ODU student arrested after pipe bombs found in Newport News home during search for drug lab

Posted at 12:33 PM, May 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-16 06:03:27-04

Newport News, Va. - Authorities were looking for a possible drug lab in a Newport News home, but they found two pipe bombs instead, according to new court documents. Now police have arrested ODU student John C. Elder in connection to the incident.

Court documents give insight into what HAZMAT crews were doing in the upscale Newport News neighborhood.

There were two search warrants in the clerk of courts' office in Newport News.  One for police and the other for the fire department.

Court documents state the Deputy Fire Marshal went to the home looking for a possible drug lab. During the search, they found two pipe bombs with the ends cut off in an upstairs bedroom.

It stated there were two labs set up which contained additional products to manufacture an explosive device.

Among the almost 70 items seized from the home were 14 possible Percocet pills, a digital scale, a camera, a computer, liquid samples for several containers, chemicals, powders and a white notepad with a written formula on how to manufacture methamphetamine.

We went back to speak with the 80-year-old homeowner on Monday and showed her the list of items. She said she lives with her 23-year-old grandson who has always had a love for science.

She knew he had been conducting experiments in her home, but he told her everything was legal.

Shirley Rucher said, "He just knew that all of his chemicals were okay; legal and okay."

The homeowner says she is rethinking all the years she encouraged her grandson’s love of science and says she just wants her computer back that was seized during the investigation.

Officials have charged Elder with bomb, explosive create or possess or use.

Elder is now in the Newport News City Jail with no bail.