The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Angry Employee, Plants an Explosive Under the Bedroom of Farm Owners: Possibly Because of the Death of a Horse

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Angry Employee, Plants an Explosive Under the Bedroom of Farm Owners: Possibly Because of the Death of a Horse

Benton, Louisiana — Horses grazed in a grassy pasture outside of Holly Hill Farm, showing no signs of a bombing that occurred three days ago — the result of an angry employee who may have been bearing a grudge.

Co-workers and neighbors say Douglas Holley, 54, of Benton, was a quiet man who kept to himself. No one thought he was capable of what police contend he carried out early Saturday: planting an explosive under the bedroom of farm owners Bobby and Tracy Hewlett.

"He was a strange man," neighbor Connie Pajeski said of Holley. "He was very intelligent, introverted. He liked animals more than people."

At a Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office media conference Monday afternoon, the Hewletts said Holley had developed a close connection with one horse in particular, named Charlie, who later became ill with colic and died six months before the bombing.

Bobby Hewlett, who works as a veterinarian in addition to owning Holly Hill Farm, said the horse had the serious condition for several days before Holley became aware of the problem. At that point, the veterinarian told Holley that the horse was suffering and probably would need to be put to sleep.

Holley protested, and Bobby Hewlett hooked the horse up to intravenous treatments — in vain.

To assuage Holley's grief, the Hewletts bought a memorial marker for the horse that read "Charlie: Doug's Beloved Friend." Work resumed as normal.

Holley retained his reputation as a handyman, always willing to help whomever needed his service.

That's why the explosion came as such a shock, said Ben Hudson, who worked with Holley both on Holly Hill Farm and the adjacent Newtown Farm.

"When I heard this, it blew my mind," Hudson said. "He was a fine fellow. If you asked for help, he would help you. He never seemed like he had a vendetta. But people called him a loner. He didn't keep company."

Hudson said Holley had told him about the horse's death, but when months passed, Hudson assumed Holley had come to terms and moved on. Holley also told Hudson that he wanted nothing to do with women or relationships, having been hurt by a woman in the past.

"He was a private guy," Hudson said. "He made his life his work."

Holley, 54, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of manufacturing a bomb after investigators found evidence of materials to create explosives inside of his house, located on the northwest Louisiana farm about 350 miles from New Orleans, as well as research and reading materials consistent with bomb-making. Holley initially was arrested Saturday on weapons charges and an outstanding Caddo Parish, La., warrant.

His past court records show nothing more serious than a few minor traffic citations.

Holley is being held at Bossier City Maximum Security Facility, said Bill Davis, Bossier Parish sheriff public information officer. Bond has been set at more than $6 million and no arraignment date has been set.
"There were items that were consistent with bomb-making materials in the house," Davis said of the investigation into Holley's residence. "The reality is that anyone could learn how to do that. The sad reality is that someone would carry it out."

Barbara and George Newton, who live next door to Holly Hill farm, said when they met Holley he seemed pleasant and personable. He demonstrated a clear love for horses and the work he did for the farm.

George Newton said the couple knew about the death of Holley's beloved horse.

"It was going to be a $10,000 operation. Bobby was a realist about this. This guy wasn't. The horse was a friend," Newton said. "He had a horse he cared a lot about. And it died. And the person who was there when the horse died was Dr. Hewlett."

At the conference, Bobby Hewlett said he thought Holley blamed himself for the horse's death but couldn't bear the guilt of that responsibility — so Holley transferred the blame to him.

"He was always blaming someone. I became the object, something he obsessed over for months," Bobby Hewlett said. "I don't think either of us is mad at Doug. We're just disappointed."

Until the explosion, the Hewletts said they had a good relationship with Holley and considered him a friend. Holley ate Christmas dinner with them last year, and the Hewletts had provided him with housing and a car for the first six months of his four-year employment at the farm.

Tracy Hewlett said he always was very polite.

Tracy Hewlett said Holley had mentioned listening to right-wing radio and being anti-government to her daughter, but the couple was shocked that his actions took such an extreme turn.

"It was pretty overwhelming when I found out, but then I looked around and saw my family and everyone supporting us here and the outpouring of love," Tracy Hewlett said.

Despite the circumstances, the Hewletts consider themselves blessed and have no plans to stop being trusting and open.

"This was a miracle we survived an explosion in our house. It was divine intervention. It wasn't our time, and there's a reason for that," Tracy Hewlett said. "We're going to make the best of this Christmas season."


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