School: Car bombing victims expected to recover

Associated Press
A car burns on E. Elm Ave. near I-75 Tuesday Sept. 20, 2011 in Monroe, Mich. after it exploded as it was being driven by a man and his two sons. A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Wednesday said a car bomb caused the blast that seriously injured the occupants. (AP Photo/The Monroe Evening News, David Zewicky)
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MONROE, Mich. (AP) — A woman whose husband and two sons were injured when their car was destroyed by a bomb says all three of her family members are doing well and expected to fully recover, the principal of the boys' school said.

In a letter to parents posted Wednesday on the St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School website, Principal Michelle Sontag said she has spoken twice to Maureen Chappell since the explosion on a Monroe street that injured Chappell's husband and sons, who are students at the school.

About 200 students from three Catholic schools attended a prayer service at St. Michael the Archangel Church on Thursday for the two brothers.

News media were not allowed inside the church in Monroe, 35 miles south of Detroit.

Sontag told reporters Thursday that eighth-grader Grant Chappell and sixth-grader Cole Chappell are doing well at a hospital that she declined to disclose.

Sontag said the boys do not have burns and have been asking for their homework.

"She is protecting them as she should — that's what mothers do," Sontag said. "She's not saying too much, only to let me know that they are being cared for well and that she is looking for strength from the Catholic community."

The boys and their father, attorney Erik Chappell, 42, were riding in a Volvo when a bomb on the car exploded Tuesday. In a letter on the school's website, Sontag said the family expects a full recovery.

Police said the three were rushed to a hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Spokeswoman Sarah Bednarski at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center said they were not taken there. Spokeswoman Tedra White at ProMedica Toledo Hospital would not say whether the Chappell boys were being treated at the facility.

"I do not have any information for you," White said in an email.

Messages left with law enforcement to seek clarification were not immediately returned.

Investigators were following up numerous leads on Thursday, but hadn't identified a suspect or determined whether Erik Chappell, who is a lawyer, or one of his family members was the intended target of the attack, Donald Dawkins, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told The Associated Press.

"We have no specific person of interest," Dawkins told reporters at a briefing Thursday afternoon.

Dawkins said there were "a lot of active leads" that agents were pursuing.

"We're following up on interviews today and interviews conducted yesterday. We hope to close in on something," he said. "Our concern is to get it right. We're focusing on personal and business associates, everything that may point us in the direction of what is going on."

Dawkins said investigators have not determined what type of device was used to blow up the car and were trying to find out how it was detonated.

Fragments of the bomb that turned the Chappell's Volvo into a blackened hulk of metal were being sent for forensic examination at the ATF's national laboratory in Washington, D.C., he said.

Erik Chappell's firm, Lyden Liebenthal & Chappell, Ltd., has made no public statements about the attack. Chappell's profile on the firm's website says he primarily handles business litigation in Ohio, Michigan and federal courts, but also handles family law and real estate law cases, as well as construction disputes.

Chappell's law partner, Jon Liebenthal, declined comment Thursday.

The Chappells live near Monroe in LaSalle Township, in a comfortable neighborhood on Lake Erie.

Sontag said fellow classmates are asking a great deal of questions about the Grant and Cole.

"I simply tell them that when they are ready, they'll be back," she said. "They are wonderful boys."

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Jeff Karoub reported from Detroit. Ed White contributed to this story.

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