A GBI bomb technician said a suspicious package found on the front door of the Trion Masonic Lodge Monday was not a bomb.
Although the package was not explosive, Trion Police Chief Jason Kellett said the items left at the lodge’s door were odd.
Laying on the ground was a Masonic edition of the Holy Bible. Stacked on top of the Bible was a leather-covered copy of the Islamic bible and then on top of it a black cigar box.
The items were first spotted by Trion employee Cliff Cordle when he was making rounds on the town’s garbage truck.
“He looked over there on the front porch and saw something sitting there,” Chief Kellett said.
A couple of members of the Trion lodge were called and told about the package left outside. A lodge member called Chief Kellett and asked if he could put it inside the lodge for safekeeping.
The chief immediately noticed the odd combination of the Bible and Quran lying underneath the unopened cigar box.
“It looks like someone decided to leave a random donation. But I did not want to take a chance. I did not want a cigar box blowing up in my face,” Chief Kellett said.
Several lodge members were called and no one knew anything about the gifts.
“First. It was odd that someone left them on the front entrance. If you worried about someone stealing
something, you don’t leave it out on the front porch. It was easily viewed from the street,” Chief Kellett said.
With none of the lodge members knowing it’s origin, Chief Kellett said that was also suspicious. It also did not have a name or letter with it.
“Erring on the side of caution, we back off,” Chief Kellett said.
GBI Special Agent Joe Montgomery, who has extensive training with explosive devices was called for his opinion.
“You hate to call in the cavalry if you don’t need them. But Joe said we did the right thing by calling him,” Chief Kellett said.
The police blocked the street in front of the lodge and waited until GBI Agent Montgomery arrived.
The GBI agent used a mobile x-ray device to look inside the cigar box. The x-ray showed a second smaller box inside. They could also see what they thought were coins or washers and assembly screws.
After the x-ray did not detect any explosive material, the GBI agent continued to use caution. They placed a cord on the bigger box’s lid with a piece of sticky paper, Chief Kellett said. The cord was then stretched around the corner of the building where the agent pulled and toppled the larger cigar box until it fell open.
They found the smaller box had an engraving of Buddha on the top. Inside it were a few wheat back pennies, steel nickels and other current coins, Chief Kellett said.
Officers then closely examined the books. The Holy Bible was dedicated on March 13, 1975 to someone named “Rynne.” The Quran had someone’s name also scribbled on it. But on the outside was stamped in black, “Property of Chatham County Jail.”
Other than these names, investigators still had no leads.
The lodge met Monday night for a regular service and members were asked if they knew who dropped the items off. No one did, Chief Kellett said.
With no one coming forth to claim the items, Kellett said it still puzzles him.
“I would like to think it was just nothing [someone donating the items to the lodge]. . . But this has been nagging at me since,” Chief Kellett said.