Fatal O.C. Fire Caused by Man Who Set Himself Ablaze - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Fatal O.C. Fire Caused by Man Who Set Himself Ablaze

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A WBOC NewsWatcher provided this photo of last week's fire. A WBOC NewsWatcher provided this photo of last week's fire.
(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP/WBOC)- Ocean City officials say a church fire that killed the pastor was caused by a man who put gasoline on himself, set himself on fire and ran into the church ablaze.

The Ocean City Fire Marshal's Office said Tuesday that an investigation showed that 56-year-old John Sterner purchased gasoline shortly before the Nov. 26 fire. Authorities say Sterner then ran into St. Paul's By-The-Sea Episcopal Church, and the fire to spread from him to the structure.

Sterner and the church's pastor, the Rev. David Dingwall, were killed in the fire. The third victim, confirmed by WBOC as 42-year-old Dana Truitt of Ocean City, suffered serious burns and remains at the Johns Hopkins Burn Center in Baltimore. Three other people were able to escape the fire unharmed.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Dingwall's death a homicide and Sterner's death a suicide.

Commenting on Sterner's actions, Capt. Mike Colbert of the Ocean City Police Department said at Tuesday's press conference, "We have no indication that there was any premeditation in the sense that he was singling any individual out. We've found no instance of any kind of malice towards the church."

Colbert went on to say, "We don't have any idea of his motivation other than we are fairly certainly that he intended to take his own life. The aftermath of it, we just don't know if it was an intent or not and honestly, it's one thing we are trying to investigate but I just want to let everyone know that there's a very good possibility that we never may know his true intent."

 

 

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