White Elk Motel Arsonist Sentenced to 9 Years

Barry Lee Murphy pleaded guilty to setting the fire. No one was hurt but the blaze caused $100,000 in damages.

The man who pleaded guilty to setting the December 2011 fire at the White Elk Motel was sentenced Friday to spend nine years in prison, according to a spokesman from the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office.

 in July to one count of first-degree arson. Murphy, who investigators determined was homeless, was also ordered to pay the motel $1,000 to cover its insurance deductible according to T. Wayne Kirwan, spokesperson for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. Murphy was also ordered to undergo drug, alcohol, and mental health treatment.

Police said that at about 9 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2011, the room where an assault reportedly had previously occurred caught fire.

No one was in the room when the blaze started and no one was hurt, according to fire officials. The prosecutor's office said that the fire caused more than $100,000 in damages to the motel.

On the morning of the fire, a woman was reportedly assaulted at the motel but when officers arrived, the woman could not be found, police said. At about 9 p.m., the room where the woman had been staying went up in flames.

Investigators knew Murphy was an “associate” of the woman who reportedly had been assaulted. After an investigation, they determined that Murphy had been in the room with the woman earlier in the day. Police alleged that Murphy had returned to the room to remove some of her belongings before setting it on fire.

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