BENTON, Tenn. -- The owner of an illegal fireworks factory that blew up and killed 11 people -- including his mother, brother and uncle -- was charged Sunday with 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Dan Lee Webb, 30, who secretly operated the unlicensed fireworks factory on a worm farm in the southeast Tennessee mountains, casually walked into the Polk County Jail and surrendered at midnight Saturday - 26 hours after a nationwide alert had been issued for his arrest.
Webb, described by neighbors as an 'upstanding citizen,' was jailed in lieu of $300,000 bond pending a June 2 court appearance on the manslaughter charges.
District Attorney Jerry Estes said prosecutors still were considering charging Webb with 11 counts of second-degree murder.
Conviction on the 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter would be punishable by 55 years in prison.
'At this point in our investigation, we have determined that the elements for second-degree murder charges are not here. That may change. Basically, there has to be some malice or intent involved in second-degree murder,' Estes said.
Webb also was charged with illegally manufacturing and possessing explosives.
An attorney for the Webb family confirmed Sunday that three members of Webb's family were killed in the explosion.
Webb strolled into the jail Saturday night wearing a business suit and carrying a suitcase. Authorities said he has made no statement.
'He looked tired. He had a look of bewilderment and wonderment on his face more than anything else,' said Polk County Chief Deputy James Burris.
Webb's wife told authorities he had been on a business trip in New York or New Jersey when the fireworks factory was blown to pieces Friday, sending a giant mushroom cloud 80 feet into the air and shaking the Earth 20 miles away.
The 40-by-70 foot metal factory, apparently in operation for up to six months, was tucked into a wooded hillside on Webb's worm farm -- a fish bait business.
Webb's wife, Linda Sue, was jailed under $50,000 bond as a material witness to ensure her appearance in court. Webb's brother, Larry, was freed under a $50,000 material witness bond.
The explosion apparently occurred while workers were mixing explosive chemicals so powerful they could have been intended for use by criminals and terrorists, Estes said.
'This substance that was being used is highly sensitive. Almost any little bit of friction -- even scuffing shoes on the floor -- can spark this stuff off,' Estes said.
The bodies of the seven women and four men were hurled as far as 100 yards. Webb's mother, Beatrice Webb, 51, his brother, David Nelce Webb, 21, and uncle, Albert Kenneth Johnson, 52, were among those killed, said Webb family attorney Jim Nave.
The lone survivor, Webb's step-uncle, Tommy Webb, 31, was critically burned and lived only because he was outside mowing grass when the factory exploded.
All 11 victims, who ranged in age from 19 to 52, were identified by Sunday. Funerals for mother and daughter, Faye Tranthan, 38, and Tanya Tranthan, 19, were held Sunday and the rest were scheduled Monday and Tuesday.
The two-story factory, guarded by an electronic camera and fronted with an electric fence, included a fireworks assembly room upstairs and a chemical mixing room downstairs where the blast was ignited, Cleland Blake, state forensic pathologist said.
'It appears that the factory was in full operation at the time,' Blake said. 'Something accidentally sparked a motor or a wire, possibly somebody walked in there with a lighted cigarette. We may never know the exact cause.
'We are training for mass disasters, but this is strictly beyond what we have ever been asked to do before,' Blake said.
The fireworks factory was kept such a secret that friends of people working there said they had no idea explosives were manufactured. Most of the workers had been laid off from factories and needed jobs, relatives said.
Authorities found $20,000 worth of unexploded explosives outside the factory -- including M-80s, M-100s and four 55-gallon drums of volatile chemicals. Payne said a 'monster' explosive device -- 4 inches in diameter and 10 inches long -- also was found.