UPDATE: Man Responsible For OC Fire Had History Of Mental Illnes - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

UPDATE: Man Responsible For OC Fire Had History Of Mental Illness

Posted: Updated:
56-year-old John Raymond Sterner, of Ocean City 56-year-old John Raymond Sterner, of Ocean City
Rev. David Dingwall Rev. David Dingwall

OCEAN CITY, Md. – The man responsible for last week's church fire had a history of mental illness, according to Ocean City police. Spokesperson Lindsay O' Neal says officers came in contact with 56-year-old John Raymond Sterner twice in the past few months, where upon he displayed signs of "emotional and mental crisis." In both of those incidents, officers reportedly transported Sterner to Peninsula Regional Medical Center for evaluation per departmental protocol.

In a press conference Tuesday, investigators said they may never find a motive.

"We have no indication that there was any premeditation, in a sense that he was singling any individual out. We found no kind of instance of malice towards the church so far. Of course, that's still an avenue that we're trying to exhaust. There's a very good possibility that we may never know his actual true intent, and what he intended to do as far as the church and other people that day," OCPD Captain Michael Colbert said.

Police say surveillance video captured at a nearby Shell gas station shows Sterner purchasing gasoline in a red container. Approximately 25 minutes later, investigators say he doused his body with gasoline, ignited himself then walked straight into the church's food pantry – coming in contact with Dana Truitt, a church volunteer who is still in the hospital in critical condition.

The Ocean City Fire Department responded to the fire at the rectory building of St. Paul's by the Sea, around 9:25 AM on Tuesday, November 26th at 302 North Baltimore Avenue. Investigators say the fire started on Sterner, of Ocean City. Officials say the gasoline acted as an accelerant, which lead the fire the spread quickly. Sterner was found dead inside of the building when the Fire Department arrived. Ocean City Fire Marshal's Office has classified the cause of the blaze as "incendiary."

The fire also claimed the life the church's Reverend, David Dingwall, who was found on the second floor of the building unconscious, surrounded by heavy smoke and heat. He was transported to Atlantic General Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. Dozens of community members lined up Tuesday afternoon to attend his funeral at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Ocean City.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Rev. Dingwall's cause of death as homicide caused by smoke inhalation, while Sterner's cause of death was ruled as suicide by way of thermal burns and smoke inhalation.

Police say Truitt was injured, while trying to get out of the Shepard's Crook facility during the fire. She is reportedly still being treated at John's Hopkins Bayview Medical Center at this time.

Officials say that the worship center and the Red Doors Community Center which are located within St. Paul's by the Sea, experienced minimal damages. The first and second floor office, have significant smoke and overhaul damage throughout the first floor of the rectory building.

"Our community has experienced unimaginable tragedy," said Mayor Rick Meehan. "Our community, as a whole, mourns the loss of Father David. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this very sad time. He will be forever remembered for making Ocean City a better place."

  • ContestsMore>>

  • VP Shoes Back to School Contest

    VP Shoes Back to School Contest

    Friday, August 15 2014 12:02 AM EDT2014-08-15 04:02:20 GMT
    Winner announced on WMDT 47 News at 12PM on 8/22/14 No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Odds of winning dependent on number of entries received. Contest Dates: August 15, 2014 – AugustMore >>
    Winner announced on WMDT 47 News at 12PM on 8/22/14 No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Odds of winning dependent on number of entries received. Contest Dates: August 15, 2014 – AugustMore >>
  • Teacher Who Makes A Difference

    Teacher Who Makes A Difference

    The WMDT 47 Teachers Who Make a Difference Contest is Sponsored by Accurate Optical: "Encouraging children of all ages to come in for an annual eye exam to help them see better in school." Each month weMore >>
    The WMDT 47 "Teachers Who Make a Difference" Sponsored by Accurate Optical Encouraging children of all ages to come in for an annual eye exam to help them see better in school.More >>
  • Free Tuition Contest

    Free Tuition Contest

  • Local NewsDelmarva HeadlinesMore>>

  • Fmr. VA Governor To Address Marriage At Trial

    Fmr. VA Governor To Address Marriage At Trial

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:04 AM EDT2014-08-21 12:04:49 GMT
    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will answer questions about the state of his marriage when his public corruption trial resumes in federal court in Richmond.    McDonnell took theMore >>
    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will answer questions about the state of his marriage when his public corruption trial resumes in federal court in Richmond.    McDonnell took theMore >>
  • Two Men Charged After A Pedestrian Was Hit In Ocean City

    Two Men Charged After A Pedestrian Was Hit In Ocean City

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:01 AM EDT2014-08-21 12:01:18 GMT
    OCEAN CITY, Md. -  Two men were arrested over the weekend after allegedly hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene in Ocean City.Police say when they arrived at the scene on 55th St. and Coastal HighwayMore >>
    OCEAN CITY, Md. -  Two men were arrested over the weekend after allegedly hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene in Ocean City.Police say when they arrived at the scene on 55th St. and Coastal HighwayMore >>
  • Hashtag "X" Campaign Promotes Anti-Texting/Driving

    Hashtag "X" Campaign Promotes Anti Texting/Driving

    Thursday, August 21 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-08-21 04:45:09 GMT
    SALISBURY, Md. - A twist on an anti-texting while driving campaign is urging teenagers to combine two things they arguably know best: texting and tweeting - neither done while driving, of course.More >>
    SALISBURY, Md. - A new twist on an "anti-texting while driving" campaign is urging teenagers to combine two things they arguably know better anyone: texting and tweeting - neither done while driving, ofMore >>
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Maryland Man Charged With DUI After Reported .22 BAC

    Maryland Man Charged With DUI After Reported .22 BAC

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 1:21 PM EDT2014-08-20 17:21:15 GMT
    WEST OCEAN CITY, Md. - Police say alcohol was to blame for an early morning hit and run crash. Maryland State Police - Berlin Barrack says with help from Worcester County Sheriff's Office Deputies, they responded to Bowline Lane in West Ocean City for a reported hit and run collision. Once on scene, Troopers and Deputies found that 30-year-old Ryan Orndorff, of Clarksville, Maryland, was driving a 2008 Ford pick-up truck, when he hit another vehicle while trying to park.More >>
    WEST OCEAN CITY, Md. - Police say alcohol was to blame for an early morning hit and run crash. Maryland State Police - Berlin Barrack says with help from Worcester County Sheriff's Office Deputies, they responded to Bowline Lane in West Ocean City for a reported hit and run collision. Once on scene, Troopers and Deputies found that 30-year-old Ryan Orndorff, of Clarksville, Maryland, was driving a 2008 Ford pick-up truck, when he hit another vehicle while trying to park.More >>
  • Homeless Sex Offenders

    Homeless Sex Offenders

    DELAWARE - Individuals featured in this slideshow are NOT wanted. They are sex offenders who have registered with Delaware State Police as homeless. These are public notifications.More >>
    DELAWARE - Individuals featured in this slideshow are NOT wanted. They are sex offenders who have registered with Delaware State Police as homeless. These are public notifications.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WMDT. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.