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Posted on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Whitmore Lake pipe bomber sentenced to more than 8 years in prison

By Lee Higgins

Sandra Donovan still lives in fear 20 months after her neighbor's son, Christopher Bandy, detonated two pipe bombs in her chimney, causing an explosion that shook her Howell home.

“We were extremely fortunate that no one was hurt,” Donovan said during Bandy’s sentencing Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Detroit. “However, mentally we will never be the same ... We moved out to Howell because we thought it would be a safe community. We no longer feel safe anywhere.”

Bandy, 33 — who detonated seven pipe bombs at five homes in Whitmore Lake and Howell and admitted setting fire to a Milan home during a nine-month crime spree — was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison. He had pleaded guilty to manufacturing an unregistered firearm (pipe bomb) and possessing an unregistered firearm (pipe bomb). No one was injured during Bandy's crimes.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts ordered the sentence be followed by three years of supervised release and that Bandy pay more than $43,000 in restitution to the Donovans' insurance company to pay for damage to their home.

Prior to being sentenced, Bandy said, “I just want to apologize to everyone, your honor, for all the trouble I’ve caused and the pain I’ve caused.”

Under a plea agreement Bandy reached with federal prosecutors, three counts of possessing an unregistered firearm (pipe bomb) were dismissed.

Washtenaw County prosecutors already dropped charges against Bandy for setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s Milan home on April 24, 2009 to collect insurance money. The charges were dismissed in exchange for Bandy's cooperation, including testimony against his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Mapes, who was a co-conspirator. Mapes was sentenced on Oct. 14 by Washtenaw County Circuit Judge David Swartz to five years probation after pleading no contest to arson of an insured property.

Bandy has been detained since his July 7, 2009 arrest by ATF agents, who still don't know why he went on a pipe bombing spree. He apparently selected his victims at random.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Gabel, Bandy told investigators “the pipe bombings were part of an elaborate conspiracy to divert law enforcement’s attention so that he and his cohorts could rob banks.” But Bandy failed a polygraph and admitted he was lying, documents say.


Christopher Bandy

Under cross-examination during Mapes' preliminary hearing, Bandy admitted lying to numerous people and said he couldn't count how many times he lied to ATF Special Agent Ted Crews, who investigated the pipe bombings.

Bandy's pipe bombing spree began at about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 30, 2008, when he set off two pipe bombs outside an occupied Whitmore Lake home, the sentencing memorandum says. The first bomb detonated near the foundation, while the second detonated a few minutes later, damaging the side of the home and a nearby birdhouse. Investigators found fragments of the birdhouse 50 feet from the site of the second explosion, records show.

Bandy struck again six days later, documents say, setting off a pipe bomb at about 9:51 p.m. at an intersection at a Whitmore Lake trailer park. Shrapnel from the blast damaged the siding and wall of a home, records show.

Two weeks later, Bandy detonated a pipe bomb outside a vacant Whitmore Lake home at about 10:50 p.m., documents say. A woman walked onto her porch to see what was going on when a second pipe bomb detonated five minutes later, records show. She reported seeing a "blue explosion and lots of smoke coming from the backside of her residence," the memorandum says.

On April 3, 2009, Bandy took it to another level by placing two pipe bombs inside the air intake vent in the chimney of the Donovans' home in Howell, documents say. Sandra Donovan was sitting on a couch at about midnight, while her daughter was about to step into the shower upstairs and her husband and son were upstairs sleeping.

A loud explosion shook the house, she said, shattering a basement window and damaging the fireplace. Smoke filled the basement. ATF agents recovered portions of the pipe bomb and determined that Bandy purchased materials for it at a Brighton hardware store.

Donovan said after the hearing she has no idea why Bandy targeted her home.

“We can’t sleep,” she said. “Any car that goes by our house, we look out the window to make sure they keep going. The lights on the front are on all the time and then we’ll turn the big floodlights on.”

Sandra Donovan's husband, Thomas, told Judge Roberts it's prompted them to put their house on the market because Bandy's family has a house down the street.

"I don't want to be there when he gets out," he said.

Judge Roberts ordered Bandy be placed in a prison offering comprehensive mental health services. State Department of Corrections records show Bandy has prior convictions for breaking and entering, second-degree home invasion and receiving stolen property.

Roberts told Bandy he will have much of his life left when he is released from prison, and it's up to him to change.

“This doesn’t have to be your life in the future, Mr. Bandy, but no one can turn it around except you,” Roberts said. “Do you understand?”

Bandy replied, “Yes, your honor.”

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and e-mail at



Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:43 a.m.

