Local News

Man charged with murder in fatal Carolina Beach condo fires

Posted December 11, 2014

Crews clean up after a fire that killed two women in a condominium complex at Carolina Beach

— A 22-year-old man who was charged in a fatal hit-and-run that killed two people in Wake County 10 months ago was charged Thursday with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with fatal fires that wereset over the weekend in Carolina Beach.

Marshall Hudson Doran, of Kure Beach, has been in jail since Monday after making a first court appearance on an attempted burglary charge. He was being held Thursday without bond.

According to investigators, Doran set three fires early Saturday that tore through two condominiums, killing two women and threatening the lives of others, including a family trapped inside one of the buildings.

According to the 911 calls, each of the three fires, which were set between 3:30 and 4 a.m., involved burning cars.

Darlene Ann Maslar, 43, and Mary Angeline Cochran, 72, died in a fire set at 409 Carolina Beach Ave. South.

New Hanover County District Attorney Benjamin David said he expects to file more charges in the case related to property damage, animals that died in the fires and those who were injured. He also intends to seek a grand jury indictment against Doran.

Doran was out of jail in Wake County on a $500,000 bond on two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, two counts of hit-and-run and one count of driving while impaired in connection with a Feb. 13 hit-and-run killing on Interstate 40 in Garner.

Authorities say Doran was traveling 60 mph through snow and ice when he struck Nathaniel Williams, 34, of Hope Mills, and Larry Kepley, 39, of Winston-Salem. Both men had stopped to help a stranded driver.

Kepley's mother, Sandra Kepley of Thomasville, said Thursday that she was relieved to know Doran was charged in the fire deaths.

"Yes, he needed to be charged," she said.

Her relief was shared by Carolina Beach resident Mary Jane Lane, who owns a motel across the street from where Maslar and Cochran died.

"I really think that somebody who does something like this should be punished severely," she said.

Neighbors said Maslar was originally from Pennsylvania and a member of the American Eskimo Dog Rescue organization. She was often seen walking her two dogs around town.

Cochran was a member of Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church, where her funeral will be held. She had family in Raleigh.

Doran's attorney, Roger Smith Jr., said his client's family has lived in New Hanover County for years and were "absolutely heartbroken and grief-stricken over what happened this past weekend." They were in the courtroom as Doran faced the two murder charges.

As the cleanup at the condos continued Thursday, so did the effort to heal from the emotional scars.

"They've come together very quickly for the people that were displaced and injured, and the victims in general," Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox said. "I couldn't be any prouder of our community."

Many neighbors were praising the efforts of one longtime resident, Vick Gore, who said he woke up at 2 a.m. Saturday and saw the fire in the 400 block of Carolina Beach Avenue South.

Gore got on his bike and started pedaling toward the blaze when he encountered a man leaving the 800 block just after the second fire broke out.

He called 911 and gave a description that helped officers locate Doran.

Jeff Crudin, the prosecutor in the Wake County hit-and-run case, said Doran likely will stay in New Hanover County until he faces trial.

Doran's next court appearance is Jan. 8.


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  • justabumer Dec 12, 2014

    Can you imagine being a parent and raising a child who turns out like this? Sad.

  • Sandi Lynn Dec 12, 2014
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    If proven guilty on these charges, this male should face the death penalty and receive it.

  • Th3 Postm4n Dec 12, 2014

    This guy is all of the words wral bans.

  • Sarah Lewis Dec 12, 2014
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    Wow mom and dad have paid for a wonderful attorney... "Recognized by The National Advocacy for DUI Defense Top 100 DWI attorney in North Carolina, 2014 Recognized by The National Trial Attorneys Top 100 National Trial attorneys, 2014 Business Magazine Legal Elite, 2014"
    Any child or relative of mine will have best public defender they can afford ;)

  • bigsky59 Dec 11, 2014

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    Thinking he same thing. I feel so sorry for his mom, and dad.

  • btneast Dec 11, 2014

    Historically, bond is 10% of bail.....which would have put his bail at $5 million.I think you are a little mixed up. His bond was $500,000. Bail is about 10-15% of the bond....so he would have needed $50,000 to $75,000 cash.....but its really up the bail bond agency, as most folks go through a Bail Bondsman. The Bailbondsman pays the cash, then gets whatever pound of flesh he worked out with the family.

  • Lyle2 Dec 11, 2014

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    Historically, bond is 10% of bail.....which would have put his bail at $5 million.

  • BEACH Dec 11, 2014

    he should not have been out of jail to begin with.

  • Anita Hipps Dec 11, 2014
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    "who is roger smith".....must not be from the Raleigh area......high $$, high profile defense attorney....this kid will break the family in attorney fees.........

  • Tom Smith Dec 11, 2014
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    that didn't take long. he'll get off with a lesser charge because he's white, right? lol quiet down racist