Pullman arson suspect admits starting fire, too drunk to remember why

Pullman arson suspect admits starting fire, too drunk to remember why
Photo from https://www.thetachi.org/alpha-omicron

The man accused of setting fire to a porch at a WSU fraternity over the weekend told police he remembers starting the fire, but said he doesn’t remember anything else about what happened.

Pullman Police arrested Isaac DePaolo Monday. He’s accused of setting multiple fires at the Theta Chi fraternity early Sunday morning.

Court documents say surveillance cameras from the area show a man “clearly identifiable from the video and later identified as Isaac Scott DePaolo” setting multiple fires on the fire escape patio area.

The video reportedly shows DePaolo stuffing something between the wood and setting it on fire; a Jimmy John’s wrapper and cigarette pack were found in the debris.

The surveillance video shows the man identified by police as DePaolo setting four different fires and “spending time gazing at the fire.”

A video from a nearby sorority also shows someone matching DePaolo’s description.

A nearby vehicle also had significant fire damage inside, stemming from a fire in the glovebox.

Surveillance videos from the Adams Mall area of WSU also show a DePaolo “winding past cars and checking multiple door handles of parked cars.”

Police identified DePaolo and came to his home in Cheney late Monday morning. The officer said DePaolo initially denied setting the fires and denied it was him in the video. DePaolo ultimately changed his story and “admitted he had set the porch behind the fraternity on fire using a match he had found in a box.”

Court documents say “DePaolo said he did not recall anything else because he was so intoxicated. DePaolo insisted he didn’t recall a motive, but believed the most probable reason was that he was mad about getting kicked out of Theta Chi when he was visiting earlier in the night.”

DePaolo was booked into the Whitman County Jail on two counts of arson and one count of vehicle prowling. He appeared in court Tuesday and DePaolo’s father told judge Gary Libey his son would never intentionally cause damage or harm anyone.

“This is uncharacteristic of Isaac’s behavior. Drinking to the point of intoxication is not something I have seen in Isaac,” his father said.

Judge Libey called DePaolo a “risk to the community.”

“This was a series of acts, that were highly dangerous, somewhat planned out, but could have resulted in fatalities,” Judge Libey said.

DePaolo posted a $25,000 cash bond Tuesday evening and was released from jail. He’s banned from Pullman city limits and must remain under the supervision of his parents as he awaits trial, according to conditions of his release.

Whitman County prosecutor Denis Tracy said he plans to file 1st degree arson charges on Wednesday. DePaolo could face a minimum 21 months in prison if convicted.