Towson University student, 19, accused of setting fire to man at New Year's party


A 19-year-old McDaniel College freshman was released from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center yesterday after he was set on fire with lighter fluid at a New Year's Eve party, according to state police at the Westminster barracks.

A Towson University student, Russell John Wilkin, 19, of the 700 block of Snowfall Way, north of Westminster, was arrested Tuesday night and was being held yesterday on six charges, including first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of destructive and incendiary devices, police said.

A Carroll District Court commissioner ordered Wilkin held at the Carroll County Detention Center on $100,000 bail.

The victim, Andrew Kirk Lyburn, of the 2300 block of Sykesville Road, Smallwood, sustained second-degree burns, said his father, John T. "Jack" Lyburn, the county's former economic development director and now head of Lyburn Associates, a commercial real estate company.

Lyburn said his son, the suspect and others at the party were acquaintances from Westminster High School, but he said nobody knows why the incident occurred.

State Trooper John H. Linton II, who is investigating the case, said the motive is unclear.

According to the charging documents, Lyburn and Wilkin were at a New Year's Eve party in the 1100 block of Stone Road, talking with others in a group at about 11:30 p.m., when, police allege, Wilkin kicked Lyburn in the groin without provocation, knocking him to the ground.

Wilkin is also accused of approaching Lyburn from behind about 12:15 a.m. Jan. 1 and spraying him with burning lighter fluid for several seconds.

According to the police report, the victim at first flailed at the flames, then extinguished the fire by falling and rolling on the ground.

Lyburn sustained burns on his upper back, left ear and left hand, according to the statement of charges. A friend who assisted him was burned on the hands.

Two other party guests who were talking with Lyburn at the time of the attack took Lyburn to Carroll Hospital Center, where he was treated and released with the recommendation that he go to Bayview, according to the charging documents.

Bayview is home of the Baltimore Regional Burn Center.

Family members took Lyburn to Bayview and then called police.

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