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Man arrested with bombs in car may have been planning to kill wife

Corvallis police arrested Kenneth Smelser, 33, after he was allegedly caught speeding downtown, authorities said.

Posted: Jan 21, 2020 6:41 PM

PHILOMATH, Ore. -- A traffic stop in Corvallis might have prevented a murder after police found bombs and more in the car, Philomath Police Chief Ken Reuben said.

Reuben said Corvallis police arrested Kenneth Smelser, 33, of Albany on Jan. 12 after he was allegedly caught speeding in downtown Corvallis. 

The Oregon State Police bomb squad was called in after police allegedly found three homemade bombs, eight guns, ammunition and a bulletproof vest.

Reuben said Smelser also had a warrant out for his arrest after his estranged wife reported that she was being stalked by him back in August. The Philomath chief said Smelser may have been planning to kill his wife.

"It may not have been imminent at that exact moment, but someplace he was ramping up to do bodily harm, and we believe he was going to try to kill her," Reuben said.

Smelser is currently in custody at the Benton County Jail. He's facing 12 charges, including eight counts of unlawful possession of a destructive device. Records show he's pleaded not guilty, and his bail has been set at $200,000.

Reuban said they have gotten search warrants and have been searching Smelser's property, including vehicles, home and a storage unit to look for additional weapons. He said they have also been working with other agencies to relocate Semler's wife to a place where he can't find her.

"I don't remember when the last four or five years that we've dealt with of something of this magnitude where we believe that somebody was going to harm somebody and was planning to do it," Reuban said.

Smelser is set to back in court on Jan. 23 for a status hearing.

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