Woman Found Guilty Of Arson For 2019 Edgewood Fire That Killed 4
HARFORD COUNTY — A Harford County jury has found a 63-year-old Edgewood woman guilty of multiple charges relating to the deaths of four people in a 2019 townhome fire.
According to a press release, Bobbie Sue Hodge was convicted of arson in the first degree, four counts of felony murder, and three counts of assault in the second degree.
Hodge now faces a maximum penalty of four life sentences plus 60 years for the fatal blaze from May 9, 2019, at 1862 Simons Court in Edgewood.
State's attorney for Harford County, Ernest Lee, was living on the third floor of the townhouse on Simons Court when the fire broke out. He called 911 to report a fire shortly before 2:30 a.m. on May 9, 2019.
By the time the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene, the third floor was completely engulfed in flames.
Ernest Lee, Dionne Hill, and Kimberly Shupe, who were on the third floor, died in the fire.
Another third-floor resident was able to escape by jumping out of his third-floor bedroom window. He suffered a broken ankle and arm.
Hodge and two other residents in the basement escaped the fire. Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, who was living on the second floor, was rescued by firefighters and taken to an area hospital for treatment. She succumbed to her injuries on January 22, 2020.
Nine people lived in the house at the time of the blaze, and according to officials, eight were home when the fire broke out.
Officials interviewed numerous witnesses, including the occupants of the house, the neighbors, and Hodge herself, to determine that Hodge was responsible for the tragic fire. The jury trial started on October 5, and a verdict was reached on October 24.
Albert J. Peisinger Jr., state's attorney for Harford County, expressed his condolences to the victims' families.
"This tragedy shocked our Harford County community," he said. "I hope that this verdict is a first step towards healing for the surviving victims and the families of those who lost loved ones."
According to Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci, the townhouse was operating as an "illegal group home."
To comply with Maryland code, Geraci told the Bel Air Patch that the townhouse needed a complete residential sprinkler system, fire alarm, and smoke alarms throughout the house, including in the sleeping areas.
"If a sprinkler system was in place, these folks would not have lost their lives," Geraci said.