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No Motives, No Suspects in Fatal Package Bombing

March 20, 1990

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Police and federal agents hunted for clues Tuesday in the wreckage of an apartment where a shoebox-size package bomb killed a 70-year-old man wintering in Florida with his family.

Sherwin William Finlay, a boating enthusiast from Missouri, was killed when a package left at the door of his rented apartment exploded when he picked it up, said Sgt. Steve Weintraub of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Finlay had just moved to the apartment about a week before with his 67- year-old wife, Dorothy, and daughter Gay Lynn Meek, 35, who were not injured. They said they had no idea why anyone would want to kill Finlay.

Investigators do not believe the explosion is related to recent mail bombings that killed two people in Alabama, Georgia and Jacksonville.

The blast Monday was powerful enough to blow out the roof overhang of the two-story apartment building.

Willi Ellison, agent in charge of the Jacksonville office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the bomb was ″more or less a homemade device.″ Its remains were to be sent to the ATF laboratory in Atlanta for analysis, he said.

All 10 agents at his office were investigating the bombing, along with the sheriff’s office, he said.

″We want to find out who committed this crime,″ Ellison said.

The brown-paper package was not delivered by the U.S. Post Office as were package bombs that killed a federal appeals court judge, Robert Vance, and Savannah, Ga., alderman Robert Robinson last December, Ellison said.

″At this point, I don’t think there is a connection but we’re looking into all aspects,″ Ellison said.

Unlike the bombs that killed Vance and Robinson, the device did not contain nails as shrapnel, he said. Shrapnel devices also were sent to the Jacksonville office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, but both were disarmed.

The family is from Gravois Mills, Mo., where Finlay worked for the Missouri Highway Department for 20 years before retiring 10 years ago.

A friend, Bryan Taylor, said he and Finlay had sailed together for more than two decades as members of the Lake of the Ozarks Yachting Association. Taylor described him as an unlikely target and said the Finlays had planned a boat trip through the Intracoastal Waterway to Jacksonville, where their son, Doug, is a boat salesman.

Weintraub said the couple had been in Jacksonville since Dec. 1. They moved into the apartment complex about a week ago, and neighbors knew little about them.

The FBI is monitoring the case, said George Wisnovsky, an agency spokesman.

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