Suspected serial arsonist who killed self was war vet

June 22, 2011 4:34:29 PM PDT
We are learning more about the man police believe was responsible for more than two dozen fires across southwest Houston over the past year and a half.

His name was Stanley White. He died after jumping off a bridge while running from authorities early Tuesday morning.

For the longest time, the only images of a suspected arsonist came from a grainy surveillance video showing a man approaching a southwest Houston home, setting a fire, and as he runs off, he hops into what was thought to be a Chevrolet Dually.

Well, authorities say they found that same truck at a Monday night arson fire. It's the same vehicle the suspect then parked on an overpass and jumped to his death.

We talked to the suspect's distraught father who, apologizes for anything his son might have done.

A father's youngest son ended his life on a Highway 59 overpass early Tuesday morning. A son, his dad says, risked his life serving his country as a veteran.

But the veteran is also suspected of setting fires throughout southwest Houston.

"What he is being accused of is not the child that we raised," said his father.

The distraught father wishes to stay private but says his 28-year-old son, who lived with him was an outgoing young man when he entered the military.

Stanley served six years, including two years in the Iraq war, earning an honorable discharge.

However, his father says, his son returned a different man.

"He wasn't the outgoing young man that we had raised. He was different," his father said. "He became aloof and distant. He kept to himself basically."

His son was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and received therapy and medication as a disabled vet.

Doctors who treat the anxiety-based disorder say the symptoms affect victims differently.

"People who have PTSD can tend to have more difficulty with anger control and feeling more irritable," said Dr. Robert Garza, director of the Trauma Recovery Program.

No one will know what could have pushed him to possibly set fire to an apartment complex Monday night.

White was being watched by fire investigators when he pulled up to the building near Memorial on Bateswood. Seconds later, a fire broke out.

He left in a Chevrolet Dually, a vehicle that matched surveillance video and suspected in almost 30 fires. But during the chase he stopped his truck on the overpass and jumped, falling more than 70 feet.

It something, as well as being an arson suspect, his father will never understand.

"He wasn't that kid and if he did something I'm sorry," his father said.

White's father and mother are now planning funeral arrangements for their son.

Meanwhile, the Houston Fire Department's arson unit is still working to pull any possible evidence from the White's Chevrolet dually spotted at the scene.

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