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Police: No Motive For Ocean City Man Who Set Fire To Himself, Local Church

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Ocean City officials say the church fire that killed a local pastor and critically injured a female volunteer was caused by a man who set himself on fire and ran into the church. Police concede they may never know why the man did so.

Investigators say they have no idea what caused 56-year-old John Raymond Sterner to set himself on fire and run into the St. Paul's By the Sea Episcopal Church on Nov. 26, but they have ruled that his actions were deliberate and have thus ruled Rev. David Dingwall's death a homicide.

The Ocean City Fire Marshal's Office believes Sterner purchased gasoline shortly before the Nov. 26 fire and used it as an accelerant to spread the fire from himself to the structure.

A female victim in the fire, Dana Truitt, remains in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center's burn unit.

Mayor Rick Meehan called the incident that has rocked this small coastal community as tragic and almost unimaginable, but as this community heals, police say they doubt they will ever have a motive.


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