A 63-year-old Maine man lit his estranged wife’s house on fire before killing himself with a knife in front of emergency personnel responding to the early Christmas Day blaze, authorities said.
Terry Whitney and his wife had been separated since he was charged with criminal mischief and domestic violence on Oct. 31. He had been court ordered to stay away from their former Fairfield home where his ex still lives, Police Capt. Paul St. Amand told Portland Press Herald.
But in the pre-dawn hours of Christmas Day, Whitney drove to the home he used to share with his wife, cut power to the house and took out a propane torch along with a tank of gasoline from his truck.
Dressed in a bulky set of dark clothes, Whitney then set fire to his truck before dousing two sides of his old home in gas and lighting it on fire using the torch. His wife, who was inside, dialed 911 and managed to escape unharmed.
Responding firemen discovered large flames licking against both sides of the house and spreading quickly. The first officer to arrive tried to confront Whitney after spotting him running towards the rear of the home.
After Whitney ignored shouted commands, the officer deployed his stun gun, which proved ineffective due to the suspect’s bulky clothing.
As more officers arrived, Whitney suddenly took out a knife and sliced himself by the neck. He was rushed to an area hospital, but could not be saved.