Man, 22, charged in arson death Catonsville man dies, his mother hurt in apartment fire.

November 29, 1991|By Alisa Samuels and Richard Irwin | Alisa Samuels and Richard Irwin,Evening Sun Staff

A 22-year-old unemployed carpenter, accused in the death of a mentally retarded Catonsville man and the injury of the man's mother early Thanksgiving Day, remained in custody without bail today, charged with first-degree murder and arson.

Baltimore County police said Andreas Klepp-Egge, of the 200 block of N. Rolling Road, was arrested about three hours after a fire that police said was deliberately set.

It claimed the life of Vaughn A. Crenning, 50, and injured Crenning's mother, 72-year-old Ruth L. Westervelt. The two lived together in a first-floor apartment in the first block of North Rolling Road.

Both suffered from smoke inhalation.

Police said the fire was the result of an argument between tenants. About an hour before the fire broke out, police were at the house trying to settle the quarrel, which they said was about money.

Lt. Timothy Caslin said the argument appeared settled when police left.

About an hour later, the frame and shingle building was burning.

Within minutes of its discovery at 4:30 a.m., the fire went to two alarms, causing several residents, including a 7-year-old boy, to flee.

In a first-floor bedroom, firefighters found Vaughn Crenning's body in a bed next to one containing his mother, who was overcome by smoke.

Police said the fire was set by someone who opened an unlocked basement door and set fire to a love-seat in the front of the basement.

Police said the fire filled the lower parts of the dwelling and spread smoke through the walls and up a staircase.

Crenning, who was retarded, was pronounced dead at St. Agnes Hospital, police said.

His mother, who has cancer, was taken to the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore, where she was listed today in serious but stable condition.

Several other residents escaped injury by jumping from windows, police said.

The 7-year-old boy, police said, fractured a leg as he was climbing down a ladder. He, along with other residents, was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Police said there were no smoke detectors in the building.

About 8 a.m., police went to a residence in the 200 block of N. Rolling Road and arrested Klepp-Egge and charged him with first-degree murder and arson.

Police said they were able to find Klepp-Egge based on information provided by Greg Hohman, who was involved in the argument over money.

Hohman was not injured in the fire, police said.

The building, owned by Westervelt, sustained minor damage, police said.

Neighbors of the mother and son said they were quiet people.

Lindsay Crawford, 82, who has lived in the area for 32 years, said that after Westervelt's husband, Ralph, died years ago, she didn't go out much.

"When that happened, the mother seemed to withdraw and go back into the house," Crawford said, adding that Westervelt has been ill for some time.

Social workers cared for Crenning, a husky and strong man, who in the past would take walks outside, he said.

"It's a shame things like this have to happen," Crawford said.

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