BODFISH, CA (BRAIN) — Known for his inventive and useful bicycle tools, Paul Morningstar was found dead at his house in the Kern River Valley in Southern California on Saturday. According to an article (link requires registration) in the Bakersfield Californian, the cause of Morningstar’s death is not yet confirmed, but police speculate he was killed by one of several bombs he had made and planted on his property.
An engineer by trade, Morningstar worked for more than 30 years in steel mills and nuclear plants. He started making bicycle tools in 1990, and his company Morningstar Tools attracted customers from around the world.
Unique tools such as the Rim 'Rench, a rim straightener, and the Freehub Buddy, a tool that allows mechanics to clean and lube freehubs without disassembly, are highly regarded in cycling circles.
Morningstar was an avid cyclist and supporter of local cycling events, including the annual Fat Tire Festival held each October in the Kern Valley and the Keyesville Classic Stage Race, now in its 26th year.
“Paul sponsored the race for two years but has provided neutral mechanic support for many years,” said Steve Messer, vice president of the Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) and longtime supporter of the Keyesville Classic. “I would run into him around the Kern Valley, on the trail and at the Fat Tire Fest.”
Messer, like many who knew him as a cyclist, was not aware that Morningstar was making bombs and planting them on his property. “Through conversations we had over the years, I did know that he had some paranoia about the government,” said Messer. According to the article in the Bakersfield Californian, neighbors reported that Morningstar believed someone was trying to kill him.
Police located several bombs on Morningstar’s property, and using robots to gain access to his house, found his body in his home on Saturday, Dec. 21. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion at Morningstar’s home on Wednesday, Dec. 18, the day he was last seen.
According to the Morningstar Tools website, he was born in Chicago and studied engineering at Purdue and Prairie State College. He was believed to be in his 60s.