Ex-Towson State student charged in dorm fires

March 25, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

Towson State University police yesterday arrested a 20-year-old former student and charged him with arson and malicious burning in fires Sunday on four floors of a 13-story dormitory building.

No one was seriously hurt in the 6 a.m. fires, but 250 students had to be evacuated. Two campus police officers and a maintenance worker were treated for smoke inhalation. Damage was estimated at $10,000.

Yesterday afternoon, campus police arrested Mark Stanley Rouleau of the 900 block of Woodson Road in North Baltimore, south of the city line, and charged him with first-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning -- both felonies.

Susanna Craine, a university spokeswoman, said Mr. Rouleau once attended Towson State, but does not now. She knew little else about him, she said.

In District Court charging documents, Detective Scott N. Rough of the university police said police were led to the suspect through an anonymous caller, who said two residents of a seventh-floor room of the dorm tower knew who set the fires.

When police interviewed the two students, they told investigators that three of their friends had come to the dorm Saturday night, then gone to a party, returning about 5 a.m. Sunday. One of the three visitors was Mr. Rouleau, they told police.

Mr. Rouleau and another visitor left about 5:50 a.m., Detective Rough said. The students told detectives that they didn't know for sure if their friends had set the fires, but suspected that one might have.

On Tuesday, Detective Rough interviewed Mr. Rouleau, who, the detective said, initially insisted he could not remember events of Sunday morning because he was "extremely intoxicated."

"However, in an interview lasting two hours, the defendant did admit that he had, in fact, set the fires on the fifth, fourth, third and second floors of the Residence Tower," the charging documents said. The suspect said "he was extremely drunk" and "full of energy" as he was leaving the building, according to the detective's account in the documents.

As the suspect descended the stairs from the seventh floor, the documents said, he set fire to a poster on the fifth floor, another poster on the fourth floor, a bulletin board on the third floor and a banner hanging above a sofa on the second floor. Arson investigators had said earlier that someone set fire to the sofa on the second floor, but Mr. Rouleau told police he never intended to set the sofa on fire, the charging documents said.

After his arrest yesterday, Mr. Rouleau was released on a $35,000 personal pledge after seeing a court commissioner.

Conviction on both of the charges would carry a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison and a $55,000 fine.

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