authorities think an ex-convict planted a homemade bomb at a Denver-area shopping mall a week after being released from prison.
Earl Albert Moore's public defender told U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer that Moore won't talk to authorities while in custody on a federal charge of arson and said that he's suffering from prostate cancer and hepatitis C.
Moore appeared in court in handcuffs linked to a chain around his waist, dressed in an orange jail uniform and wearing plastic framed glasses that matched those in photographs released by the FBI during a nationwide alert about the suspect.
The search for him ended Tuesday when a shopper at a grocery store in Boulder recognized Moore from the photographs.
Defense attorney Robert Pepin said that Moore was diagnosed with cancer and hepatitis C shortly before his release from federal prison on April 13.
"He would like that to be addressed and addressed quickly," Pepin said.
Shaffer told Moore to be sure to advise prison officials of the problem and ordered him held without bail at least until his next court hearing on May 6.
Moore's arson charge carries penalties of five to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, plus restitution.
Left unanswered is why Moore allegedly traveled more than 1,400 miles within a week of his release from federal prison in Estill, S.C., to Littleton, where authorities say he started a fire and planted a pipe bomb and two propane tanks at Southwest Plaza Mall on April 20. The timing of the fire on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine shootings and the discovery of the makeshift explosives – reminiscent of ones found after the school shootings – initially raised fears that the incident might be connected to the anniversary.
Officials say they know why a man who has spent 18 of the past 27 years bouncing through federal prisons allegedly committed the crime but haven't disclosed any details. However, they insist the apparent attempted bombing isn't related to Columbine.
Authorities said the bomb didn't explode and no one was injured, but a criminal complaint filed against Moore said at least one of the tanks was on fire and that the fire damaged electrical equipment, including a meter.
After firefighters extinguished the blaze, investigators found the two propane tanks taped together, paper stuffed beside the tanks and beside an electrical box, packaging from a box of matches and several partially burned wooden matches, the complaint said.
Investigators say they also found what appeared to be a plastic shopping bag from Target melted to the bottom of one of the tanks.
Investigators said surveillance video and interviews with employees of a nearby Target store show that the suspect bought a two-pack of propane canisters and a roll of tape there the night before the bomb was found, the complaint said. It said one end of the pipe bomb fell off while the bomb squad was securing it, and a black powder spilled out.
The bomb components, matches and debris were sent to an FBI laboratory in Virginia. DNA found on the material matched Moore's DNA profile in a national database, the complaint said.
Investigators obtained Moore's Colorado driver's license photo and a booking photo from the Jefferson County, Colo., jail, and that they matched the man shown on surveillance video from the mall and elsewhere, the complaint said.
Audio of a 911 call shows a female shopper spotting a man who looked like Moore.
"You realize, it's probably not," the woman, whose name was redacted from the audio released by the Boulder Police Department. "But I just didn't want to walk away from it. He does look like him."
Court records show that Moore – who lived in Colorado at least part-time from the mid-1980s to 2004, including five years at a federal prison at Englewood – has a history of offenses dating back to 1966, when he was 20, including allegations involving firearms and explosives.
His latest prison stint ended just a week before the discovery of the explosives at the mall. Moore had been serving time in federal prisons in Atlanta and Estill, S.C., after pleading guilty in May 2005 to robbing a Crab Orchard, W.Va., bank of $2,546.
Moore was also sentenced to five years supervised release as part of his 2005 bank robbery sentence. Fred Bach, chief federal probation officer for Colorado said Moore was supposed to report to West Virginia within 72 hours of his April 13 release, but didn't.
Associated Press writer Catherine Tsai contributed to this report.