Austin Martin Crouse


NORTH EAST — A man remained jailed Tuesday after he allegedly set fire to his mother’s hair — purportedly as a joke — during an argument inside her vehicle near North East, according to Cecil County District Court records.

Investigators identified North East-area resident Austin Martin Crouse, 22, as the suspect and reported that Crouse snuffed out the flames with his hand — but not before the deliberately-set fire had singed his mother’s hair.

Maryland State Police Tfc. Rafer, who is assigned to the agency’s North East Barrack, responded to Crouse’s address in the 3300 block of West Pulaski Highway at 5:40 p.m. on Thursday, after receiving a complaint that a person had been “attacked by fire,” court records show.

At the scene, Rafer spoke to Crouse’s 43-year-old mother, who told the trooper that Crouse struck her in the face and threw soda on her while they were arguing inside her vehicle outside that West Pulaski Highway residence, police reported.

“Using a small lighter, (Crouse) then held an open flame to (his mother’s) hair, subsequently igniting it. (Crouse) then panicked and extinguished the flame with his hand,” Rafer outlines in his written statement of probable cause, before noting that he observed “small pieces of burnt hair on (the alleged victim’s) ponytail, corroborating her statement.”

Charging documents indicate that, as the trooper arrested Crouse at the scene, the suspect blurted, “It was an accident. It was a joke.”

Crouse is charged with first-degree assault, which is a felony that is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, if convicted, and second-degree assault, according to court records. Crouse is scheduled for a Nov. 6 preliminary hearing, court records show.

He remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond on Tuesday, four days after his bail review hearing, according to court records.

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