SAN DIEGO — Authorities are slowly trying to piece together how — and why — a 54-year-old Serbian emigre acquired large quantities of ingredients that could be used to make the kind of bombs favored by terrorists.
The work of a squad of local, state and federal explosives experts is being made more difficult because the one-story, stucco house in a leafy neighborhood in Escondido, north of San Diego, where the materials were found is considered too dangerous to re-enter.
Investigators carted off several computers and numerous written documents in hopes of finding a motive for the alleged actions of George Djura Jakubec, a naturalized U.S. citizen, who now faces 26 bomb-making charges and two charges of bank robbery, all felonies.
Jakubec, who was on probation for a 2009 burglary conviction when he was arrested Nov. 18, remains in jail in lieu of $5 million bail.
Never miss a local story.
The list of items seized from Jakubec's rental home and backyard represents a virtual shopping list for bomb-makers, investigators said. Among the items are several kinds of acid, as well as pentaerythritol tentranitrate, or PETN.
PETN is a plastic explosive that was used by so-called shoe-bomber Richard Reid and is considered by terrorism experts as the weapon of choice of al-Qaida bombers. It also is one of the main ingredients that the Transportation Security Administration's new full-body screening and pat-down procedures for airline passengers are hoping to find.
Also seized at the home were blasting caps, firearms, homemade grenades, and 50 pounds of hexamine, a bomb-making material, according to court documents.
Jakubec lived alone in the home, which he had ringed with security cameras. His estranged wife, reportedly a Russian emigre, attended his arraignment Monday at San Diego County Superior Court, where he pleaded not guilty.
Rushing past reporters, Marina Ivanova said her husband is a "good man" and that she still loves him but that he had become "an obsessive collector" in recent years.
Investigators who have been inside the house describe it in terms consistent with the habitat of someone classified as a compulsive hoarder.
The floor, tables, desks, chairs and virtually every horizontal surface were covered with papers, boxes, documents, cans, jars and other things. Even as they picked their way around the house for evidence on two occasions, investigators were careful not to jostle or step on things that could prove volatile or explosive.
Enough evidence was gathered inside the house for the weapons and bank robbery charges. There is no suggestion that Jakubec was a suspect in the bank robberies before authorities searched the house.
Sheriff's Detective Benny Cruz said experts on the scene determined that the materials are "extremely sensitive to shock, friction and heat, making it very dangerous to manufacture and handle."