CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — A suicidal Pennsylvania man got the idea to blow up his house after watching a TV show about the Hindenburg, the German airship that exploded in 1937, police said.
The 47-year-old man is still recovering from his injuries in the Oct. 12 blast that destroyed his Moon Township home, about 10 miles west of Pittsburgh, and damaged several other homes. Allegheny County police charged him Thursday with arson and related crimes.
Until that complaint was filed, investigators hadn’t explained how the explosion occurred.
According to the complaint, the man was distraught following a phone call with his estranged wife, and was also upset about losing custody of his children and his shaky employment status following a stint in rehab. Having attempted suicide by cutting his wrists days before, he was inspired to blow up his home after watching either a movie or documentary about the Hindenburg, police wrote.
The hydrogen-filled zeppelin exploded on May 6, 1937, as it was being moored in Lakehurst, N.J., killing 36 people.
“This gave him the idea to blow up the house,” according to the complaint filed by Detective Jason Costanzo.
The man told investigators he broke a natural gas line to a basement fireplace, turned on a gas valve and went upstairs to nap, expecting something in the house would eventually ignite the gas. When that didn’t happen, he woke up a few hours later and, attempting to light a cigarette, ignited the gas and destroyed his home, police said.
He was interviewed by police about two weeks after the explosion, according to the complaint.