ELKTON — A man accused of torching a pickup truck owned by his ex-girlfriend’s stepfather — on the same night she broke up with the suspect — remained jailed Thursday after surrendering himself to authorities, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal and charging documents relating to the March incident that occurred near Elkton.
Court records also allege that the suspect, Garett Riley Dorsey, 21, of Dover, Del., had threatened to set fire to that truck during an argument with the woman while she was trying to end their relationship.
Moreover, according to charging documents, investigators recovered evidence allegedly linking Dorsey to the arson after he was involved in a traffic accident later that night, which resulted in officers filing drunken-driving charges against him.
MOSFM detectives developed Dorsey as the suspect during their investigation, according to fire officials. With the assistance of the Maryland State Apprehension Team, MOSFM investigators located and then contacted Dorsey, who agreed to turn himself in to authorities, which he did on Tuesday, fire officials reported.
Scheduled for an Oct. 14 preliminary hearing, Dorsey is charged with second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning – both of which are felonies – and misdemeanor counts of making an arson threat and malicious destruction of property with a value of more than $10,000, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Dorsey remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond on Thursday, after his bail review hearing a day earlier, court records show.
He stands accused of intentionally setting fire to a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe in the unit block of Robin Hood Drive, causing an estimated $10,000 in damage to the vehicle, fire officials said.
The woman’s stepfather called 911 at approximately 9:30 p.m. on March 4 after discovering his burning truck outside their home, fire officials added.
“(The stepfather) stated that he was asleep in his recliner in the living room when he heard a loud bang that sounded like gunshots. (He) stated he got up and looked out the front door and saw his truck on fire. (He) stated that he grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to extinguish the flames. (He) advised the officers that his stepdaughter’s boyfriend did this, but he did not witness Mr. Dorsey setting the fire,” according to charging documents.
Court records show that the woman was “very upset and crying” inside her bedroom when she heard her stepfather yelling about his burning truck. That occurred an estimated 30 minutes to one hour after Dorsey had dropped her off at that Robin Hood Drive residence, directly after the breakup, according to court records.
Singerly Volunteer Fire Company firefighters responded to the scene and extinguished the blaze, fire officials said, adding that the deliberately-set truck fire put the nearby home in jeopardy.
“The vehicle was located in the driveway and firefighters were able to contain the fire prior to spreading to the home,” a MOSFM spokesman said.
The woman told investigators that Dorsey “became angry and mad” when she broke up with him on the night of March 4, sometime between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., while they were out together drinking alcoholic beverages, police said.
She also alleged that, at one point after telling Dorsey she wanted to end their relationship, he “physically grabbed her,” according to charging papers.
Those court documents further allege that, during the argument, Dorsey “made the statement that he was going to set (the stepfather’s truck) on fire.”
She estimated that Dorsey dropped her off at the Robin Hood Drive residence between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 4, approximately 30 minutes to one hour before the burning truck was discovered, court records show.
A neighbor told investigators that he saw Dorsey’s white Nissan Maxima parked in front of the Robin Hood Drive residence at about 9:10 p.m. on March 4 and that he watched that same car leave the neighborhood at approximately 9:25 p.m., about five minutes before the truck fire was discovered, according to court records.
(That neighbor also told investigators that he had earlier seen the woman “yelling at her boyfriend but did not think anything of it because they argue all the time,” court records show.)
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on March 4, about an hour after the burning truck was discovered, Dorsey was involved in a traffic accident near Chesapeake City, court records show. When a Maryland State Police trooper arrived on the scene, he noticed Dorsey crying and heard him say, “I (expletive) up again,” according to court records.
Dorsey told the trooper that he had been drinking vodka with his girlfriend and repeatedly said he “did something stupid and now I’m going to get another DUI,” court records allege.
After arresting Dorsey on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the trooper found a Mobile I Synthetic Oil container, which holds five quarts, while searching Dorsey’s car, police said. An analysis performed later at the MSP forensics lab indicated that the liquid in that confiscated oil container was gasoline, police added.
Investigators further reported that video gleaned from a surveillance camera outside an Elkton-area convenience store shows Dorsey getting gasoline at 9:12 p.m. on March 4.
“Based on my knowledge, training and experience as a fire investigator, specific to fire involving arson, I know that purchases of gasoline in small (not consistent with refueling a vehicle) quantities by suspects in arson investigations . . . is evidence that the suspect had purchased the gasoline with the intent to use it in the commission of the crime of arson and related crimes,” MOSFM Deputy Brian Quick, lead investigator, outlines in his written statement of probable cause.
The investigator further alleges, “At some point after Mr. Dorsey had dropped (his ex-girlfriend) off at her home and after he went to the (convenience store fuel pumps), Garett Riley Dorsey had returned back to Robin Hood Drive, where Mr. Dorsey poured gasoline over the engine hood and then lit the gasoline on fire with a possible lighter . . . Officers observed lighters in Mr. Dorsey’s vehicle during his accident (investigation) about an hour later.”
Court records also allege that, during the fire investigation outside the Robin Hood Drive residence on March 4, detectives found Dorsey’s bank debit card lying in the yard.