A man has been charged with capital murder for allegedly setting fire to his El Paso, Texas, home with his mother and brother still inside because they did not “follow the Bible,” according to an affidavit.
The man, 40-year-old Phillip Daniel Mills, has an extensive criminal record. His previous convictions include criminal trespassing and evading arrest, according to the local news outlet KTSM.
Several weeks before, 37-year-old Sheena Johnson was accused of committing a similar crime. In early July, Johnson allegedly set fire to her neighbor’s mobile home near London, Kentucky, in what she told investigators was an attempt to “cleanse this place.” Johnson was charged with arson, attempted murder, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, among other misdemeanors and felonies.
Last Thursday, firefighters who had been called to 6001 Fandango Place to put out a fire found a severely burned woman, 82-year-old Florence Annette Mills, walking out of the house, according to an El Paso Police Department press release. While Florence Annette Mills survived her ordeal, she remains in critical condition at an area hospital, KTSM reported.
However, Mills’s older son and Phillip Daniel Mills’s brother, 54-year-old Paul Aaron Mills, weren’t as fortunate. The firefighters managed to rescue him from the house, but he died of his injuries at an area hospital, according to the release.
“Unfortunately … the mom lost her son. She lost two sons because the other one’s going to prison,” Roger Torres, a longtime neighbor, told KFOX14.
Phillip Daniel Mills was suspected of the crime because an officer saw him running in the area around the time the fire began, per the release. When he was taken into custody, he allegedly told a police detective that he wanted to kill his relatives because they did not “follow the Bible,” according to the affidavit.
“He intentionally broke the television located in the living room because he needed to ‘purge the home from ‘evil,” the affidavit reads, KTSM reports. “The defendant state[d] that he left the residence and allowed his mother to be in a ‘happy place’ throughout the day and waited for both his mother and brother to go to bed, before starting the fire.”
Mills allegedly told the detective that he started the fire by pouring gasoline on a sofa.
“Once the sofa caught on fire, he walked outside the house and waited to see if his mother or brother would go outside but they didn’t,” the affidavit reportedly reads. “The defendant advised that he waited outside the residence with large rocks in his hands in the event that both his brother and mother had made it out [of] the burning residence.”
When the detective informed Mills that his mother was still alive, Mills allegedly expressed shock and called it a “‘failed attempt,'” the affidavit reads.