ROYAL OAK (WWJ/AP) – An Oakland County man has been ordered to submit to a psychiatric examination to see if he is competent to stand trial in connection with a house fire and explosion that killed his 69-year-old mother.
Timothy Beetschen, 50, was unable to attend Friday’s hearing because he is still being treated for burns to his legs. However, District Judge Terrence Brennan still granted a defense attorney’s request that Beetschen be examined by psychiatrists. A preliminary examination was rescheduled for Sept. 5.
Beetschen is charged with open murder and first degree arson in connection with the death of his mother, Maxine Hadley. Authorities say the fatal fire may have been caused by an exploded propane tank.
Investigators say Hadley called Royal Oak police around 1 a.m. on May 23 to report that her son was attempting to blow up their house in the 1700 block of Altadena, in a neighborhood just east of Main Street and 12 Mile Road.
When officers arrived on the scene, the home was engulfed in flames and Beetschen was attempting to put out the fire with a garden hose.
Officers attempted to gain entry into the home, but were forced back by the heat and smoke. Fire crews responded to the scene and found Hadley’s body in the basement.
Beetschen was arrested at the scene and transported to the hospital for treatment of burns to his legs. No other injuries were reported.
Neighbor Matthew Bainter told WWJ’s Charlie Langton he was at the home, drinking with Beetschen shortly before the incident.
“We were just watching television,” he said. “We had a couple of cold beers and he wanted more and more and more and we were telling him ‘No, you need to go relax and lay down. It’s time to go to bed. It’s getting late.’”
Bainter said that’s when things started to take a turn for the worse.
“He got unruly and he was downstairs, smashing up things and getting out of control,” he said. “[He took] a gas canister, which you would use as a settling torch, because he was a plumber one time, and he was throwing it on the ground. You know, I told him ‘That thing is like a bomb. It’s going to go off.’”
Bainter said at that point, he ran upstairs to warn Hadley about what was happening, but she apparently refused to leave the home.
“I told her ‘We’ve got to get out of this house, it’s going to blow up,’” he said. “At that time, I opened the front door, went out and then I went to my left to see the basement window and sure enough, the whole basement was engulfed in flames and the rest is history.”
Beetschen is currently being held without bond. He faces life in prison if convicted as charged.
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