EASTVIEW, Md. (WJZ)—A heartbreaking twist in a story we first reported Wednesday night. A Baltimore County house fire is ruled an arson. Investigators say it started after a woman’s son set her on fire.
Weijia Jiang has more on this disturbing case.
Maybe even more troubling, WJZ has learned through court records, the victim had gotten a protective order against her son that was in effect until September. But what she feared came true.
Firefighters brought Teresa Hamel, 47, to safety from the East Baltimore Street rowhouse with the green awning. Margaret Pfeifer lives next door.
“I knew something was wrong. Police came and they told me there was a fire,” Pfeifer said.
Police say Hamel suffered severe burns at the hands of her 23-year-old son, Gordon Jenkins, who they say attacked her beforehand.
“Her son walked up behind her and actually began to choke her,” said Lt. Robert McCullough, Baltimore County Police. “Sometime during the course of her being choked, she lost consciousness. Sometime while she was unconscious her son set her bedroom and clothing on fire.”
Neighbor Clara Simon says her son watched the rescue unfold.
“He said ‘Mom, you don’t wanna go down there, you don’t want to see her,’” Simon said. “My son said her face was burnt, her hands were burnt, her feet were burnt.”
Investigators say Hamel’s elderly mother, who also lives in the house, was able to escape without injuries.
WJZ found family members surveying the damage to the house on Thursday. Too emotional to speak on camera, they call what happened a “terrible tragedy.”
“How would anybody do that to their mother? I said to my son, ‘Could you do that to me?’ He said ‘I don’t think so,’” Simon said.
Police say Hamel is recovering at Johns Hopkins Bayview in critical but stable condition. Her son is behind bars, bail denied.
Jenkins faces first-degree attempted murder and arson charges. He’ll likely be charged for violating the protective order, too.
Jenkins’ preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 15.