Too-well-done remote control leads to Portland woman's arson indictment

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PORTLAND — A woman prosecutors believe was angry at a guest at a downtown hotel allegedly started a fire that caused more than $2,700 in damage when she cooked a TV remote control in a hotel-room microwave oven.

Kaylee Howland, 21, of 87 Cumberland Ave., was indicted on a Class A arson charge March 7 by a Cumberland County grand jury. She is scheduled to appear April 16 in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Docket.

An indictment is a determination there is enough evidence for a trial, not a finding of guilt.

In court records, city Police Detective Brian Letarte said the incident occurred around noon Dec. 14, 2013, after Howland and a companion met a man and his friend outside the Hampton Inn at 209 Fore St. earlier that morning.

The guest said he had been at a corporate holiday party before ending up at the hotel. After the men rented rooms, Howland and her companion were invited in and agreed to be paid  a price for their companionship. But the guest discovered he left his debit card at a bar, and could not pay the women. He told police they left the hotel around 4 a.m.

Letarte said the women returned later in the morning and went with the guest to  retrieve his credit card. Hotel video showed the women re-entered the hotel room together around 11:50 a.m. About 10 minutes later, Howland and her companion were recorded leaving the room, just before the smoke detector went off.

Howland, who was identified in the video by police and then by the guest in a photo lineup, also allegedly left the guest a voicemail message saying the microwaved remote was “pay back.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.