Death of man in Gaithersburg townhouse fire investigated as a homicide

Montgomery County police said they are investigating the suspicious death of a 63-year-old man in a townhouse fire last week as a homicide.

Police said the body of Steven Skalabrin was discovered last Wednesday hours after a two-alarm fire on Windjammer Way in Gaithersburg was put out the previous night.

Montgomery County Police Capt. Darren Francke said Skalabrin lived as a tenant in the basement of the home with two other roommates.

Several other occupants of the home, including the victim's roommates, were rescued by firefighters on the night of the fire.

Investigators have returned to the home to gather more evidence.

"Because of the fire, it's very difficult to get inside of the structure," said Capt. Francke. "Fire and Rescue has worked with us and collaborated to shore up the inside of the townhome so that we can get in with their fire marshals to work on determining the cause of the fire and also with our forensics people and homicide investigators to further look at the scene to see what evidence we can find."

An autopsy has been conducted on Skalabrin, but Francke said police have not received a ruling on it.

When asked what made this death seem suspicious, Capt. Francke responded, "Observations on the scene and observations at autopsy."

A friend describes Skalabrin as a nice guy who recently joined the Mormon church and was excited about his new journey. But the 63-year-old had some health challenges after suffering a automobile accident.

"I know that Steve had a hard time maneuvering - he had a cane, his legs were not very strong and because he had been in an accident that damaged his shins," his friend said.

Federal investigators are helping analyze the scene of the fire and will remain involved in the investigation.

Police are working to put together a timeline of Skalabrin's activities that day and are asking anyone with information to call them.