Three years later, fire death ruled a homicide

Case remains open

July 26, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

For three years, the death of 25-year-old Dwayne Hawkins in a fire in East Baltimore has been listed as an accident.

But this week, Hawkins' death was officially reclassified a homicide. Police say new information uncovered in March of this year sparked a new investigation that determined Hawkins was killed.

Hawkins was found on June 13, 2008, in the rear of a home in the 600 block of Cokesbury Lane, in the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood, and was rushed to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital. He died three days later.

At the time, police now say, investigators smelled an "ignitable liquid" at the scene. But they also received reports that Hawkins had been drinking, and determined that an "open flame combined with combustibles" to spark an accidental fire, police said.

In March of this year, police received new information that Hawkins had actually been killed, police say. Detectives consulted with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state medical examiner's office, and re-examined the details of the case.

Fire investigators changed the cause of the fire from "accident" to "incendiary," and the medical examiner classified the manner of death as "homicide." State medical examiner David Fowler said medical examiners rely on the expertise of investigators when determining a manner of death, and it is not uncommon for a death to be reclassified when new information emerges.

Hawkins' death, in city police homicide records, is now reflected as July 25, 2011, the date it was added to their active cases. Police say the case remains open, and could not divulge other details about what leads detectives are investigating.

Little was known about Hawkins — no one answered the door Tuesday at the home of Hawkins' family, a quaint blue and white home decorated with figurines. In 1998, The Sun reported that Hawkins, then 15 years old, and a 21-year-old man were charged with shooting and wounding a man, though records show the case was dropped.

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