Ex-girlfriend finds Brainerd man’s pipe bomb while cleaning

When officers arrived at the home, they observed a section of metal pipe on a coffee table with two metal caps, one of which had a green fuse protruding from inside the device.

The Crow Wing County Judicial Center is off Laurel Street in Brainerd.
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BRAINERD, Minn. — A 38-year-old Brainerd man was arrested Wednesday, Dec. 28, after an ex-girlfriend found an apparent live pipe bomb in the home they recently shared.

Johnathan Theodore Durham was arrested Wednesday on one felony count of possession, manufacturing, transporting or storing an explosive device or incendiary device, carrying a maximum sentence of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

Johnathan Theodore Durham
Johnathan Theodore Durham.
Contributed / Crow Wing County Jail

The Brainerd Police Department responded to the incident, reported at 8:43 p.m. on Quince Street in Brainerd. According to the charging document, a woman was cleaning her apartment when she reportedly came across an object she believed to be a pipe bomb.

When officers arrived at the home, they observed a section of metal pipe on a coffee table with two metal caps, one of which had a green fuse protruding from inside the device.

The woman said she found the device on an empty shelf in a closet. She stated she picked up the device with her bare hands and moved it from the closet to the living room. During previous cleanings, she said she’d found black powder containers and cut-open shotgun shells around the home. Durham stored his hunting items in the closet where she reported finding the device, the woman told police.


Officers also found shotgun shells and other ammunition on the table near the device. The officers then requested assistance from the Crow Wing County Bomb Squad.

The homeowner told law enforcement Durham said two days earlier he was planning to make a pipe bomb for someone who “deserved it” and he had plenty of ammunition to do so. The woman told police she did not know who Durham was referring to.

After the device was removed, it was examined using X-rays, which showed what appeared to be a live device as there was powder and fragmentation/shrapnel inside the device consistent with the contents from inside a shotgun shell. The bomb squad took custody of the device.

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Law enforcement later found Durham and informed him the bomb squad had just come from his residence and found a pipe bomb they believed he made.

Durham denied making a pipe bomb and frantically asked if everyone, including his ex-girlfriend, was all right, according to the report, which stated he began to fumble over his words and eventually said the device wasn’t for anything. He said it wasn't put together and nothing was in it. He was “dinking around” and assembled the device and then took it apart about four months earlier, police said in the report.

He then stated he was reminiscing about old times with his grandfather and talked to his ex-girlfriend about how to make pipe bombs, saying he showed her how to make the device.

Durham said he used shotgun shells to get the powder and pellets in the device, which he said was made in the gravel pit by the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. He later said he took the powder and pellets outside and lit the powder to burn it off before throwing the pellets away. He said he did not reassemble the device and he put the parts in a dresser drawer. Durham said he never drilled anything in it or had a fuse in the device.

According to the report, Durham told police he knew it was illegal to do and that is why he never did anything more with it than he did.


After being placed under arrest and while en route to the jail, Durham made a comment in the back seat of the squad car to the effect that he was being framed and that must be why he was missing shotgun shells, the complaint stated.

Durham’s next court appearance is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Jan. 17 in Crow Wing County District Court. Durham remains in custody in the Crow Wing County Jail.

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