Pittsburgh man’s death in house explosion on daughter’s wedding day ruled ‘suicide’
The body of homeowner John Evans was found among the debris after he ‘blew up his house after disconnecting the gas lines,’ cops said
The house exploded just before 2.30pm Saturday in Edgewood, Pennsylvania
A body believed to be the homeowner was found in the rubble hours later
Neighbors recalled seeing Evans, outside the property minutes before explosion rocked the street
Citing information from neighbors, Edgewood Police Chief Robert Payne said: ‘There’s a great potential here that he would have blown the house up’
Chief Payne said it appears the sole victim cut the home’s main gas line and sparked the blast
Most of the family was out of the house for the victim’s daughter’s wedding at the time of the explosion and resulting fire
Authorities had previously visited the home for mental health-related domestic issues
John Evans seen here with his wife Shawna, blew up his home in Edgewood, outside Pittsburgh, PA, on Saturday, same day his his daughter was getting married, in an apparent suicide. His body was recovered from the rubble police said
A Pennsylvania man blew up his home on his daughter’s wedding day in an apparent suicide, police revealed after his body was recovered from the rubble.
Neighbors said they saw the homeowner, John Evans standing outside of his house in the Pittsburgh suburb of Edgewood shortly before an explosion tore through the structure at about 2.30pm Saturday.
For several hours the homeowner remained unaccounted for as emergency crews contained the fire that broke out after the blast.
The home at 318 Garland St ultimately collapsed and officials brought in heavy equipment to sift through the wreckage, where they found the body.
The death of Evans was ruled a suicide.
‘This gentleman apparently had some personal issues and we’ve had information from neighbors that would indicate that there’s a great potential here that he would have blown the house up,’ Edgewood Police Chief Robert Payne told reporters, per KDKA.
‘It looks like he may have been able to disconnect the gas line itself in the basement of the house and of course it wouldn’t take much but a spark to explode the house after that.’
Other members of the Evans family were attending the wedding of one of their daughters, Lauren Evans [photo], when the explosion occurred
Emergency crews responded to a 911 call about the explosion just before 2.30pm Saturday. Authorities suspect it was a case of deliberate arson
The homeowner’s body was found in the rubble. Police his death a suicide
Many members of the victim’s family were out of the house for the wedding at the time of the explosion and resulting fire.
‘It’s my understanding that his family had a wedding today, and that most of the family was out of the house, but we have witnesses that indicate they saw him near the house just before the explosion,’ Chief Payne said.
Police said they had been called to the home for domestic issues relating to mental illness in the past.
The fire was deemed suspicious early on because Payne said there was ‘no reason for this particular house to go up. There’s no gas issues here’.
He added: ‘We’ve been here before, we know who this gentleman is, and I’ll leave it at that.’
The home at 318 Garland St is seen before the explosion in an undated Google street view
Neighbors said they felt the powerful blast from several houses down.
Residents in neighboring homes were ordered to evacuate on Saturday night as a bomb squad was brought in to investigate the homeowner’s car.
He had apparently left his cellphone on the vehicle’s windshield, ‘which is kind of odd, and so that troubles us’, Payne had said earlier in the day.
Donna Antolovich, who lives on Garland Street, said she felt the explosion shake her house.
‘We came outside to see what was going on, and the house was in flames — still standing — but in flames,’ she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
‘Three to five minutes before the house blew up, the owner was standing in front of it. After that, nobody could find him.’
Another neighbor, Dann Laudermilch, said he was working a few houses away when the explosion shook his home ‘fairly violently’.
He went outside where he saw another neighbor, Susan Irons, trying to get the attention of anyone inside the home by yelling, but no one responded to her.
‘I would say about 60 to 90 seconds after getting out here, the house just collapsed in one large movement with a lot of sound to it,’ Laudermilch told the Post-Gazette.
‘By that time it was fully in flames. It went up in flames remarkably fast. I thought it would take longer to burn, but it was like a minute and a half — it was crazy.’
Payne said the only injury reported was an Edgewood police office who is believed to have broken his wrist while assisting fire crews.
A home next to the blast site was also damaged. Neighbors said it had just been sold and a young family was due to move in any day.