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.”
“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.”
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.”