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Woman, son arrested on bomb-making, pot charges

October 8, 2009 |  5:11 pm


By all appearances, Rebecca Kuzelka used her home to operate a child day-care business on a quiet, tree-lined street in Lake Elsinore. But a different picture of the 55-year-old mother emerged today after her home was rocked by an explosion late Wednesday night.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies arrested Kuzelka and her 21-year-old son, Grey, this morning on suspicion of using their home to make bombs and grow marijuana. Another son, Benjamin Kuzelka, 23, injured one hand in the explosion and was hospitalized. Authorities said he also would be arrested when he is released.

Benjamin Kuzelka allegedly was making an explosive device when it accidentally detonated about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, deputies said. He suffered an injury to one hand. About 20 minutes later, deputies said, he showed up at a local hospital saying that he had accidentally shot himself with a gun.

"His injuries were inconsistent with a gunshot wound and doctors called the police," said Deputy Melissa Nieburger, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.

Deputies went to the Kuzelka home on a cul-de-sac in the 30500 block of Audelo Street. Property records list Rebecca Kuzelka as the sole owner of the house, which was built in 1983.

Inside the home, Nieburger said, deputies found materials used to make explosives, as well as a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing room.

Authorities did not say how many marijuana plants allegedly were found in the home or disclose the type of explosive materials that were uncovered. A  law enforcement source told The Times that substances found at the home were similar to acetone peroxide, or TATP, the same type of powerful explosive used in the 2007 London subway terrorist bombings. There was no evidence that the Lake Elsinore incident was related to terrorism, the source said.

Nieburger said deputies had not determined how many children Rebecca Kuzelka cared for at her home. No children were present at the time of the explosion, authorities said.

Rebecca and Grey Kuzelka were booked on suspicion of manufacturing of explosives, cultivating marijuana and felony child endangerment, Neiburger said, adding that Benjamin Kuzelka would be booked on the same charges when he gets out of the hospital.

—Robert J. Lopez

Photo: The Kuzelka residence on Audelo Street in Lake Elsinore was the scene of a criminal investigation after Benjamin Kuzelka, 23, injured himself while apparently handling explosives.

Credit: Axel Koester / For The Times