Woman dies in suspicious fire at Parkville apartment Bombs found earlier in same building

August 05, 1992|By Bruce Reid and Richard Irwin | Bruce Reid and Richard Irwin,Staff Writers Staff writers Roger Twigg and Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this article.

A 36-year-old woman died early yesterday in a suspicious fire in a Parkville apartment building -- the same building where Baltimore County police found pipe bombs and seven live hand grenades last month.

Police spokesman E. Jay Miller said investigators were trying to determine whether there was a connection between the fire, which also injured four people, and the discovery of the bombs and grenades.

"Neighbors did report hearing some sort of explosion and glass breaking," Mr. Miller said.

"It's open," he said of the investigation. "It's fair to say we're investigating to see if there's a connection."

Mr. Miller said police and fire officials were interviewing residents of the apartment building.

The fire in the 2500 block of Wentworth Road appeared to have been deliberately set, authorities said. The Baltimore County arson squad was looking for clues, a Fire Department spokesman said.

The victim, who died of smoke inhalation, was identified as Kathleen Marie McCoy. She was taken to St. Joseph Hospital shortly after the fire began at 3:42 a.m.

Mrs. McCoy, who worked as a clerical employee in the Baltimore County central services office, lived in the upper right apartment in the two-story, frame building, Mr. Miller said.

The fire appeared to have started in the lower right unit, which was occupied by Paul K. McInturff, 45, said Mr. Miller. Mr. McInturff escaped uninjured.

Injured were Dorothy Holmes, 36, and her 14-month-old son, John Holmes.

They were released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center after being treated for smoke inhalation, a hospital spokesman said.

Another occupant, Gregg Swanner, 38, was taken to Franklin Square Hospital, Mr. Miller said. He was treated and released.

Ron Kramer, 34, lived in a basement unit, Mr. Miller said. He was uninjured.

A firefighter was taken to Franklin Square for treatment of minor injuries.

Mrs. Holmes' husband, Stephen Michael Holmes, was found dead June 30 in a parking lot in the 300 block of E. Melrose Ave. in North Baltimore, city police said. The death of Mr. Holmes, who was 42, is being investigated as "questionable" pending results of an autopsy, police said.

His body was found in his 1992 Chevrolet, police said. There were no signs of trauma or foul play, police said. Numerous empty beer bottles and other alcohol beverages were found in the car.

Mr. Miller said that on July 8, the man's father-in-law reported that he had found chemicals and other bomb-making material in Mr. Holmes' closet.

Then, on July 18, police evacuated the Parkville apartment building after Mrs. Holmes reported finding a box with suspected bombs. The box contained six pipe bombs and the grenades, Mr. Miller said.

The bombs and grenades were taken by police and destroyed, Mr. Miller said.

Yesterday's fire went to two alarms at 4 a.m. and was declared under control at 4:33 a.m.

Jeff Liebert, 33, who lives across the street, said he ran outside when he heard an explosion.

"We were trying to figure out how to get the people out," he said. He said he got a ladder and helped Mrs. Holmes out a second-floor window.

He said he then tried to help Mrs. McCoy, but she was too large to make it out a second-floor window.

Fire officials said the child was caught by bystanders after he was dropped from a second-floor window by one of the occupants.

Frank Simms, 65, who has lived on Wentworth Road, near the fire scene since 1950, said his neighborhood is generally quiet, dominated by stable families. Speaking of Mrs. McCoy, he added, "The sad part of it is the poor woman, she was just a victim of circumstance. It's a damn poor way to die, to put it bluntly."

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