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Robert Schech denied bail in arson, murder case

The Hampstead man arrested in relation to the house fire that killed a woman last month will remain in jail without bail.

The Hampstead man accused of starting the house fire that killed his wife last month will remain in jail without bail.

At a bail review hearing in Carroll County District Court on Monday morning, retired Baltimore County Judge Alexandra Williams ordered Robert Charles Schech Sr., 69, continue to be held at the Carroll County Detention Center without bail.

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Investigators believe Robert Schech set multiple fires inside his home in the 2600 block of Hoffman Mill Road in Hampstead last month in order to trap his wife, Donna Schech, inside and charged him Friday with first- and second-degree murder, first-degree arson, malicious burning and fraud.

During the investigation, detectives with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office discovered Schech called his homeowner's insurance agency to make a claim based on the fire. Investigators determined Schech set the fires based on the insurance call, the location of the fires and Schech's inconsistent statements, according to a statement of probable cause.

Donna Schech died of heat- and smoke-related injuries in the early morning Nov. 13 fire, according to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. She was 55.

Attorney Haven Shoemaker, who is also a state delegate for District 5, represented Robert Schech at Monday's bail review hearing, and asked for him to be released. Shoemaker said, at this point, he was only representing Schech for the bail review. Electronic court records did not list an attorney for Schech as of 1 p.m. Monday.

Schech is almost 70 years old, Shoemaker said during the hearing, has significant ties to the community and health issues. Shoemaker also said Schech would consent to supervision, if he were to be released, adding that he wasn't a flight risk.

Prosecutor Allan Culver did not agree.

Robert Charles Schech Sr. was arrested Dec. 16 and charged with setting the fire that killed his wife. <a href="http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/news/crime/ph-cc-schech-arson-murder-20161216-story.html" target="_blank">Full story here</a>.
Robert Charles Schech Sr. was arrested Dec. 16 and charged with setting the fire that killed his wife. Full story here. (Submitted photo / HANDOUT)

Preliminary investigations have shown the fire had multiple points of origin, Culver said, and they believe it was set in a way to prevent his wife from exiting the home.

When there's a fire, there are certain points of ignition, Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce Bouch explained in a phone interview following Monday's hearing.

Typically, a fire starts in one place and will spread, he said. When investigating, they are able to tell if there was more than one place of origin, Bouch said. It's unnatural if there's a fire somewhere that could not have gotten there from that first point of origin.

"That's a pretty good indicator that there's multiple fires set," Bouch said.

Williams agreed with the prosecution's arguments Monday morning, granting the request of no bail.

"These are certainly very troubling charges," Williams said. "This is a no bail case."

A preliminary hearing for Schech is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 11 in District Court, according to electronic court records.

emily.chappell@carrollcountytimes.com

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