After spending nearly six years investigating whether any criminal acts contributed to the Oct. 23, 2008 explosion that completely leveled a home in the 4800 block of Deadwood Camp Court in the Talavera community east of Las Cruces, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office has officially closed the case without filing any charges.
The decision was made jointly with the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Doña Ana County Fire Marshal. The conclusion comes after what a lead investigator said was “insufficient evidence to support any criminal activity.”
The disposition officially clears the homeowners, Paul and Kimberlee Hering, who were not home at the time of the blast.
According to court documents, the Herings said they left their residence around 4 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2008 to go to Ruidoso. They told investigators they had been doing some work on the 4,413 square-foot house – to replace tile and install some speakers – because they were getting ready to sell the home and believed they had a buyer. Because of the pending sale, much of the furniture had been moved out of the house.
Hering said the propane tank had last been filled in September, and the shut-off valve had been reopened at that time, after being closed while the couple was on vacation in Wyoming.
Neighbors in the area reported the blast at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 23, 2008. Thirteen houses within a half-mile radius of the property were damaged by the explosion – some seriously.
Inspections to the propane tank and gas system throughout the house were current, and no discrepancies were reported.
According to a statement written by Clay Bailey, a state gas inspector, a flexible gas line connector behind a clothes dryer was found to be disconnected, allowing gas to enter the home after the service valve to the home was turned on from the propane tank.
“The escaping gas then found a competent ignition source, causing the ensuing explosion and fire,” Bailey said.
The source of the ignition was never determined.
Information from: Dona Ana County