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Judge: Woman charged with setting fatal Edgewood house fire 'an incredible danger to the community'

Judge: Woman charged with setting fatal Edgewood house fire 'an incredible danger to the community'
Bobbie Sue Hodge, 60, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and arson for allegedly setting the fire May 9 that killed three people inside an Edgewood townhouse where she had lived. (Courtesy Harford County Sheriff's Office)

The woman accused of intentionally setting fire to the Edgewood townhouse where she lived with eight other people — killing three of them — continues to be held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center.

“An individual who is alleged to be capable of setting fire to a structure, a home while others occupied it, and it was connected to other homes, is an incredible danger to the community,” Harford County District Court Judge Kerwin Miller said Wednesday in denying bail for Bobbie Sue Hodge, 60.

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Hodge is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts each of attempted first- and second-degree murder and first-degree arson.

At Wednesday’s bail review hearing, her attorney, public defender Timothy Bahr, said “Miss Hodge maintains her innocence here today.”

Police and fire officials say Hodge allegedly made threats to burn down the home in the days prior to the May 9 fire.

Hodge was arrested Monday after a nearly two-month investigation by the State Fire Marshal, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Bahr said the incident was “obviously horrific” but asked Miller to consider bail for Hodge. Hodge has never failed to appear for court, nor has she ever violated her probation and she has lived in Harford County her entire life, which gives her ties to the community, he said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Timothy Doory said the address Hodge intended to return to if granted bail, in the 1800 block of Simons Court, is the one she is alleged to have burned down.

Hodge left Maryland and fled to Texas after the fire and was arrested when she returned earlier this week, Doory said. She also has connections to North Carolina, Virginia and Montana, with convictions in Texas and Montana, he said. Because of those out-of-state connections, Hodge should be considered a flight risk, he said.

She was also being evicted from the home for arguing with tenants and was on unsupervised probation for assaulting one of the residents, he said.

The charges against Hodge are as serious as they get in Maryland, Doory said. “We intend to prove she burned down the house where she was living and in the process killed three people.”

Ernest Milton Lee, 57, Kimberly Ann Shupe, 47, and Dionne Dominique Hill, 32, all lived on the third floor and died in the fire.

One resident, Marquise St. John, 29, saved himself by kicking out an air conditioning unit and jumping out of the window of the burning home, breaking an arm and a leg, Doory said.

“Another was saved by the truly heroic efforts of firefighters,” he said.

Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, 52, suffered burns to a significant portion of her body, and is continuing to receive medical treatment for her injuries.

In the days before the fire, Hodge allegedly made multiple threats to burn the home and on the night of the fire, she was allegedly seen leaving the second-floor living room at the time of the fire, according to charging documents.One of the residents of the home made a phone call saying that Hodge had set a fire in the townhouse, charging documents show.

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Throughout the investigation, Hodge’s statements before and after the fire were inconsistent, according to the documents.

Investigators determined the fire caused $300,000 damage to the home where the fire started and the five other homes to which the fire extended.

Hodge’s next court date is a preliminary hearing, scheduled for Aug. 1, in Harford County District Court.

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