Crime

Danielle Cordova charged in hash oil explosion she blames on mystery cook

Were Danielle Cordova, Matt Ackerman and Paul Mannaioni responsible for a hash-oil explosion that seriously burned all three of them? Or were they merely bystanders who were too badly hurt to escape along with several others seen fleeing from the fiery scene?

The Denver District Attorney's Office has charged the trio in the blast. But in an arrest affidavit, Cordova repeatedly insists the person actually responsible got away -- and she doesn't know who he is. Details, photos and the police report below.

See also: Photos: Motel blaze joins our list of top six recent hash-oil explosions

According to the affidavit, the incident in question took place just shy of 1 p.m. on April 23 at 1241 South Lipan Street, an industrial area seen in the following Google Maps screen capture.

A witness told investigators that he heard multiple loud noises. When he stepped out of his workplace to discover what had happened, he saw six to eight men and one woman fleeing from the scene, with all but three of them -- Ackerman, Mannaioni and Cordova -- managing to get away.

The injuries suffered by the latter explain why they weren't at their peak of escapability. All three are said to have suffered severe burns on their arms and legs, with a doctor subsequently finding that they stood a substantial chance of "serious permanent disfigurement." Cordova, for example, suffered second-degree burns.

Meanwhile, firefighters concentrated on dousing a tent behind the building that was engulfed in flames. Responders made note of "numerous butane cans labeled 'Meteor 7X,' metal pipes and suspected marijuana on the ground, which were all on fire."

The injured parties were transported to Denver Health, where they were subsequently quizzed by investigators. Ackerman maintained that he had gone to the building to watch a hash oil extraction, only to be caught in an explosion about twenty minutes later. Cordova's story was similar: She said she went to the address with friends to watch people she didn't know make hash oil only to see it go boom instead.

And Mannaioni? He declined to speak before consulting an attorney, but a nurse who treated him wrote out a statement claiming he'd told her that he, Ackerman and Cordova were under the tent "to keep bugs out while they made 'Ear Wax Hash' using butane," the report says. The narrative adds: "Mannaioni explained they were using clippings of marijuana stems and melting them down with butane when it collected in a dish and ignited. Mannaioni stated that the fireball blew up in their faces, engulfing them in the enclosed tent."

Not long thereafter, officers found "a brown box labeled Power 5X Super-Refined Butane Fuel" in a Ford Expedition owned by Ackerman.

Nonetheless, Cordova didn't roll over on Ackerman, described as her boyfriend. In an interview in late May, she reportedly admitted being inside the tent with Ackerman and Mannaioni when the explosion took place, but when asked who was doing the extraction, she said, "That we don't know! Because there was nobody back there, so that's why we don't know."

When the investigator pressed Cordova for more information about the mystery cookers, the report says she became very upset, began to cry and refused to answer any more questions.

The inquiries aren't over. Each member of the trio has been charged with processing or manufacturing marijuana concentrate -- something none of them are licensed with the state to do. They're due back in court later this month.

Look below to see full-size booking photos for all three, followed by the arrest affidavit.

Ackerman-Cordova-Mannaioni Affidavit

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts