Arson suspect arrested CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

January 22, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

A 21-year-old cook was arrested and charged with setting a fire last October that extensively damaged a 100-year-old former schoolhouse on Hughes Shop Road.

The suspect, Rusty J. Harman, who lives next door to the burned building in the 600 block, was arrested at his home yesterday by Deputy State Fire Marshal Frank Rauschenberg.

Mr. Harman, who works at a Westminster fast-food restaurant, was charged with arson and malicious destruction and was held without bail by a District Court commissioner yesterday, pending bail review by a judge today.

The suspect faces up to 24 years in prison if he is convicted of both charges.

The building, known as Meadow Branch School, was built in the late 1800s and was used as a school until about 1935, according to Joan Metcalf, owner of the 60-by-24-foot brick structure.

It has been used most recently as a storehouse.

"The blaze apparently started on a porch and burned inside causing extensive damage to the books, furniture and other articles, including an old cradle and a hand-crank record player, stored there," Mr. Rauschenberg said just after the fire.

Mrs. Metcalf said the building was used for farm meetings until the late 1940s but has been used only for storage in recent years.

Her mother, Helen Roop Rinehart, once taught at the school, she said.

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