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Four people arrested in fire at Painters Mill


Baltimore County police have arrested an Owings Mills

woman, her boyfriend and two escaped convicts in connection with the four-alarm fire that destroyed the Painters Mill Theatre early Monday, authorities said yesterday.

Bradley D. Spitler, 19, and William E. Harlow Jr., 20, who escaped Sunday from the state prison system's central laundry in Sykesville, were being held yesterday at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup.

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a police spokesman, said they will charged with escape, breaking and entering, arson, and stealing a truck, blowtorch and tanks of acetylene and oxygen from a Carroll County construction site.

The torch was used to break into the theater and open the safe, which contained no money or valuables.

Debra A. Mann, 23, and her boyfriend, Freddie L. Ferguson, 28, also of Owings Mills, have been charged with breaking and entering. Sergeant Doarnberger said they did not go into the theater, but had helped haul away a radio and beer stolenfrom the theater.

Ms. Mann was released on $500 bond. Mr. Ferguson was being held yesterday at the Garrison precinct pending a bail review.

Hours after the fire was extinguished, an anonymous caller telephoned police with information that placed Ms. Mann and Mr. Ferguson at the theater with two others before the fire, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

Within two days of the fire, Harlow was arrested in Anne Arundel County and Spitler was found hiding in the attic of his sister's home in the Carroll County town of Union Bridge. Police said items stolen from the theater were also found there.

Spitler and Harlow escaped from the minimum-security central laundry by climbing over a fence, authorities said. Harlow was serving 19 months for theft, and Spitler six years for breaking PTC and entering.

Authorities believe the men were picked up by an accomplice after their escape.

Sergeant Doarnberger said police still do not know whether the fire, which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, was set on purpose or by accident while the burglars were using the blowtorch to open the theater's safe.

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