Philadelphia Artist Loses Hand...and then Things Get Worse

| by Cassandra Cassillas

Philadelphia artist Douglas Ferrin, 54, blew his fingers off last Wednesday and is now facing serious criminal charges.

Philadelphia Police released an announcement stating that Ferrin was officially being charged “with Weapons of Mass Destruction, Causing/risking a Catastrophe, Possessing an Instrument of Crime, and related charges,” after responding to a 911 call for an explosion around 4 a.m., May 14.

Ted Smith, Ferrin’s across-the-street neighbor, told this was nothing surprising for the community.

"I heard the explosion, and I figured, 'Well, it must be Doug again,'”Smith said. "My girlfriend looked outside and saw him staggering around. There was blood all over, and he was crying. I heard they found his fingers in the back yard."

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is still investigating the incident. Steve Bartholomew, a spokesman for the Bureau, said that evidence found in Ferrin’s home would be tested in a lab. They are also investigating whether he detonated devices before that night.

Various neighbors told reporters that they often heard Ferrin playing with explosives. Neighbor Sebastian Agudelo says he recalls three instances.

“They were big explosions. You stopped what you were doing and came outside to see what happened,” Agudelo told “The police came out after one explosion last summer. They drove by, and asked [Ferrin] if he knew what happened. He just said, 'I don't know.'’’

Ferrin was charged similarly in 2011, along with arson, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment charges after placing a stick of dynamite in an Irish restaurant’s bathroom. The Mercury News reported authorities finding “‘a lot of bomb making material,’ including various powders, tubes, scales, fuses and other material to make dynamite, enough to kill and place a ‘big hole’ in the hotel.”

Despite the findings, and pleading guilty,  Ferrin was only sentenced to between 5 and 23 months in jail. The self-described “fine artist and painter who also writes songs, essays and fiction” also lives right next door to a Sunoco gas station, according to a reporter at NewsWorks.

“He's a hell of an artist," his neighbor Ted Smith told, "but I'd say he's got about half a brain. Now he has half a hand."

His bail has been set at $500,000. His next court appearance is set for May 29.