Police confirm dead man's link to arson

Victim of apparent suicide had been charged in fire

March 04, 2004|By Joe Nawrozki and Laura Barnhardt | Joe Nawrozki and Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

The man who apparently shot and killed himself as police surrounded him in a wooded area in northwest Baltimore County on Tuesday was an arson suspect who had been the target of a search since last week, police said yesterday.

William E. Tinkler, 62, who was charged with setting his Randallstown-area home on fire Feb. 25, was identified yesterday through fingerprints, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.

An autopsy was conducted yesterday, and the medical examiner's report could be complete by today, Vinson said.

Members of the Ranger Tactical Team from the state Department of Natural Resources, who had been called to assist county police in the search for Tinkler, cornered the man about 3 p.m. Tuesday in a remote section of Soldiers Delight state park, police said.

As four officers from the eight-member team drew closer, Tinkler jumped into a lean-to in a culvert less than a mile from Deer Park Road, and officers heard what sounded like a muffled gun shot, said Maj. John Norbeck, manager of the central region of the DNR State Forest and Park Service.

Officers tried to make contact for several minutes but received no response, Norbeck said. A Maryland State Police helicopter created a distraction overhead so that officers could get closer, he said. They found the man dead, and officers recovered what appeared to be a .22-caliber rifle, said Norbeck.

Tinkler lost his 1.22-acre property on Lyons Mill Road last summer after failing to pay $5,579 in taxes. The house that Tinkler grew up in and two outbuildings burned to the ground hours before he was scheduled to be evicted, police said.

Initially, firefighters feared that Tinkler had died in the fire. But when they found no trace of the man or his two cats, police began searching for him in the 2,500-acre Soldiers Delight state property just west of his home.

Tinkler was charged in a warrant Friday with first-degree arson, police said.

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