Aspen's latest strange crime makes news the Wild West way

Aspen at nightHats across the west are off to the Aspen Police Department and their handling of a bomber who threatened local banks with homemade gasoline explosives. On New Year's Eve, 72-year-old James Blanning, presented notes to local tellers demanding 60,000 in cash or there would be "mass death" and everyone would "pay a horrible price in blood."


Bank employees notified authorities, Blanning's efforts were stalled, and he was later found dead in his car due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Interruption to business
Police, before detonating the wrapped bombs placed in plastic tubs that Blanning was dragging from bank to bank, decided to evacuate a large part of the commercial district. No one was injured during the entire event. Many reports are now circulating that residents are still upset due to the interruption to business on one of the busiest days of the year.

Aspen can now almost fill a FOX special
Those businesses will recover, but what about Aspen? As a signature Colorado community, someone is going to ask the question why it attracts so many bizarre crimes. From Claudine Longet's murder of Spider Sabich to this latest geriatric bombspree, the former home of Hunter S. Thompson certainly plays by different rules.

Just a year ago, the former police chief resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, which came a year after his staff had tasered a 63-yr-old homeless woman. Nine years ago, the town was terrorized over eight months by a band of armed robbers. One of the ringleaders of that band was later discovered to be the Aspen Mayor's son.

Town's per capita crime stats could use attention reports that while violent crime is slightly below the state average, property crime is over double the state average. And crimes per square mile are now at 121, while the national median is 49. Overall, Aspen is rated a 5 out of a maximum 100 on the scale of safest places to live.

Aspen, for its great snow and rowdy X-games, is racking up a true wild-west rep. But even with bombs wrapped as Christmas presents, no one was hurt this weekend, and it will make an interesting vacation story to tell.