Edgewood, MD (WBAL ) — Authorities have charged a woman with murder in connection with a townhome fire that killed three of her roommates and injured two others in Edgewood.
According to court records, Bobbie Sue Hodge, 60, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder and first-degree arson.
Hodge was taken into custody Monday morning, Sheriff Jeff Gahler said.
“An arrest has been made in the fire that claimed the lives of three of our community members,” Gahler said. “To know that it was an intentional act that started it down the path to causing the end of these people’s lives, it’s horrific.”
On May 9, three people died and two others were injured in the fire in the 1800 block of Simons Court. One victim sustained burns to more than 70% of her body.
“It’s finally out in the open,” said Brenda Parks-Sanders, a sibling to one of the victims.
Parks-Sanders suspected the fire that killed her sister was intentionally set but told 11 News the announcement of an arrest brings her some peace.
“It’s the first step toward a lot of justice,” said Parks-Sanders.
Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci said the origin of the fire was in the second-floor living room of one of the townhomes.
“It was no accident that these three innocent people lost their lives on that Thursday morning and that two others continue to suffer with their injuries,” Geraci said.
The sheriff said Hodge was a suspect from the beginning, but investigators have not yet uncovered a motive.
“I don’t think to say that there is a specific motive that investigators have uncovered would be accurate,” Gahler said.
Court documents show Hodge made multiple threats to burn the house down, and one of the victims who died in the fire made a phone call to say Hodge had started the fire.
On the day of the fire, 11 News spoke with Hodge, who said she had to be rescued from her basement apartment.
“I was very scared,” Hodge said in May. “I got woke up to someone yelling, ‘Fire, get out. Get out.’ I got burned a little when the roof fell and fire hit me here. I couldn’t move. I was froze.”
During the investigation, the state fire marshal determined the townhouse was operating as an illegal group home housing nine people.
“Once we determined how many people were in the house, we determined that this was an illegal group home,” Geraci said. “Based on the number of occupants that were in the house, it did not meet or comply with the current standards or fire codes with the state of Maryland.”
Parks-Sanders said that while the arrest is a relief, “I not only hold her accountable, but I hold the landlord accountable.”
The fire led to multiple violation notices being sent to the property owner, fire officials said.
“For that home to be in compliance, it needed a complete residential sprinkler system, a complete fire alarm system, obviously, smoke alarms throughout the house within the sleeping areas and on every level of the house outside the sleeping areas, so there were quite a few things,” Geraci said.
Randy Arnold lives in the area and is friends with one of the women who was injured. She is working to clean up several of the homes damaged in the fire.
“He had rooms boarded off without windows, and he had, like, eight people living in there, so, yeah, that wasn’t good. It definitely was a factor in what happened,” Arnold said.
Reacting to charges filed against Hodge, Arnold said, “I feel sorry for her, but at the same time, you have to do something.”
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