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Witnesses defend suspects in Manitou Springs home explosion

Neighbor, guest dispute police discovery of hash oil

Witnesses Defend Suspects in Manitou Home Explosion

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Friends of a man and woman arrested after a Friday morning explosion at a Manitou Springs home said the suspects are innocent of any illegal activity.

Audrey Horowitz, 23, and Michael Austin, 18, are free on bond after police took them into custody on suspicion of arson, reckless endangerment and child abuse.  Horowitz' 3-year-old daughter also was inside the home at 337 Pilot Knob Ave. at the time of the explosion.

No one was hurt in the incident that occurred around 4:30 a.m.

Victoria Sedelmeyer said she also was inside the home, visiting the family at the time.

"We had all gone to bed," she said.  "It was crazy.  The door fell on the baby.  The door blew off the fridge.  It was like a pressure kind of release in the kitchen.  It wasn't a fiery explosion.  There was no fire, no combustion.  I don't know what it was from."

Although police said investigators found evidence consistent with hash oil manufacturing, Sedelmeyer has her doubts.

Explosions can result when marijuana users try to extract potent oil from the drug at home laboratories.

"If it was a (true) explosion like people said, someone would have been hurt," she said.  "The baby was sleeping right next to where it all happened and she wasn't hurt."

Xavier Castillo, a neighbor, said the suspects moved in earlier this month and that he didn't know them well.  He spoke well of Austin.

"I like (Austin)," Castillo said.  "He's actually a lot better person than people say.  he actually has a really kind heart."

Neighbors and friends gathered at the home Saturday, cleaning up debris from the explosion. 

Sedelmeyer said the suspects are staying elsewhere for now, and the daughter "is being taken care of."

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