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Accused Bucks County bomber’s girlfriend charged with aiding him

Tina Smith, 31, is accused of helping her boyfriend detonate homemade bombs throughout upper Bucks County.

David Surman Jr.. seen here after his arraignment in June, has been charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction and related offenses in connection to a series of explosions earlier this month in Bucks County.
David Surman Jr.. seen here after his arraignment in June, has been charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction and related offenses in connection to a series of explosions earlier this month in Bucks County.Read moreWilliam Thomas Cain

When the FBI found an explosive device in upper Bucks County that detonated under a public works employee's lawnmower in May, David Surman Jr. and Tina Smith shared a laugh.

"The feds took the mower on Milford," Surman texted Smith, court records show.

"That's so … funny," Smith replied.

That message came to light Friday, when Smith, 31, was charged with conspiracy to possess or manufacture a weapon of mass destruction, along with reckless endangerment and related offenses.

She is accused of helping Surman, her longtime boyfriend, distribute and detonate a series of homemade explosives in Bucks County that accounted for a rash of early morning blasts in the northern, rural part of the county.

Surman, 30, was arrested in June after a raid on his home and nearby chemical company turned up five improvised explosive devices, including one that was 18 inches long.

Previously, prosecutors said Smith was cooperating with the investigation, and one of Surman's bail conditions in his arrest was to avoid contact with Smith, who lived with him in a house in Quakertown.

On Wednesday, Surman, 30, was brought up on child-pornography charges after investigators discovered graphic images and videos on his hard drive while serving a search warrant for evidence connected to the explosions.

He is free on bail in both cases, facing a preliminary hearing on the child pornography on Nov. 30, and a trial in the explosions in February, court records show.

District Judge Regina Armitage on Friday set Smith's bail at 10 percent of $1 million, an amount owed to the danger prosecutors said she poses to the community. Smith faces a preliminary hearing in the case on Oct. 23.

Assistant District Attorney Antonetta Stancu said the ongoing investigation into the explosions determined that Surman and Smith were linked to at least seven blast sites throughout the county, and that there may be additional, unexploded devices hidden in the area that the two are aware of.

Stancu also asked for, and was granted, electronic monitoring of Smith, so authorities can ensure that she doesn't return to previous blast sites.

Smith's attorney, Robert Goldman, argued that the notion his client is a danger to the community is just "hype" by prosecutors, and that she poses no flight risk.

He said that Surman's mother, Kathy L. Surman, would likely post Smith's bail, and that she has no issues with abiding by the other terms of the bail order, which include continued avoidance of Surman and no contact with chemicals.

Since his arrest, Surman has been living with nearby relatives, according to prosecutors.

Smith first came to authorities' attention in June, when a state trooper pulled over her Ford Explorer in Lehigh County as it fled the scene of one of the then-unexplained blasts. More than 20 explosions had been reported by residents between April and May, usually in the overnight hours in sparsely populated, remote areas.

In the SUV's passenger seat sat Surman, who "appeared overtly nervous" as he answered the trooper's questions during the 4 a.m. car stop, according to a search warrant filed in the case. The two claimed to have heard a loud noise as they were driving home from work in nearby Spinnerstown, but said they wrote it off as something that Smith had hit with her Explorer.

After that encounter, local, state, and federal authorities probing the case began to watch Surman and Smith. Investigators reviewed surveillance in the area, and found footage that had captured a car resembling Smith's SUV fleeing the scene of another blast site a week before the trooper pulled the vehicle over.

As the probe continued, investigators noted that Surman owned Consolidated Chemicals and Solvents, a company that sold many of the same compounds detected in the soil where the explosions took place.

Two weeks after the encounter with the trooper, Surman was arrested, charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, reckless endangerment, and related offenses.  Police found five explosives, as well as firearms and methamphetamine, inside the home he shared with Smith in Quakertown.

They also recovered a notebook filled with bizarre drawings, one of which was a computer-generated cartoon showing Surman and Smith fleeing from a mushroom cloud while laughing. Their likenesses had been superimposed over a picture of a Ford Explorer.

Another notebook found in the home contained "hand-drawn and graphic image depictions of the explosion sites," some of which were initialed by Surman, according to a warrant filed in Smith's arrest.

Police also recovered images from Smith's cell phone, taken in April, that showed 10 explosive devices similar to the ones recovered from Surman and Smith's home. Smith's phone also contained a photo of an apparent explosion site in Bucks County.

Smith was interviewed the day of Surman's arrest, telling investigators that she was with him on three occasions when he "lit something with a lighter and threw it out the window of a vehicle," according to the affidavit of probable cause for her arrest.

She told investigators that she frequently drove Surman around and that they sometimes returned to the area where explosions had occurred.