The verdict is in, and it isn't looking good for the alleged perpetrator.
It seems as though the motherboard did it. It is suffering from bulging capacitors, whatever that is, and was likely to blow at any second. Thank goodness we got the hard drive out alive. It was a hostage situation I wouldn't wish on anyone.
Thankfully, the hard drive is now backed up on a different computer at an undisclosed location we like to call the "safe house" and it is in no further danger at the moment.
It was a close call, folks.
And all the more reason to go shopping...for a laptop!