To Babygirl, it would be interesting to know who exactly you are, considering you know so much about Chris. Hmm, first thoughts would lead me to believe you are an ex-girlfriend, however, I am not so sure that is the case. I'm thinking more along the lines of someone in the Bandy family or in the extended family. In that case, you do have some information completely wrong, so maybe before you comment on things you should get your facts straight. Also, don't you think it's an invasion of Chris' parents privacy to go broadcasting where they "used to" live and other facts about his father and siblings? While I agree that it is a very sad situation that Chris is in, I do believe he is capable of changing and becoming a better person. Everyone deserves the chance to be a better person in life, no matter what the crime. How would you feel if your child or parent or someone else very close to you committed a crime? Would you completely kick them out of your life and say they should rot in prison? If you can do such a thing, you are even more unspeakable than the person committing the crimes. Maybe one should look back to the issues Chris and his brothers had growing up, amongst many other issues that could contribute to the way him and his brother are. Before you go judging other people, think of how you would feel if this were someone close to you!!!!!!!! I am also disgraced at the Ann Arbor News, for their lack of the truth. They have distorted this story and added some complete un-truths regarding this case, and they should be ashamed of themselves. All for a good story to make them look good. Well in my opinion they don't look good, they look like a liar. Congratulations on ruining another person's life because you can't publish a truthful story!


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 4:04 p.m.

Chris Bandy will never change, he will always be a menace to society. This story is a proof that our justice system is not holding up to keeping law abiding citizens safe! Bandy has been in and out of prison since he was a juvenile. He attended his own brother's (Shawn Bandy, Detroit Police Officer killed in the line of duty during a police chase in Detroit) funeral in shackels. His father, Max Bandy, a retired detective from Livonia and Detroit Police Departments, was recently seen on tv advertisements for Mike Cox back in the summer. The Bandys used to live on Spencer Rd., in the South Lyon/Whitmore Lake area, which maybe why there was mention of him being from the whitmore lake area. I don't believe that the justice system has failed us all so bad. Once again another slap on the wrist to a career criminal, and why? Oh yeah, because of his father and older brother being such positive figures in law enforcement. His little brother Ryan, is also living the same life style that Christopher lives, in and out of prisons for years! This man should be locked inside the prisons never to see the light of day again, but instead our tax dollars are going to support his numerous educational classes and job certifications, such as an electrician journeyman certificate that he aquired while incarcerated one of the numerous times. And yet what did he do with those skills that we paid for? Built bomthe justice system wbs, hot wired cars, and invaded innocent peoples homes. Families fearing for their safety because the justice system wants to continuously give him another chance. I am positive that had his family not had the last name Bandy, Chris would have been sentenced to life-in-prison several charges ago. But instead they cut deals with someone who will never change! Glad to know that we live in a society where crimes are swept under the rug by mentioning a name!! And he does not have mental health issues, it is just another excuse to play the judicial system once again!! If you have read all this I would love to know how you feel about this story and Chris' sentencing now!!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:44 a.m.

I think you need to read the new comment I posted below.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:44 p.m.

WHMI radio reports the bomber is from South Lyon. I think one news department did their homework. From the WHMI website: "12/1/10 - A South Lyon man has been sentenced on federal charges for setting off pipe bombs in the Livingston County area. 33-year-old Christopher Bandy was ordered to serve 8 years and nine months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release."


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 10:06 p.m.

The guy is a career criminal, no better than a cockroach.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 8:43 p.m.

The headline on this article "implies" the bomber was a resident of Whitmore Lake. At least one commenter has taken this opportunity to make a negative comment regarding Whitmore Lake - a comment that I find offensive. Bombs are not "pretty standard whitmore lake stuff". I'm glad to see one other commenter refuting this accusation. I've read the article over and over and can't find any reference to the bomber being a resident of Whitmore Lake. On the other hand, there are references to his family living in Howell.....and his girlfriend living in Milan. I would like Mr. Higgins to explain the headline. Are you stating that Bandy was resident of Whitmore Lake? Or was the headline a poor attempt at stating that the bombings occurred in Whitmore Lake? If so, he also bombed a house in Howell.....why would you single out Whitmore Lake?


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

What rap sheet from the past and the age. Not starting off very good in life.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

You can remove my post, but jj is still a racist and his use of stereotypes are sickening!


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

The fact that no one was injured by these pipe bombings is incredible. This character is a real doozy! @Peter: Really? Pipe bombers are standard fare in WL? Go back to bed.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

Uh, no JJ, just an indictment of one mal-socialized guy: Bandy. Millions of people play video games, listen to rap, etc. without committing crimes. Personal responsibility is the burden each of us must bear in everything we CHOOSE to do.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 8 a.m.

Sad. an indictment of our society?...back to my violent video games...movies, rap,... etc,etc... Hope Sanata brings me more.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

10/19/1995- Home Invasion - 2nd Degree 11/29/1995- Breaking & Entering a Building With Intent 12/05/1995- Breaking & Entering a Building With Intent; Rec. Stolen Property Over $100 06/16/2001- Motor Vehicles-Conceal Or Misrepresent ID w/Int to Mislead 02/04/2005- Unlawfully Driving Away an Automobile - Attempt Paroled until 11/28/2010.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 6:49 a.m.

Pretty standard whitmore lake stuff