Woman charged with murder, arson in fatal fire

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A 37-year-old Northwest Baltimore woman was charged with first-degree murder and arson yesterday in an early-morning fire that killed her boyfriend in the apartment the two had shared, police said.

Leonie Barnes of the 3100 block of Thorndale Ave. started the fire in the apartment bedroom during an argument with her boyfriend, 49-year-old Donald Morton, a police spokeswoman said.

Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, the spokeswoman, said investigators were trying to determine whether a fuel was used to start the fire.

Morton was pronounced dead at the apartment, a second-floor unit in the Palmer Court Apartments in the Pimlico area of Baltimore, police said.

Neighbors said the man and woman had at times over the past few years lived together in the Northwest Baltimore apartment, but that their relationship was rocky.

One neighbor, Bernadette Jones, said two young men jumped from a third-floor apartment above the fire scene.

Jones said Barnes was distraught when she escaped the burning apartment, leaving Morton behind.

"She kept saying, 'He's still in there,'" Jones said.

Cook-Hayes said Barnes' 18-year-old son was asleep in the apartment when the fire started. He escaped safely.

Morton's body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, where an autopsy was to be performed, authorities said.

Mike Maybin, a fire department spokesman, said the fire was contained to the apartment, and no one else was injured.

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