AUGUSTA — A Waterville woman accused of arson for allegedly setting fire to items in her bedroom at a Motivational Services group home last April has been found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial.

A judge on Thursday ordered the arson charges dismissed against Jean M. Rowe, 60, and indicated Rowe is to be placed in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Elizabeth Gray, Rowe’s defense attorney, said Friday that the understanding of those at Thursday’s hearing at the Capital Judicial Center was that placement for Rowe would be up to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Justice Michaela Murphy concluded also that it was unlikely that Rowe would become competent in the future. Rowe has undergone several evaluations by the State Forensic Service.

Rowe has been at Dorothea Dix Psycyhiatric Center while the charges were pending.

She had been indicted on two charges of arson: one alleging intent to damage property and one alleging reckless endangerment of people or property, in connection with the April 3, 2016, fire at 73 Pleasant St. in Waterville.

Fire investigators concluded that the fire started with an open flame in Rowe’s first-floor bedroom at the rear of the home.

Staff members at the group home were able to evacuate everyone and the blaze largely was extinguished by a sprinkler.

Rowe told investigators at the time that she used a lighter to set her mattress and pillow on fire to hurt herself, and no one else, according to an affidavit filed in court by Kenneth MacMaster and investigator with the Office of State Fire Marshal.

Rowe also said she previously had lit a fire in Vassalboro but couldn’t remember when that was. She said she thought the Vassalboro fire occurred at The Gables, which, MacMaster noted, was a residential care facility for people with mental illness that closed in 2015.

When asked what it felt like to set fires, Rowe reportedly said that it makes her feel warm, MacMaster said in the court document. Rowe was scheduled to take her medication that morning, but she had not done so when the smoke alarms in the building sounded.

The affidavit also notes that Rowe suffers from mental health problems and said she set a fire at group home in Vassalboro and might have been involved in another in Saco in 2009, but was never charged.

Rowe’s name appears on a report about a structure fire July 17, 2009, in Saco. The fire, on property operated by Volunteers of America, caused an estimated $350,000 worth of damage. While investigators concluded Rowe was responsible for that blaze, no criminal conviction related to that appears in her record.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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