Pipe bomb disguised as chocolates sends woman to hospital

A seemingly anonymous gift left on the front porch of a Houston home owned by an oil company executive has the city's affluent population of oil profiteers on edge this weekend, after that package exploded and seriously injured a 62-year-old woman.

Neighbors of the victim told an ABC News affiliate in Houston that the bomb was disguised as a box of chocolates in a gift bag, left on the home's doorstep around Thursday.

Instead, it contained what authorities described as a pipe bomb carrying a load of thumb tacks and nails. When she opened the package on Friday evening, standing on her back porch around 6:30, it resulted in shrapnel embedded across the woman's face -- injuries police said were not life-threatening.

"It wasn't immediately clear whether the house was targeted, however, Eyewitness News found out the home is owned by an oil company executive," the ABC affiliate further noted.

Police refused to release the victim's name and none of the area media stated who the home belongs to or which oil company employs that individual.

However, an examination of the homefront shown on local news reports correlated to images featured on Google Street View. A series of basic searches across a publicly available property database revealed the home's owner to be James Brock Moore III, president of Adams Resources Exploration Corporation (AREC). A separate name listed on the home's appraisal record, one Vennie Wolf, may or may not be the bomb's victim.

The company brags on its Web site that it successfully "exploited" the "Austin chalk," which is a geological formation that's proved tricky to drill under due to its fractured oil and gas stocks. Many companies have adopted advanced horizontal drilling techniques to conquer the chalk and penetrate even deeper into underground Texas mineral reserves. AREC says its areas of interest stretch along the Gulf coast from south Texas all the way to Alabama.

No further details could be confirmed at time of this writing.

Neighbors described the bomb's detonation as sounding similar to a transformer blowing out. One man, Dennis McCoy, who spoke to Houston's KHOU 11 News, claimed to have been asked by the woman if he'd left a box of candies on her doorstep. The box apparently carried a simple note saying, "Thank you."

Initial online speculation centered on whether the bombing may be a targeted hit on someone associated with embattled oil company BP, which is currently held as responsible for the worst environmental accident in humanity's history. A connection of that nature is at least not immediately apparent. Such speculation would appear to be driven only by police refusal to release the victim's name and local media's reticence to give a precise address.

Local reports said that the package note also carried the woman's name, except misspelled.

"I can't believe anyone would do something as terrible and tragic to a person like this lady," Karen Gennity, a neighbor, told ABC 13.

This video is from Houston's ABC 13, broadcast Saturday, July 10, 2010.