Anne Arundel County police say they identified the man charged in a Glen Burnie murder and arson after discovering a bag containing items labeled with his name and address at the crime scene — one mile away from his home.
Police charged Jason Butler Nichols, 35, of Glen Burnie Tuesday with first- and second-degree murder and arson in the death of Dennis Lee Perry Sr., 57. Perry’s body was found Monday in his burned-out recreational vehicle by firefighters in a wooded area off Ritchie Highway.
Investigators used the bag of objects to locate Nichols. They said he admitted to being present at the scene when the fire started and identified Perry, according to charging documents.
Nichols also told police he tried to get rid of bloody clothing he was wearing after leaving the spot where the RV and Perry were discovered. Police said some of his statements were inconsistent with investigators’ findings.
A witness told police a white man with a mustache who was wearing a red hat was seen walking away from the area of the fire, according to charging documents. Nichols has a mustache and someone who knows him told police he was wearing a red hat in the hours following the discovery of the fire.
The hat was found at Nichols’ home in the 300 block of Columbus Road during a search by police, according to court records.
Other residents of the home told police that early Monday morning Nichols arrived at the residence in bloody clothing and then washed them. Nichols told investigators he had an argument with the man who lived in the RV and that the person was dead, according to charging documents.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Perry died of blunt force trauma and ruled the death a homicide, police said.
Police said Perry was living in the recreational vehicle at the location of the fire.
Sgt. Jacklyn Davis, police spokeswoman, said firefighters were called to spot at 5:25 a.m. Monday for a report of a fire in a wooded area.
Firefighters found a recreational vehicle “fully engulfed in flames,” Davis said. Once the fire was extinguished, officers at the scene found the body.
Homicide detectives worked in conjunction with the county Fire Marshal's Office in sifting through evidence at the fire scene, police said.
Early Tuesday morning, homicide detectives began executing search warrants. Detectives found Nichols in Catonsville.
Nichols is being held at the Anne Arundel County Jennifer Road Detention Facility without bail. No attorney is listed as representing him in court records.
Nichols was due in court on April 8 to face misdemeanor drug possession charges and again on May 8 after he was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and intoxicated endangerment in January.
In addition, he was charged after a Nov. 16 accident on the Baltimore Beltway and Interstate 97, court records show. Over the past 10 years, he has faced a variety of assault, burglary, drunk driving and drug possession charges in four counties and Baltimore city, court records show.
Many times, prosecutors opted to drop the charges or place them on an inactive docket.
Police asked anyone with information to call 410-222-4731 or leave an anonymous tip at 410-222-4700 or Metro Crime Stoppers.
Phil Davis contributed to this story.