Matthew Brian White
A family drama reached its climax early on Thursday morning when the 41-year-old American set fire to the family home and subsequently hanged himself.
A neighbour raised the alarm and called the fire brigade at around 03:00. Several firefighters and fire engines scrambled to the scene. Rescuers and paramedics were accompanied by police officers from the Sattahip Provincial Police Station.
Rushing down Soi Sataheep Sukumvit 13 in Chon Buri’s Sattahip district, one of the firefighters at the scene as said: “There were no street lights or other sources of light out there. It would normally be in complete darkness, but we knew we had reached the right place because the house was in flames at the end of the soi.”
The house, which Thairath’s journalists say did not have an obvious house number, was the home of the White family: 41-year-old Matthew Brian White, his wife Dorothy White, son Ethan White and their only daughter Mayrisa White.
Talking to firefighters on the scene, Farang Deaths discovered that the fire looked as if it had been set intentionally rather than as a result of an accident. “After we extinguished the fire, we came across a body and some strange writing on the wall,” claimed another firefighter who wished to remain anonymous. Mr White’s family was not on the scene, and no further bodies were found.
The body of Mr White, a US citizen, was found dangling from a ten-metre high water tower, wearing only military shorts. He had somehow attached a nylon cord to the roof of the tower and jumped in with his hands had been handcuffed behind his back.
Superintendent of the Sattahip Provincial Police Station, Pol Col Chalotorn Brembri, was assigned to the case. Even though the investigation has not yet been concluded, he made a statement saying that the “evidence strongly pointed to suicide as the cause of death”.
Pol Col Chalotorn later explained: “It looks like Mr White committed suicide by jumping off the water tower with a rope around his neck.” He went on to say that a photograph of his tongue hanging out of his mouth suggested that his neck did not break and that he was panting for air during his last moments. He would have died of strangulation while everything around him burnt down.
The handcuffs and the fact that they were found behind his back supports the suicide theory, Pol Col Chalotorn said. “He might have cuffed himself to make it impossible for him to break free once he had jumped off the tower – to make certain of his death in case he had second thoughts.”
Investigators photographed the writing on walls of the water tower. One said:
“Are you happy now? You and your family have stolen everything from me including my daughter and my life. Now you have all exactly as you wanted”
Another found on the scene said:
“THIS IS LIFE”
“the GIFT of life is not true it is POISON” (sic)
On one wall were the names of Mr White’s wife Dorothy and their children Ethan and Mayrisa.
Even though firefighters eventually managed to bring the fire under control, there was little left of the house. The fire also destroyed a scooter belonging to the family and a nearby car.
What had driven Mr White to commit suicide and destroy his family’s livelihood is still under police investigation. However, Daily News contacted his wife who said that Mr White had sent her a picture showing him setting fire to the house.
Farang Deaths attempted to contact the family members but received no response. “We still have a lot of work to do to get to the bottom of this,” Pol Col Chalotorn said. “Until we find out otherwise, it’s safe to assume that Mr White set his house on fire and committed suicide because of family problems.”
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