(NEW YORK) — A volunteer mental health counselor in Oregon has been charged with the attempted murder of his wife and four kids after he severed a gas line in his home and fled to a nearby field, police said.
James Speidel, 36, faces five counts of attempted murder, five counts of attempted assault and attempted arson charges.
Speidel allegedly cut the gas line leading into the family’s home, causing his wife to wake up to the smell of natural gas early Tuesday morning. The woman evacuated the home with her four children and called the gas company and police, who quickly located Speidel in a nearby field, according to ABC News affiliate KATU.
Investigators determined that the gas line flowing into the home had been intentionally cut and a hose leading to an outdoor grill had been redirected into the crawl space of the house. The home had filled with enough gas to cause a explosion that would have damaged other homes in the neighborhood if ignited, according to the report.
Speidel works for Nike and volunteers for a drug treatment and mental health counseling program called LifeWorks NW.
According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to the Speidel home just before 11:30 p.m. Monday after an alarm started going off.
They found no one home and left messages on the family’s cell and home phones, telling them their alarm had gone off. They also checked out the property and, finding no signs of a break-in, they left a card, notifying them they had been to the home and why.
“We had no reason to think it was anything more than an alarm going off,” Sgt. Bob Ray told KATU. “We respond to a lot of those. Obviously, now we are investigating to see if it was connected to what happened later.”
Speidel is being held on $1 million bail, according to the report.
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