Man, 36, charged with arson and murder in rowhouse fire Southeast Baltimore blaze killed boy, 5, injured teen

April 09, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A 36-year-old man was ordered held without bail yesterday after police charged him with firebombing a Southeast Baltimore rowhouse in a blaze that killed a 5-year-old boy and injured a teen-ager.

Jerome Goodwin of the 1300 block of Ashland Ave. was charged with first-degree murder, arson and possessing a Molotov cocktail. Police said they arrested him Saturday night at his East Baltimore home.

The fire started shortly after 10: 30 p.m. Wednesday in a three-story rowhouse in the 1400 block of Bank St., between Fells Point and Little Italy, and caused an estimated $11,500 in damage.

The child who died was identified as Donte Wooden. Fire officials said his parents were not home when the blaze broke out. An unidentified witness is quoted in court papers as saying the boy was "banging on a third-floor front window" of the burning rowhouse.

Investigators said the suspect is the boyfriend of the victim's mother. Police said they have not determined a motive. "We have come up with a few, but none that we can prove yet," said Detective Joseph Dugan of the homicide unit. He would not elaborate.

The injured teen-ager, Keesha Daniels, 19, who was five months' pregnant, has been released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She suffered smoke inhalation and injured a leg jumping from her back porch to the porch of a house next door.

Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a Fire Department spokesman, said the blaze is under investigation by the city and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

It is the first jointly investigated fire since the city and ATF signed a cooperative agreement last month. Federal labs are being used to analyze evidence collected to determine what flammable substance was used to help the blaze spread, investigators said.

In papers filed yesterday in District Court, police said a witness saw the suspect throw through the first-floor window of the house a bottle with a burning cloth inside it.

The court documents say the witness -- who was not identified -- picked the suspect out of a photo lineup.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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