Man whose house exploded taken into custody for parole violation
Police expect to file charges next week.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The resident of the Franklin Avenue home that exploded late last year causing millions of dollars in damage to the neighborhood has been released from the hospital.
Nate Bortner, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, said Patrick Henry was taken into custody by parole officers when he was discharged from Mercy Hospital at midnight Tuesday.
Henry, 32, is at the state corrections institute in Mercer County on a technical parole violation.
Bortner said the Nov. 27 explosion, which seriously injured Henry, a co-worker and the co-worker's wife, was considered a violation of Henry's parole. Henry is serving parole on two separate convictions out of Mercer County.
Authorities believe Henry may have disconnected the natural gas lines in the house in an attempt to kill himself. It's unclear what ignited the explosion, however.
Five homes on the 800 block of Franklin Avenue have been demolished and four others are expected to be razed due to structural damage.
Bortner said a condition of Henry's parole is that he "refrain from assaultive behavior."
"The explosion caused serious injury to him and others and is considered a violation of his parole," Bortner said.
Bortner said a parole board panel determined there was sufficient evidence to detain Henry pending the outcome of anticipated criminal charges.
New Castle Police Chief Tom Sansone said he expects his department to file charges against Henry next week. The Pennsylvania State Police are also investigating and could potentially bring charges, too.
The most seriously injured explosion victim, Sophie Baker, underwent a surgical procedure Wednesday that may allow her to speak, said Frank Natale, an attorney who is acting as the family spokesman.
Natale said doctors were inserting a "talking tracheotomy tube."
After the explosion Baker, 21, was placed in a medically induced coma to allow doctors to treat her severe burns. In recent weeks, doctors have lessened the medication allowing Baker to go into a "twilight state" where she has opened her eyes, Natale said.
Her recovery is expected to be lengthy, he said.
The injuries suffered by Baker's husband, Jared, 23, have improved to the point where he may return to work soon, Natale said.
Jared Baker and Henry worked at EaCo Chem Inc. in Shenango Township. Baker and his wife went to Henry's home Nov. 27 to check on his well-being when Henry failed to show up for work or call in.