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Federal investigation continues

Biohazard raids at homes of prominent art consultant include two additional out-of-state properties

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Tanglewood home in the 400 block of Fall River Road near Memorial Drive Hazmat teams, federal investigators, police
Federal officials raided two Michigan houses Friday as law enforcement donning biohazard suits search for hazardous chemicals in Houston. Photo courtesy of KHOU Houston/Channel 11/Facebook

Federal officials confirm that two northwest Michigan houses were raided Friday the same day as law enforcement donning biohazard suits searched for dangerous chemicals at three the Houston-area homes.

All five properties are linked to prominent Houston art consultant Cecily Horton and her husband Andrew Schneck, a doctoral candidate in urban planning at the Texas A&M College of Architecture. The investigation does not appear to focus on the couple, but on their college-aged son.

Upwards of 60 FBI agents cordoned off streets Friday morning to search two homes in Suttons Bay, a quaint vacation town along Lake Michigan. Special agent Ron Loch told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that law enforcement wore HAZMAT suits as a “precaution” when entering the buildings, neither of which were occupied at the time. 

FBI agents performed two controlled explosions during a Memoria l home search on Saturday.

The search warrants in both Michigan and Texas have been sealed by the FBI, leaving details about potential suspects and the nature of the investigations unclear.

The raids are the talk of a Houston arts community well-acquainted with Horton's respected work as a partner with M.K.G. Art Management, which assisted with preparations for the 2012 Houston Fine Art Fair. In addition to her former seven-year tenure as a trustee for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Horton also has served as a sales director for both the Hiram Butler Gallery and the Moody Gallery.

On Saturday afternoon, her $1.3 million home in Houston's Memorial area was the site of two controlled explosions orchestrated by the FBI. 

"We came across a first potentially volatile substance and conducted the first controlled detonation, and then, being able to go back in the residence, we came across a second potentially volatile substance," FBI spokesperson Shauna Dunlap explained to KTRK Channel 12.

By Saturday evening, federal agents concluded searches at the Memorial home as well as at a million-dollar property near Rice Village and at a condominium in Bryan. An unnamed law enforcement official told the Houston Chronicle that the searches were prompted by an order for chemicals used to create harmful agents like nerve gas or tear gas.

No arrests have been reported as of early Monday afternoon.

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