AIKENS TRIAL: Aikens downloaded bomb making cookbook on phone ahead of Alexandria explosion

Continuing coverage (day 4) of the Daniel Aikens trial, the man arrested after a Jan. 2, 2020 explosion outside of PayDay Today on MacArthur Drive.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 3:23 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2022 at 4:40 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Continuing coverage (day 4) of the Daniel Aikens trial, the man arrested after a Jan. 2, 2020 explosion outside of PayDay Today on MacArthur Drive.

Part I - 3:15 p.m.

An expert in cellphone forensics with Louisiana State Police, who did a data dump of an iPhone and Android phone that accused bomber Daniel Aikens owned, found some questionable searches and downloads.

The two phones were seized after the Jan. 2, 2020 pipe bomb explosion outside PayDay Today on MacArthur Drive in Alexandria - federal investigators tracked Aikens down as a suspect.

What’s known as the “bomber phone” was never recovered, but State Police were able to get some info off the phone with the help of AT&T. The name of who purchased that phone and their address wasn’t recovered - only that it was purchased at a Dollar General, but no specifics as to which one.

J.D. Parker with Louisiana State Police told the jury that on Sept. 8, 2019, Aikens downloaded on his Android a bomb-making “cookbook.” That same day, he downloaded a how-to guide to build a pressure cooker bomb. That’s important because four days later he’s also accused of setting off a pressure cooker bomb in Monroe outside Cloyd’s Beauty School.

“It’s a bomb-making cookbook,” said Parker. “It gives you different types of ways to make different devices.”

Aikens also had some interesting searches that State Police found on his Android - including a search for “Southern Heritage Bank” on December 20, 2019 and a search for “PayDay Today” on December 30, 2019. A pipe bomb went off in a field between a Texaco and Southern Heritage Bank on Jackson Street in Alexandria on December 20, 2019. Another pipe bomb went off outside of PayDay Today on January 2, 2020.

We also learned about some cellphone tracking data.

Parker said on December 20, 2019, at 10 a.m. - one hour before the device exploded in the Jackson Street field - the “bomb threat phone” called Southern Heritage Bank. At 11:05 a.m., the “bomb threat phone” made a call to 911 to report the blast. GPS data put Aikens’ iPhone in the same area at the same time.

State Police also tracked a series of movements Aikens’ iPhone made the day before on December 19, 2019 - starting with stops in Lafayette at Home Depot, Academy and Hobby Lobby. Federal investigators believe Aikens was buying bomb-making materials. That iPhone ends up in the area of a Dollar General on Horseshoe Drive that night - where investigators believe Aikens bought the burner “bomb threat phone.”

Data shows Aikens driving back to his home on Tennessee Avenue, and that same evening in the same vicinity, the “bomb threat phone” activates for the first time.

On the day of the pipe bomb explosion outside of PayDay Today on January 2, 2020, the “bomb threat phone” called the office at 9:45 a.m. The phone communicated with the victim up until shortly before 10 a.m. when it went completely dark - meaning it was turned off or the sim card was pulled.

Part II - 4:30 p.m.

A former acquaintance of Daniel Aikens told a federal jury that he was with Aikens in Monroe two weeks before a bomb exploded outside of Cloyd’s Beauty School on September 12, 2019, and he watched Aikens put a pressure cooker in the woods outside a Piggly Wiggly.

Aikens pleaded “not guilty” to a series of federal charges related to an explosion outside an Alexandria loan company and the possession of a destructive device. He’s accused of demanding $10,000 from PayDay Today after setting off the explosion on January 2, 2020.

Investigators said they linked him to the blast by tracing a phone number they believed he called from on a burner phone that they believe he purchased the previous month at a Dollar General.

This witness said Aikens told him he had an idea to make money and “he wanted to scare people.” The witness said Aikens told him he wanted to get a phone and drop it at a door, then call it - and when a person answered, set off an explosion. The witness told Aikens he was “crazy.”

The witness said one night Aikens picked him up and took him to a Piggly Wiggly parking lot that was situated across the street from a bank, and he watched him put a pressure cooker in the woods that was attached to some fishing line.

Two weeks later, the witness learned of the pressure cooker bomb at the beauty school on the news and texted Aikens to tell him he made the news.

Aikens is represented by federal public defenders Natalie Awad and Wayne Blanchard. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamilla Bynog, Daniel McCoy, and LaDonte Murphy are prosecuting for the government. Judge Dee Drell is presiding.

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