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Woman charged in arson


An Edgewater woman has been arrested and charged with setting a fire at a house with children in it during a domestic argument Tuesday night, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

While on the telephone about 6:30 p.m. with her live-in boyfriend, Betty Dylinna Sutphin, 33, became irritated, police said. She is accused of setting fire to a pile of his clothes in the couple's bedroom, authorities said.

Three children - ages 4, 7 and 14 - were in the Welch's Drive home at the time of the fire, police and fire officials said. No one was injured, fire officials said, but the short-lived blaze caused $5,000 in damage to the house and $500 in damage to the boyfriend's clothes.

When smoke began to fill the house and triggered two smoke detectors, Sutphin told the 14-year-old girl to take the batteries out of the devices, said Division Chief John M. Scholz, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. The girl complied, Scholz said.

The younger two children share the boyfriend's last name, and the older child shares the girlfriend's last name.

Police said boyfriend Steven Gilmer Foster Jr., 49, arrived at the home during the fire, helped Sutphin and the 14-year-old extinguish it, and drove off with his 7-year-old son.

Sutphin was punched while Foster was at the house, and Anne Arundel County police arrested him yesterday morning on a charge of second-degree assault.

Sutphin was arrested at the scene of the fire and has been charged with one count of first-degree arson, one count of malicious burning and three counts of reckless endangerment, Scholz said.

The maximum penalty for the arson charge, a felony, is a $50,000 fine or 30 years in prison or both.

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