Batteries, glasses and “a number of paper materials” were found in an oven, which was on and set to 500 degrees when fire personnel came to extinguish a small blaze at a Lexwood Court apartment in Lexington Park early last Sunday morning, according to charging papers filed against the suspected arsonist.
Mark Darnell Brown Jr., 30, of Lexington Park admitted to setting the June 14 fire while being treated at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown following the incident, charging papers say, due to his recent disagreements with his ex-girlfriend, whom he lived with at the apartment.
“When I set fire to the house I could not breathe from the smoke and lost consciousness and blacked out,” Brown told Cpl. Kenneth Flerlage of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office in the hospital, according to charging papers. “When I woke up, I left the residence.”
Fire marshal Deputy Josh Matthews arrived at the scene of the extinguished small stovetop fire at about 5:30 a.m. that day, around when Brown had already been placed in custody by officers at the Sheetz on Great Mills Road, according to charging papers.
After documenting the packed oven, Matthews spoke with Brown’s ex-girlfriend, Daria Whitley, charging papers say, who told Matthews she had attempted to cease communications with Brown but received messages regarding “items within her home,” and at about 4 a.m. that morning, Brown’s sister had informed Whitley “that Brown was at the apartment and was ready to put batteries in the oven to set the house on fire,” and that she had already contacted police.
At the hospital, Brown told lawmen it was a “good thing you guys found me now, because later you would have to shoot me,” charging papers say, later saying that seeing her with another man upset him, and “that if he can’t have her no one can.”
“During our conversation, Brown advised that he put items into the oven and tossed a number of items around the home,” Matthews wrote in charging papers.
Brown was arrested on a warrant following his stint at the hospital, and was charged with first-degree arson, malicious burning in the first degree, and destruction of property.
He has been ordered to be held without bail, and is being examined by the state health department for mental competency to stand trial, according to court records.