When romance sours, as it apparently did in the relationship between Frances Lindner, 74, and Paul Donald Webb, 65, things can get pretty nasty.
State Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Thomas said Mr. Webb was arrested about 5 a.m. today on Pulaski Highway at Mohr's Lane after a "low-speed chase" involving 11 patrol cars from the Maryland State Police, Baltimore County police and the fire marshal's office.
Mr. Thomas said Mr. Webb, an Essex retiree who had been dating Ms. Lindner for about six months, faces numerous criminal charges.
He is accused of going to the woman's Joppatowne residence three times late yesterday and early today, setting her house on fire twice and smashing the woman's car with a maul.
Ms. Lindner and her daughter were not at home when the fires were set.
"He lives by himself," said a neighbor of Mr. Webb's in the 900 block of Kinwat Ave. "He's a pretty good neighbor."
"This is probably the first case we can remember when a senior citizen was arrested for arson in connection with a lover's quarrel," Mr. Thomas said.
He said authorities believe Mr. Webb went to the Lindner home in the 400 block of Hardin Drive about 3:30 p.m. yesterday after an argument with her.
The outdoor gas and electric meter on the house and the windshield on her car were smashed with a maul during that visit, said Mr. Thomas.
Mr. Webb left, but he allegedly returned early today and poured gasoline onto the front of the house and set it on fire, Mr. Thomas said.
The blaze was put out by firefighters from the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department and Baltimore County.
Sometime after 4 a.m., someone set fire to the rear of the house. Firefighters returned again.
Witnesses saw Mr. Webb leaving Hardin Drive in his beige sedan.
dTC Not knowing whether he was armed, police followed him on Pulaski Highway for about 10 miles at a distance.
"We got to speeds that reached 35 mph," Mr. Thomas said.
"When he finally pulled over, he wouldn't get out of his car at first."
Mr. Webb is charged with several counts of arson and resisting arrest.
If he is convicted on all the charges, Mr. Webb faces more than 60 years in prison.