Thursday, January 8, 2009

Aspen would-be bomber's last will a real blast

Ashcroft Ghost Town, Testator thought to hold mining claims in the area.

Jim Blanning planted four bombs in Aspen on New Year’s Eve in an apparent extortion attempt on local banks. The 72-year-old then shot himself in the head east of Aspen without detonating any of the bombs. The attempted attack shut down 16 blocks of downtown Aspen for the night.

Blanning left a hand-written last will and testament on an envelope on New Year’s Eve. He left an handwritten addendum in his car.

He named an attorney who claimed he had not had any contact with Blanning for several years, did not know why he was chosen, and declined to accept. His brother will step in.

What he left behind is what many believe to be the most extensive files on mining claims ownership in Colorado.

In the will, Blanning left “3 crime scenes” to Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis and Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland. The “crime scenes” are reportedly Blanning’s apartment, office and storage unit in Denver. They are said to be full of mining records, books, maps, and mineral samples.

In the addendum to his will, Blanning named Braudis and Aspen attorney Art Daily “heirs to all personal records and property.

Both Braudis and Daily, who knew Blanning casually for years, were surprised to be named. Blanning also left “all the mining property and binders, books, records, maps and anything related” to Kurt Hollberg and “Mr. Plum of Gunnison True Value family.”

Hollberg, 52, is a consulting mining engineer who lives in Denver. Blanning owned the mineral rights to two 10-acre mining claims in Pitkin County and may well own interests in many other claims elsewhere around the state.

Hollberg said Blanning contacted him about a year ago about a potential mining project around an old silver mine on Forest Service land in Aspen back country.

Hollberg said he felt uncomfortable dealing with Blanning because he seemed “fishy.” That might have been good intuition, because, unknown to Hollberg was that Blanning had once been convicted for selling fraudulent mining claims.

There are still several other mysteries regarding Blanning’s will. No one who has been contacted by the Aspen Daily News thus far knows the identity of “Mr. Plum.”

And in the addendum to the will, Blanning wrote that “all rights to the maps, data, records relating to what I call the ‘Star High’ project go to Central City and Fortune Valley Casino,” located just outside of Denver.

Bill Blanning said he believed his brother’s voluminous records would solve the mysteries of “Mr. Plum” and the relevance of the casino when they are released by the FBI.

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