EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A 40-year-old man arrested for allegedly setting a West Side home on fire is charged with capital murder after his brother was killed in the incident.
The El Paso Police Department says Philip Daniel Mills set fire to a residence located at 6001 Fandango Place on Thursday at 11:30 p.m. He was arrested after police suspected him of causing the blaze.
An affidavit written by an EPPD detective says Mills allegedly admitted to setting the house on fire. And, in a recorded statement, claimed to have used gasoline from a weed eater to fuel the fire.
Mills poured the gasoline on a sofa in the living room and used a lit cloth to start the fire, according to the document.
“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 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 the burning residence.”
A neighbor told KTSM he noticed Mills acting strange earlier in the day and said he was always “troublesome.”
“He was bad news, all he would do was sit out there and drink and smoke and I noticed he was back to his old routine,” Roger Torres, a neighbor, said.
Torres said Mills was always coming and going from out of town. He said he noticed the house in flames around 11 p.m.
The affidavit claims Mills caused the fire because he was upset with his brother and mother because they did not follow the Bible. The document states Mills intentionally broke a television in the living room and threatened to burn the house down.
“He intentionally broke the television located in the living room because he needed to ‘purge the home from ‘evil,” Mills allegedly told police. “The defendant state 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.”
His brother, Paul Aaron Mills, 54, died after suffering severe burns, police say. Firefighters pulled him from the residence and he was transported to a hospital where he died. The affidavit states he was found in the living room and was transported to University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
“When we found out only two were transported we thought ‘what happened to the other brother’ there were three (people) so I thought, in my opinion, he had something to do with it,” Torres said.
El Paso firefighters found Florence Annette Mills, 82, walking out of the residence with burns. The affidavit says she was taken to a hospital in Lubbock and is listed in critical condition.
Torres said Mills was involved with the police before.
“They called the police department on him cause he stripped naked and he was drinking,” Torres said.
Criminal records show Mills had an extensive criminal record, including criminal trespass and evading arrest.
“I should have probably took it upon myself to call the police because they could’ve done something,
maybe it could’ve been a difference if law enforcement had come out and talked to him,” Torres said.
The affidavit states officers told Mills his brother had died and his mother was injured in the fire during an interview.
“The defendant then laughed and advised the investigators that he was shocked that both his mother and brother did not perish and called it a ‘failed attempt.”
Police say they saw Mills was found running in the area and told police his office was on fire, a news release says. The El Paso Police Department’s Crimes Against Persons and Fire Department marshals are investigating the incident.
Detectives arrested Mills after obtaining an arrest warrant for capital murder and arson. He is awaiting to be booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility.