Two charged with arson in home fires

January 24, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Two Anne Arundel County residents were charged recently in separate arsons at two homes last month -- one allegedly to destroy records from a fledgling business and the other allegedly to collect insurance money, fire officials said yesterday.

One fire, two days before Christmas, destroyed a home, left a family of four homeless and sparked a fund-raising effort in Odenton.

Yesterday, fire investigators arrested Robert James Groseclose, 35, who had lived in the home with his mother and two children in the 1200 block of Breitwert Ave.

Capt. Gary Sheckells, a fire department spokesman, said multiple fires were set in the two-story home, which was destroyed.

The spokesman said Mr. Groseclose was charged with arson of a dwelling, arson to defraud an insurance company and reckless endangerment.

No one was injured.

"It is our belief that his motive for setting the fire is because he was experiencing financial and domestic difficulties," Captain Sheckells said, adding that the man's wife was not living there at the time of the blaze.

After the fire, the Red Cross helped the family relocate to a neighbor's home. The Rev. James D. Manning, pastor of the Nichols-Bethel United Methodist Church, said parishioners donated $1,500, clothes and Christmas presents to help the family.

In the second arrest, Catherine Worth, 40, was charged Friday with arson in a fire at her two-story home in the 900 block of Burnette Ave., Arnold.

Captain Sheckells said fire investigators first believed a malfunction in a television caused the Dec. 30 fire, which caused $50,000 damage to several upstairs rooms, including a home office used by Mrs. Worth.

The spokesman said the woman admitted to setting the fire because of financial problems in the business she ran from her home, and said she believed she could avoid a loss by destroying records. Mrs. Worth allegedly ignited a tablecloth beneath the television. She was charged with arson of a dwelling, arson to defraud an insurance company and reckless endangerment.

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