ELKTON — A woman stands charged with attempted murder and other offenses after she allegedly set fire to an Elkton townhouse — while it was occupied by two people — because she had been evicted from that residence, according to Cecil County District Court records.
No one was injured during the incident, which occurred over the weekend in the 100 block of Pheasant Drive, police reported.
Another resident of that dwelling was able to extinguish the flames before they could spread into the townhouse, police said. The flames had prevented the two people inside the home — a woman and her 87-year-old grandmother — from escaping through the front door, police added.
Investigators identified Zillah Marie Jones, 22, as the suspect.
In addition to two counts of attempted second-degree murder, Jones is charged with first-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning, reckless endangerment, attempted fourth-degree burglary and trespassing, court records show.
Jones remained in the Cecil County Detention Center on no bond Monday, after her bail review hearing, according to court records, which indicate that she is scheduled for a Dec. 6 preliminary hearing.
The investigation leading to Jones’ arrest started at approximately 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, when Elkton Police Department officers and a Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal detective responded to the 100 block of Pheasant Drive after receiving a report regarding a house fire, police said.
A Singerly Volunteer Fire Company representative informed the MOSFM investigator that the fire had been extinguished by the time firefighters arrived, police added.
The property owner, who was not on the premises at the time, told investigators over the phone that she had evicted Jones, who had been staying at that Pheasant Drive townhouse for the past couple of days, court records show.
One of the residents of that townhouse told investigators that he saw Jones attempting to enter the residence, as he was leaving, and that she was “visually upset and (that she) was yelling at the occupants,” police said.
As he was walking back to the townhouse about 10 minutes later, after he had walked down the street to speak with neighbors, he saw fire around the front door and Jones leaving the property, police added.
Charging documents indicate that that resident asked Jones, “What did you do, set a fire over there?” and she replied, “Yes,” and then kept on walking away from the scene.
“(That resident) stated he ran to the house and observed fire on the side of the house next to the front door. (He) stated there was a gas can on fire on the ground next to the front door,” court records allege.
Police reported that that resident grabbed a garden hose, which he used to spray water until he had extinguished the blaze, and then moved the gas can away from the townhouse, police reported.
Investigators also interviewed another resident of that townhouse — the daughter of the property owner — and she, too, reported that Jones had been evicted after staying at that residence approximately two days, court records show.
That witness told investigators that she locked the door after Jones left the townhouse at approximately 5:30 p.m. Saturday, police said. When Jones returned about 30 to 45 minutes later, she “starting banging on the door and was yelling to get back into the house,” according to that witness’ account, police added.
At that point, that witness called her mother and put her on speaker phone so Jones could hear, according to court records. The mother then reiterated to Jones on speaker phone that she was “not allowed back in the house,” court records show.
That witness then shut the front door, went into another part of the townhouse to retrieve Jones’ belongings and then returned to the front door about one minute later — with the intent of giving Jones’ personal property to her, police reported.
“(That witness) saw fire coming from under the front door. She stated that she attempted to open the front door; however, the door knob was hot,” according to the charging document.
That witness then escorted her grandmother into the kitchen, away from the blaze, police said. That witness was getting ready to battle the blaze, when the occupant who had been outside the townhouse opened the front door and reported that he had extinguished the fire, police added.