HILLSBORO, Ore. -- A 36-year-old dad and Nike executive is accused of cutting his home's natural gas line in an attempt to kill his wife and four children in the community of Bethany, west of Portland.
James Speidel was arrested on five counts of attempted aggravated murder, five counts of attempted assault and attempted arson.
The man's 38-year-old wife smelled a strong odor of natural gas early Tuesday morning and fled the house with their four children, ranging in age from 3 to 9, according to Sgt. Bob Ray with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Northwest Natural Gas found that an external gas line had been severed and a large amount of gas was leaking under the house. The crew shut off the gas and advised the woman to call the sheriff's office.
The gas line appeared to be intentionally cut, Ray said. Deputies began searching for Speidel and found him Tuesday afternoon hiding in a field off Germantown Road. After hospital treatment for an unrelated condition, he was arrested.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue investigators said there was enough gas in the house to potentially blow it up if ignited. Ray said the blast would have been so strong, it likely would have damaged neighboring homes as well.
Bail was set at $1 million for Speidel and he was scheduled to face the charges in court at 3 p.m., Wednesday.
Speidel is an employee of Nike, a company official confirmed Wednesday morning. He holds the title of Business Director for a Nike division called SPARQ, which works directly with athletes and their training regimens.
Nike company officials declined further comment.
Officials with NW Natural released a statement regarding the natural gas investigation that said Speidel's wife did the right thing by leaving her home after noticing the odd smell. They said this was a powerful reminder that people should know the warning signs outlined on the safety page of their website.