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Roswell 'Chicken Man' blows up house, himself to avoid eviction

Roswell's Chicken Man, Andrew Wordes, shown here in August 2011, took Roswell to task in an effort to keep his flock of birds, primarily chickens. Witnesses say he blew himself and his home up Monday March 26 when county marshals tried to forcibly evict him. Jonathan Copsey. (click for larger version)
March 26, 2012
ROSWELL, Ga. Rather than be evicted, Roswell's "Chicken Man" Andrew Wordes took extreme measures March 26 when he blew up his own house with himself inside.

Witnesses said at about 12:45 p.m., Fulton County Marshals came to the Alpine Drive home to evict Wordes. Wordes allegedly told everyone to get back before an explosion rocked the home.

Witness Lee Hollingsworth said at about 1 p.m., he heard an explosion within the home that blew the roof "a foot into the air and all the windows blew out."

Wordes Alpine Drive home was engulfed in flames Monday afternoon, after he allegedly doused it in gasoline. The home was destroyed and Wordes presumed dead. Maggie Bean/Special. (click for larger version)
"It was very scary," said another witness, Maggie Bean. "Andrew asked if everyone was away from the house and then said something to the effect of 'it ain't going to be pretty.'"

Bean said she saw a large puff of smoke come from the garage before flames erupted, engulfing the front of the home.

Fire crews arrived at the home within five minutes of the initial 911 call, which was made by one of the marshals, said Roswell Fire Chief Ricky Spencer, however firefighters did not try and enter the home.

"We did not attempt to go into the house immediately, because the fire was underway," Spencer said. "About 75 percent of the house was in flames."

Roswell emergency crews sealed off Alpine Drive, just south of Holcomb Bridge on Ga. 9, after Wordes detonated some explosive in his home, killing himself. Jonathan Copsey.
In total, Spencer said it took 21 firefighters with four engines 30 minutes to extinguish the flames.

Police Chief Dwayne Orrick said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sent agents to the scene to search for possible explosives; however he said none were found. Reports of a second device were unfounded, Spencer said.

Roswell Police Spokesman Lt. James McGee said fire crews extinguished the fire by about 2 p.m. and had found a body. They are not willing to identify it yet. The body was taken to the Fulton County Coroner.

Wordes, an outspoken gun and property rights advocate, first gained notoriety in 2009 fighting city ordinances that would not allow him to continue raising chickens, turkeys and other fowl on his property. Represented by former Gov. Roy Barnes, Wordes since dubbed the "Chicken Man" won the right to keep his more than 100 birds.

A subsequent city ordinance to limit Wordes' fowl was thrown out by Roswell Judge Maurice Hilliard when the judge ruled he was grandfathered in. But then Wordes began to run into troubles on other fronts. He was stopped by police coming home from a Roswell City Council meeting in December 2009 for a traffic violation and driving on a suspended license.

In 2010, he was cited for a nuisance by city code enforcement for having seven or eight inoperable automobiles on his property, apparently with the intent to repair them and sell them. Then, Wordes violated sediment and erosion ordinances when he did some grading on the property that city authorities said damaged a nearby stream.

Wordes pleaded guilty, had the cars removed and the property repaired. As part of a plea agreement, Wordes agreed to a one-year probation. He was fined $2,000, but was allowed to do 180 hours of community service instead.

Wordes had long maintained he was the subject of a vendetta by the city. When his violations caused liens to be placed against his property, the city notified the holder of his mortgage. That mortgage was sold and the new holder filed for foreclosure of the property.

In July, Wordes found most of his birds had been poisoned. At least 60 animals died from the mystery ailment.

At court Aug. 10, 2011, Hilliard found Wordes in violation of his probation agreement and sentenced Wordes to three months in jail. When he was released, he found his home vandalized and burgled, and accused the city of not protecting it better. Missing were several weapons.

The trail of legal problems culminated Monday when Wordes was to be forcibly evicted from his home.

"I feel sorry for the guy," Bean said. "It's just a sad situation."

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Tags: Crime, Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    March 26, 2012 | 05:51 PM

    The whole story is not told. The city wanted his property for the 2030 city plan. They flooded his property that is why he built a burm to stop the water. The city was suppose to file papers with Fema so Andrew could get money and the city never did. The city has much to hide and will now have blood on their hands. Andrew was a great person and loved showing children how to have chickns and would give you the shirt off his back. The city had a plan and Andrew was in the way....who is next? Agenda 21 at its finest.

    Port Saint Lucie
  2. report print email
    March 26, 2012 | 07:00 PM

    This is not surprising where fascism is imposed in the name of conformity. Welcome to Roswell, where rights and legal protections are only available to a select, elite few. Those who don't "fit in" will not be tolerated. Those who stand in the way of the wealthy becoming wealthier have no rights here. Move along, people. Gawk, or dare to comment, and you'll be arrested too.

    K. Mac
  3. report print email
    March 26, 2012 | 07:55 PM

    I just learned about this terrible situation today after hearing about the explosion. The city of Roswell is NOT blameless in this. It seems clear they WERE after the land. The man had 3 feet of water flooding his house when 2 inches of rain would fall nearby, due to overdevelopment nearby that was forcing the river over its banks in a way it had not previously gone. So he has a choice, try to grade the home so that it will not flood next time there is a little rain, or do nothing; he tried to protect the home. Meanwhile, the city spends 250 thousand dollars fighting legal battles against this guy? What is the motivation? Answer: the land.
    Hey Roswell, your officials are not representing you. They do this to him, they'll do it to you, too, next. Better vote out the people responsible and keep a real tight eye on the voting machines and software. Real easy to hack and it's happening, so get citizen observers on it if you want election integrity and representation. RIP Andrew Wordes

    Cindi Burkey
    Los Angeles
  4. report print email
    Blame Roswell? No. Blame politicians.
    March 27, 2012 | 11:43 PM

    This is the mighty power of government, folks. Move along. Nothing to see here. You people keep electing politicians from local to current guy in the White House that are addicted to power grabs and taking whatever they want by force if necessary. That also includes mandating you be a part of something by force if necessary like what the Supreme Court is debating right now with Obamacare.

    You people that have supported and continue to support big government politicians who meddle in our private lives are ultimately responsible for this. For those of you who say private enterprise and private property rights are bad and that government is our savior and our answer to our ills, this guy's blood is on YOUR hands.

  5. report print email
    Roswell City Solicitor Milton Barwick
    March 29, 2012 | 09:20 PM

    I'd like to know what role Roswell's elected city solicitor, Milton Barwick, played in all this - both officially and behind the scenes. Does anyone know?

    Allen Goodwin
  6. report print email
    March 30, 2012 | 07:40 AM

    Real crimes, real "bad guys", real problems..... and yet you find an eccentric little man and his chickens to prosecute..... no wonder we have such an overwhelming epidemic of bullying in schools these days. I hope you are NOT proud of what you have done.

    Meg Harrison
  7. report print email
    March 30, 2012 | 09:41 PM

    There is a post-mortem article scheduled in this Sunday's AJC which will expose the City of Roswell's culpability in Andrew's death

    Lee Fleck
    Shameful Roswell
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