Friends: Chicken Man planned home explosion

ROSWELL, Ga. — The Fulton County Medical examiner confirmed Tuesday that Roswell's so-called "Chicken Man" died in his home after causing it to explode Monday.

Fire investigators said Andrew Wordes, 53, doused his home in gasoline and set it on fire with a Channel 2 Action News crew just feet away.

Wordes called Channel 2's Mike Petchenik moments before the explosion, but wouldn't tell him what he planned to do.

"It ain't pretty, though," he told Petchenik.

Friends told Petchenik Wordes had been planning the act for weeks.

"He told me he would do this," friend Patti Silva said. "He wasn't leaving his house."

Silva told Petchenik she and others tried to get Wordes help after he learned Fulton County marshals would be coming to evict him. His Alpine Drive home was in foreclosure.

"This was a man who was broken," Silva said. "It was hard for him to help himself."

Silva said she contacted the City of Roswell to alert them to Wordes' threats.

"My intention, my hope, in contacting the City of Roswell was that they'd realize this man had mental illness and that they would have taken care of him," she said.

Friend Michael Martin told Petchenik that Wordes have given him an ominous warning about three weeks ago.

"He had made a comment: 'When I go out, it's gonna be with a bang,'" Martin said. "Lo and behold, that's exactly what he did."

Friend Jere Brower told Petchenik Wordes was an animal lover who always gave of himself to others without question.

"This city is less bright now without this man walking with us," he said.

Brower blamed Wordes' ongoing battles with the City of Roswell for pushing his good friend over the edge.

In 2009, Wordes took the city to court over citations for raising chickens in his back yard and prevailed. Then, after the September 2009 rains flooded his back yard and his home, the city cited him for grading his property without a permit.

Last summer, Wordes spent three months in the city jail for failing to complete the community service that was his punishment for the citations.

"To see the bullying they did to this man, it was uncalled for," said Brower. "It makes me ashamed to admit that I'm from Roswell."

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood disputed that accusation and said the city was saddened by what happened.

"You always wonder if more could have been done, but I don't know what that could have been," Wood said. "Andrew made his own choices."

Roswell Fire Chief Ricky Spencer told Petchenik he had received information about Wordes' threat, but that he discounted it as not being credible information.

Roswell Police Lt. James McGee told Petchenik the department received similar information and passed it along to the Fulton County marshals before they carried out the eviction orders.

Wordes' attorney, Ryan Strickland, said he was in downtown Atlanta trying to halt the eviction when he learned of the explosion.

"It's a complete tragedy," he said.

Strickland sent Petchenik a brief he filed, which claims the foreclosure of Wordes' home was illegal because it didn't include contact information for the mortgage lender.

"The very simple process of notifying the homeowner that his home would be foreclosed was not done properly as we alleged in our brief," said Strickland, who told Petchenik Wordes hired him just last week, after he'd learned marshals were coming to evict him.

Strickland said the sad reality is that Wordes still had options and didn't have to take such drastic action.

"This was just the beginning," he said. "This was part of the larger legal strategy that were just making first step in to help him get back his home."

Strickland told Petchenik he was in constant contact with Wordes as marshals waited outside to evict him and never had any idea Wordes was going to blow up the house.

"I didn't have any indication he was going to do something to hurt himself or anybody else," Strickland said. "I knew that he was completely stressed out by the situation, but that's not uncommon."