2009-02-26 / Front Page

Boyfr iend Admits To Setting Fatal House Fire

Sisters die in blaze last Monday evening

A 38-year-old Hancock man was arrested Friday morning after admitting to investigators he ignited the blaze that destroyed the home where he resided with his girlfriend and her two young daughters.

Clarence Franklin Meyers has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in conjunction with the February 16 fire at 220 Old Route 40 that resulted in the death of sisters Nicole and Mary Gross, who succumbed to smoke inhalation while trapped in their secondfloor bedroom. Meyers along with the girls and their mother, Melissa Lindeman, had moved into the home in August 2008.

Meyers told Maryland State Police investigators he was unemployed and hoped the family would receive donations from the community if their home was damaged in a fire. Meyers said he sprayed lighter fluid on an electrical panel and bed in the basement. A cigarette lighter was utilized to ignite a piece of paper that fell on a sofa near the electrical panel.

Meyers reportedly attempted to stomp out the blaze, but it spread too quickly. He was able to escape the home through a basement door and later tried to rescue the girls by climbing onto a rear porch roof.

Meyers suffered smoke inhalation, and the girls' mother sustained severe lacerations after breaking and jumping out a first-floor window. Both Lindeman and Meyers were treated at Winchester Medical Center in Virginia.

In addition to the murder and arson charges, Meyers has also been cited for one count each of first-degree malicious burning, one count of second-degree malicious burning and two counts of first-degree child abuse resulting in death.

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