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Bomb suspect caught

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | June 17, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - A Sagle man is in federal custody, identified as the alleged bombmaker in a murder-for-hire scheme purportedly set in motion by Edgar Steele, a former attorney for the Aryan Nations.

Lawrence Andrew Fairfax confessed to federal interrogators on Tuesday that he was hired by Steele to kill Steele's wife, Cyndi.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Fairfax admitted he built and planted an explosive device discovered earlier in the day attached to the underside of an auto registered to Steele.

"Fairfax was provided access to the vehicle by Edgar Steele and the device was affixed to the Mitsubishi at the Steele residence in Sagle, Idaho," reads the affidavit.

This is alleged to have occurred on May 30, after Steele told Fairfax that his wife would be driving the SUV to Oregon the following day.

"The plan was the device would explode and cause the car to crash and cause the death of C.K.S. (Cynthia Steele)," according to the affidavit.

A second explosive device built by Fairfax was to be placed on a car driven by Steele who planned to ignite it to give himself "an alibi or evidence that both he and his wife had been targeted for murder."

Fairfax told investigators he placed extra tape on the fuses in order to cause the devices to malfunction.

Service techs at Fast Lane Quick Lube in Coeur d'Alene discovered one of the devices Tuesday when a woman brought the black Mitsubishi to the oil change shop for servicing.

Police were called, and the Spokane County bomb squad was summoned to remove what appeared to be a pipe bomb from beneath the SUV.

Businesses were evacuated and U.S. Highway 95 was shut down for about an hour as explosives technicians removed the device for detonation at a secure location.

It is unclear whether the customer who drove the vehicle in was Cyndi Steele.

Coeur d'Alene police would not release the identities of the vehicle's owner or the driver "for their protection."

The bomb was discovered four hours prior to Edgar Steele's first appearance in federal court on charges in connection with the murder-for-hire plot.

A federal grand jury indictment was returned against Steele who is being held in custody after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Steele was arrested Friday after authorities were reportedly contacted by a longtime acquaintance claiming Steele had arranged to pay him to murder his wife.

It is unclear whether Fairfax is the same informant or a second person hired by Steele to commit murder.

Fairfax faces federal charges of building and possessing illegal firearms, which includes explosive or incendiary devices. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in jail and as much as a $10,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors have filed a motion to hold Fairfax without bail pending a detention hearing.

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