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Investigator says suicide victim 'most likely' started fire

Authorities do not know how Harry McMullen got to the Fairview Road home

August 04, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • A 61-year-old man whose remains were found in the debris 10 days after a house fire near Clear Spring in late May died as a result of a suicide, Maryland State Police said Wednesday. Investigators believe Harry McMullen died in the house at 15219 Fairview Road as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Detective Sgt. T. Gregory.
Herald-Mail file photo

It is "most likely" that a man whose remains were found in the debris from a house fire on Fairview Road in May also started the blaze, the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office said Thursday.

Maryland State Police said Wednesday that the man, Harry McMullen, 61, died from suicide as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

While authorities believe McMullen started the fire, they cannot conclusively say what started the blaze because of the damage to the home, said Bruce Bouch, a spokesman for the fire marshal's office.

Bouch said it is hard to determine what started the fire because the debris from the house at 15219 Fairview Road near Clear Spring collapsed into the basement.

It is hard to tell "what was ignited, how it was ignited," he said.

As a result, the state fire marshal's office will close the case and list the cause of the fire as undetermined, Bouch said.

State police investigators interviewed McMullen's friends and determined that he had given away money and other property before his death, state police Detective Sgt. T. Gregory said Wednesday.

 Authorities with the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore also examined some of McMullen's remains as part of the probe into his cause of death, Gregory said.

 McMullen was the husband of Robin McMullen, who leased the house on Fairview Road. But the couple had been in the process of separating, Bouch said previously.

 Robin McMullen was in Iowa for job training when the fire occurred, and she told authorities that no one else should have been in the residence at the time, authorities have said.

 When the fire occurred, there were two cars at the house, but it is believed they were used by Robin McMullen, Bouch said Thursday.

 When Harry McMullen was at the house, usually the tractor-trailer he drove was parked there, Bouch said.

 The truck was not at the house when the fire occurred, Bouch said.

 "At this point, we're not positive of what he utilized to get to the home," Bouch said.

 The fire was discovered at about 5 a.m. on May 27. The house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, Maugansville Fire Chief William Garrett said on the day of the fire.

  On June 7, fire and insurance company investigators discovered McMullen's remains as debris was being removed from the scene.

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