FOX 29 Investigates: The trail of the suspected Pine Street bomber

When a package bomb went off in Jim Alden's face back in November, it stunned the city and touched off a manhunt for the suspected bomber.

"To try to hurt somebody like this, basically building a device that can kill, injure or maim is somebody that's very dangerous. He needs to be off the streets, said Sam Rabadi of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"We're fortunate we didn't have a fatality, first and foremost, and more people weren't injured," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told FOX 29.

The explosion blew off parts of the 60-year-old Alden's fingers and sprayed shrapnel all over his upper body and his face. Neighbors in the building next door described the early morning blast.

"The blast was just to the right of my window. It was really loud," said Phillip Wheatle. "I knew it was a bomb."

Investigators swarmed the scene, collecting evidence, analyzing the bomb's components and came to the conclusion this was a personal attack targeting Alden.

"I can tell you. It is out of the norm. It's not something we typically see here in this region and it had a level of sophistication that we also don't normally see here in the city," Rabadi told FOX 29 .

"We can't have an individual setting off devices aimed at basically maiming or killing an individual. That's absolutely unacceptable," Commissioner Ross added.

Alden, who works at a South Philadelphia catering company, was interviewed by police looking for some clues as to who might have done this. They combed the area and recovered a lot of surveillance video of the person they believe delivered the explosive device to Alden's door step. They also believe whoever built the bomb knew exactly what they were doing.

FOX 29 has now learned that detectives uncovered video from at least 20 different cameras that picked up the suspected bomber enroute to the crime scene and making his getaway. The bomber walked the exact same streets to and from the bomb site.

"We have the video footage depicting this individual walking for blocks and blocks; up and back. Bizarre behavior," Comm. Ross said.

Sources say investigators first picked up the suspected bombers trail on camera at 3rd and Spring Garden in Northern Liberties. He walked block after block, over two miles, carrying the bomb in a shoulder bag until he reached Alden's home in the 1800 block of Pine Street and left the package with the improvised explosive device inside, according to sources.

"When you see that level of focus, it's somewhat scary that someone would be so hell bent on harming someone," Comm. Ross added.

Alden's home video shows the person of interest go west on Pine to 19th Street, south to Lombard and then east. Again, he walked block after block in full view of surveillance cameras. The trail lead right back to 3rd and Spring Garden Street where a fire department camera caught the last glimpse of the person disappearing up 3rd Street.

"We eventually put him in the neighborhood of Northern Liberties. That just took a tremendous amount of follow-up investigation. Amazing, what our folks can do with really good technology out there," Rabadi said.

"Trying to figure out where this person came from, but most importantly who is it," the commissioner said.

Sources also say bomb experts recovered a crucial DNA sample from the exploded device. They have asked at least a dozen people for DNA samples since the investigation started. None so far have turned up a match.

"You've got to be able to point towards someone. It doesn't magically, as you well know, identify individuals," Comm. Ross explained.

Police and postal officials also flooded Northern Liberties with flyers showing the person of interest.

"Give us a call, maybe it will be that lead that we need," Commissioner Ross said.

"I feel extremely confident we will be able to apprehend this individual," said Rabadi.

Sources also say the victim and his partner have been cooperative with the investigation, but know of no reason why anyone would want to harm Alden. All potential motives remain on the table.

"There really is no clear-cut motive," Rabadi said. "We've looked at everything, everything. All of us".

"We don't want anyone else harmed. we have no reason to believe anyone else will be targeted, but you just never know," Commissioner Ross said.

Sources say the package did have a return address on it, but the address for the firm was bogus. Pieces of the bomb are still being analyzed as investigators try to determine where the components came from or who may have sold them to the bomb maker.


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