Homeless man indicted on first-degree murder charge

Laurel man accused of setting girlfriend on fire

November 23, 2010|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

A 48-year-old homeless man who police say set his girlfriend on fire has been indicted on first-degree murder charges by a Howard County grand jury.

Richard Rodola, of no fixed address in Laurel, poured gasoline on Pamela Myers on Oct. 23 in the woods where they lived, police say. Myers, 37, died last week at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She was taken to the hospital with severe burns covering 70 percent of her body, police said.

According to police, Rodola used Myers' own pocket lighter to start the fire.

Michael Sanders, a homeless man who lived nearby, told police that there was a strong odor of gasoline he could smell from a distance and that, when he got back to his tent with his girlfriend that afternoon, half of a 2-liter bottle filled with gasoline he kept there had been emptied.

When Sanders got back to his tent, he found Myers, who was upset after an argument with Rodola. Rodola had already poured some gasoline on her, police said. When Myers called a friend for help, Rodola took the cell phone out of her hand, poured the rest of the gasoline on Myers and then set her on fire before leaving, police said.

Sanders told police that Rodola apologized to Myers before he left, told her he loved her and said she should tell police that she accidently set herself ablaze while making a fire for their campsite. He later called Sanders' girlfriend to see how Myers was doing, and police traced his location through the call. He was arrested later that day after being treated and released at Bayview for less serious burns.

Rodola is being held without bond at the Howard County detention center.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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