When fire consumed the house on Hoffman Mill Road in Hampstead last month, almost three dozen firefighters spent half an hour extinguishing the flames, but they could not reach 55-year-old Donna Schech in time to save her life.
At the time, it looked like her husband of 19 years, Robert, was lucky to have made it out of the structure alive.
"They found the male homeowner on the outside of the residence sustaining smoke inhalation as well as minor burns to his upper extremities," said Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire on that day in mid-November.
After more than a month-long investigation, it is now believed 69-year old Robert Schech wasn't a victim at all.
Police say he allegedly set the fire to murder his wife.
"It was determined that multiple locations were set on fire in the residence and that prevented with victim in this case from exiting the home," said Cpl. Jon Light of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
According to charging documents, the location of the fires along with the inconsistent statements provided by the defendant paint a picture of premeditated murder.
But at this point, it remains a mystery why the accused would purposefully set the deadly fire, knowing that his wife would burn alive.
"She ended up dying of heat and smoke-related injuries and they were able to charge Robert Schech on Friday in this incident," Light said.
Schech faces a series of charges, including arson and first-degree murder, as well as fraud for trying to file a claim for the fire he had set on the same day with his homeowner's insurance agency.