Homeless woman set on fire in Laurel woods dies

Former boyfriend might be charged with murder, Howard County police say

November 19, 2010|Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

A 37-year-old homeless woman who was set on fire last month in a wooded area in Laurel has died, police said Friday.

Pamela Myers, who police say was severely burned Oct. 23 by longtime boyfriend Ricky Rodola, died Thursday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Police say Rodola, 48, who had been charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and reckless endangerment in the attack, now might be charged with murder. He is being held without bond in the Howard County detention center.

Police say the incident was witnessed by another homeless couple who were friends of Myers and Rodola.

According to charging documents, Michael Sanders told police that he and his girlfriend, Melissa McCulley, had left the area in the woods in Laurel near the 9100 block of Washington Blvd., where both couples were living, to go to a clinic earlier that day. When they returned, Sanders said, they could smell "a strong odor of gasoline" coming from the direction of their tent.

Sanders told police that Myers was sitting on a chair outside their tent and was visibly upset. Myers told the couple that Rodola had doused her with gasoline, and Sanders discovered that a two-liter bottle that he had filled with gasoline to use for a generator was half-empty, according to the documents.

The documents state that Rodola was still inside the tent but was in an agitated state and continued to argue with Myers, who had a pocket lighter in her hand.

McCulley gave Myers her cell phone to call for help, according to the documents, but when she did, Rodola came outside and grabbed the phone. The couple said they then saw Rodola pour the remaining gasoline on Myers, take her lighter and set her on fire, according to the documents.

As Rodola left the area, Sanders said, he told Myers, "I love you. I'm sorry."

Myers was taken to the Bayview with burns covering 70 percent of her body.

Police tracked Rodola when he later called McCulley on her cell phone. Rodola also was taken to Bayview, where he was treated and released before being arrested.

According to police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn, Myers and Rodola had been together a long time and that she had only one known family member, who lived out of state.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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