Miami Herald, The (FL) - January 6, 1983
Author: MIRIAM CONRAD Herald Staff Writer

Three firebombs planted in the Southland Twin Theater were "very amateur but very ingenious," Fort Lauderdale police said Wednesday.

There was only one problem with the contraptions: They never exploded. One of the bombs, contrived from gasoline and household items such as light timers, extension cords and hot plates, smoldered and caused about $3,000 in damage to carpeting and chairs.

"It’s absolutely amazing it didn’t work," said Detective Jim Ives.

If it had, it would have destroyed most of the evidence, he said. "It was a brilliant idea, if you want to know the truth."

Police, investigating a report of an open door at the theater at 900 W. State Road 84, discovered the bombs about 7 a.m., four hours after they were set to go off.

The arsonist accidentally sabotaged one of the bombs
himself. "The extension cord was carelessly placed across the hot plate," said police spokeswoman Diana Morrissette. "When it turned on, it shorted the extension cord."

The second bomb smoldered. The third, placed in an aisle, burned but didn’t explode. The carpet around the device had been doused with gasoline, but it evaporated before the hot plate turned on.

All of the appliances used for the makeshift bombs were brand new. The bombs probably cost about $140 to $180 to make, Ives said.

Investigators found no sign that the theater had been broken into, although the owner told them he checked the doors twice before leaving Tuesday night, Morrissette said.

Only the electrical circuits needed to power the devices had been turned on, leading police to believe the arsonists were familiar with the building.

Police knew of no former or disgruntled employes who might have wanted to torch the theater , which was insured for more than $100,000.

They were trying to find out who had keys to the theater and who might have had a motive to burn it down.

"It appears to be the work of two people," Ives said.

Investigators planned to check for fingerprints and ask the owner and his family to take lie detector tests, Ives said.

The owner, Robert Eisenman, said he was sleeping when police called to notify him about the attempted firebombing.

"I haven’t got the slightest idea" who would want to burn it, he said. "It was a shock to me."

He said he locked up the theater Tuesday at 11:05 p.m., just after the films Still of the Night and My Favorite Year ended.

Eisenman said he expected the theater would be closed for 10 to 14 days while damage to the carpets, seats and screen is repaired.

No comments: