One of the men accused of leaving several explosive devices in front of the home of a local detective on the night of Jan. 4 was reportedly seeking revenge against the officer for the arrest of his sister.

Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker said Thursday that the alleged target in the case, Detective Merl Reed with the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office, had arrested the sister of one of the two men charged in the case, Jesse Newton, earlier in the day on Jan. 4.

“Detective Merl Reed had arrested Jesse Newton’s sister, Juice Newton, earlier that day on some warrants,” Walker said. “We believe that was the motive here.”

Newton, 24 of Waldo, and his alleged accomplice, 23-year-old James Hill of Searsport have been arrested as a result of an investigation into the incident that included WCSO, the Belfast Police Department, the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

On Jan. 5, Newton was arrested and charged with violating a protection order, criminal use of explosives and aggravated possession of marijuana. Hill was arrested Jan. 13 on a charge of criminal use of explosives.

According to a press release from WCSO, Reed was at his home on the evening of Jan. 4 “when he heard several loud explosions outside of his home.”

An affidavit on file at Fifth District Court in Belfast from Stuart Jacobs with the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office stated that he was called to assist with the investigation of the criminal use of so-called “acid bombs” at Reed’s residence.

Jacobs stated these types of “over-pressure devices” are commonly made with plastic soda bottles filled with several kinds of reactive chemicals and aluminum foil.

“The mixture of the liquid chemicals and aluminum foil creates a chemical reaction [that] when confined in a plastic bottle will develop sufficient pressure to rupture/shred the bottle, casuing a loud report that often sounds like a shotgun,” stated Jacobs. “The explosion can cause significant damage and exposure to the chemicals can cause serious injury.”

Jacobs said Reed was at home watching television at about 8:35 p.m. when he heard three loud explosions outside.

“Detective Reed described the explosion as if someone had discharged a shotgun,” Jacobs stated.

Reed reportedly went outside to investigate. The detective then got into his cruiser and headed down his driveway to look around some more and that’s when he noticed “a large quantity of roofing nails in his driveway,” according to the affidavit.

After checking the area around the driveway and the nearby ditch, Reed located three plastic soda bottles that had exploded, according to the affidavit. Reed reportedly found several other soda bottles that had not exploded.

Reed called WCSO to report the incident.

Deputies Kevin Littlefield and Nicholas Oettinger initially responded, as well as officers with the Belfast Police Department.

As Reed and the deputies were collecting nails from the driveway, the officers noted that they appeared to be shiny, new, and perhaps recently purchased, according to the affidavit. Littlefield stated that Belfast Variety would be the only place in the area that would sell roofing nails at that time of night, so he contacted Belfast Sgt. John Gibbs and asked him to check with store staff and see if such a sale had been made.

Jacobs stated that Gibbs learned Newton had purchased a pound of roofing nails at the store at about 5 p.m. on Jan. 4, and that video surveillance reportedly showed images of Newton in the store picking up handfuls of roofing nails.

While talking with deputies at the scene, Reed noticed a Ford Ranger driving by his residence, Jacobs stated. Reed reportedly recognized the driver as one of Newton’s relatives and the passenger as a female acquaintance of Newton’s.

“Detective Reed felt this to be suspicious considering the recent arrest of Juice Newton and the evening’s events,” Jacobs stated.

Littlefield stopped the Ford Ranger a short time later and interviewed the two women separately, Jacobs stated. Initially, Newton’s relative stated they were headed to her brother’s house to look at a vehicle. Newton’s female friend said Newton had not left his home in Waldo at all that day, but after being further questioned the woman stated that Newton had gone out to buy something for dinner.

Jacobs stated he met Littlefield at the site of the traffic stop and asked Newton’s friend some additional questions.

“During this interview [Newton’s friend] admitted that Jesse [Newton] was aware that his sister Juice was arrested by Detective Reed. [Newton’s friend] admitted that Jesse [Newton] was angry at Detective Reed but would not elaborate more on what the conversation was or why he was angry at Detective Reed,” Jacobs stated.

According to the affidavit, Jacobs went with other officers to Newton’s residence at about 4 p.m. Jan. 5 to execute a search warrant. At that time, Jacobs stated, police located “numerous three liter plastic soda bottles on the ground behind the dwelling” as well as pieces of aluminum foil.

“The soda bottles are similar in size and manufacture to those found at the residence of Merl Reed,” Jacobs stated.

Newton denied involvement with the acid bomb incident, the affidavit said, and following his arrest, Newton reportedly continued to be uncooperative and refused to speak to police.

Jacobs said evidence recovered at the scene at Reed’s residence included seven acid bombs, three of which had exploded.

Court records show that Newton is scheduled to appear at Fifth District Court Thursday, Jan. 26 for a hearing on his motion to amend his bail, which was set at $15,000 cash or $100,000 surety during his initial court appearance in district court Jan. 6.

In his motion, dated Jan. 15, Newton stated in writing that he would like to have his bail reduced to $70,000 surety so “I can get out and get help with alcoholism and addiction problems.”

Court records show Newton’s bail conditions bar him from possessing firearms and explosives, and from having any contact with Reed. The conditions also state Newton is not to possess or use drugs or alcohol, and that he will be subject to random searches and testing for those substances.

In addion, Newton is scheduled for a status conference at Fifth District Court Thursday, March 29.

Police say additional charges are pending, and the case remains under review by the Waldo County District Attorney’s Office.