Bombing was domestic abuse taken to extreme Police investigate source of explosives


An investigation into the bombing that killed five people in Essex on Monday has shifted its focus to a construction company in Winston-Salem, N.C., where Mark Alen Clark worked and might have had access to explosives, federal and Baltimore County police said yesterday.

Police are looking into the possibility that Mr. Clark stole the explosives used to kill himself, his estranged wife and three children from the company, which erects radio towers.

"Federal authorities are looking at Mr. Clark's former employers," Capt. Brian A. Uppercue, a Baltimore County police spokesman, said yesterday. "They found a company where he had worked in North Carolina that uses explosive material believed to be consistent with materials found in the blast here.

"By virtue of the position Mr. Clark had, he would have had access to the material."

As the probe continued, donations of money and services were pouring in to the victims' relatives. Last night, the bodies recovered in the blast were positively identified as Mr. Clark, 32; his estranged wife, Betty Louise Clark, 32, of the 6700 block of Havenoak Road in Rosedale; the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Krysta, of the same address; and Ricardo Valdez, 6, and Malissa Ray, 11, Mrs. Clark's children from previous relationships.

Mr. Clark's relatives in Cumberland said the North Carolina company was called A&K; Communications, but efforts to locate the firm were unsuccessful yesterday.

"We believe he had exposure to [explosives] through his job," said Roy Cheeks, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman. "But we don't know if he might have stolen the materials or not."

Mr. Clark's relatives said he had held several other jobs, including positions as a store salesman, a roofer and an auto mechanic. Acquaintances also said he drove a snowball truck in Rosedale.

His father, William Clark, said that in early or mid-June Mark left Cumberland to move to Winston-Salem and restart his life after separating from his wife. Mark found a newspaper ad for a job that paid $10 an hour for a job building cellular communication towers, his father said.

But family members said they had no idea whether Mr. Clark had any knowledge of explosives through any of his jobs or military experience. He served in the Navy for two years in the early 1980s, they said.

Sheree Mixell, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore ATF office, said last night that leads have taken federal investigators to Winston-Salem.

"We don't have any indication anyone else is involved," she said. "If someone stole the explosives for him or purchased them for him then we have another criminal matter."

Yesterday, Michael Albert, who knew Mr. Clark for about five years, said that Saturday he was shown 25 to 30 sticks of what he believed was dynamite under the rear seat of Mr. Clark's station wagon.

"He was helping me work on my car and he kept going over to his vehicle and checking the inside of it," Mr. Albert, 35, said.

He said the "dynamite" was white with black letters on it. The tops of the cylinders had orange caps with fuses coming out of them, he said. Mr. Albert indicated that Mr. Clark also seemed overly concerned with the contents of a blue cooler.

"He said it was water but he never drank from it," Mr. Albert said.

Services for Mrs. Clark and the children will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Temple Church, in the 900 block of Essex Ave. The church, the command post for federal agents and county police, is about 150 yards from the explosion site.

Mary Thomas, a friend of Mrs. Clark and her sister Katherine Weber, is trustee of a fund established for the victims at the Golden Ring branch of the Provident Bank of Maryland.

Owners of the Connelly Funeral Home, in the 300 block of Mace Ave. in Essex, are handling arrangements and providing low-cost services for the victims. Ms. Thomas said four caskets have been donated by the owners of a Baltimore County cemetery near Liberty Dam.

Burial will be provided free at Dulaney Valley Memorial Garden.

Mr. Clark will be buried in Cumberland, his relatives said.

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