Woman set on fire in July dies of injuries

Grandchild's boyfriend charged with arson

September 18, 2001|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A West Baltimore woman died yesterday from injuries she suffered two months ago when she was deliberately set on fire, police said.

Sandra Jeffries, 61, of the 700 block of N. Hilton St. died at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center from second- and third-degree burns she suffered in a Southwest Baltimore rowhouse July 15, said police spokesman Agent Martin Bartness.

Police say William L. Spencer, 23, of the 2400 block of Presbury St., had argued with his girlfriend, Lashelle Bryant, 21, at her Parrish Street home on July 15. Bryant is Jeffries' granddaughter.

Spencer left and returned about 25 minutes later with a glass containing liquid, which police said they suspect was gasoline. Police say he poured the liquid on Bryant, and some splashed on Jeffries. As friends pushed him out of the house, police said, Spencer struck a match.

Spencer was indicted Friday on charges of first-degree arson, attempted murder and first-degree assault, Bartness said. Murder charges will be filed this week, said Detective Randy Humes of the department's homicide unit.

Bryant and several other people escaped the fire with minor injuries. Jeffries was taken to Bayview with severe burns over most of her body.

Jeffries' granddaughter Tilise Stackhouse, 22, who broke an ankle jumping from a second-floor window to escape the fire, said last night that Jeffries made friends easily.

Tiffany Lowery, 16, another granddaughter, said she was always there in times of need.

Sarina Spriggs, 25, lives across the street from the burned-out rowhouse and is the goddaughter of Rhonda Alves, Jeffries' daughter. She said Jeffries liked playing bingo at a nearby church and loved spending time with her great-grandchildren.

Stackhouse said her grandmother's death is a big loss.

"Everybody around here is sad that she died," Stackhouse said. "When we got home from the hospital today, people were knocking on our door saying they were sorry and asking about arrangements."

Stackhouse said Jeffries "was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Her life got ended for something careless, something senseless," Stackhouse said. "She was 61 in age, but she was a very lively person."

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