SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A deputy who worked at a county jail in South Carolina burned down the home of his ex-girlfriend's family with four people inside, a sheriff said.
The grandmother, mother and two children inside made it out safely because of smoke detectors and "the grace of God," Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said Friday.
Dylan Ellis was pulled off his shift at the Spartanburg County jail Thursday night, questioned, then charged with four counts of attempted murder and arson, Wright said.
Ellis told investigators he was angry at an ex-girlfriend, but Wright said he didn't give a reason why he went after her family.
"Please don't think I'm saying this is OK when I say this. I would almost understand if he damaged a car — if he spoke bad of her on Facebook — something of that nature that would make more sense. Burning a home down at 4'oclock in the morning with four people inside? That's way out there," Wright said at a news conference.
Wright's investigators quickly figured out the Aug. 23 fire was intentionally set. When the evidence began pointing to Ellis, the sheriff turned the investigation over to the State Law Enforcement Division.
Ellis had been a deputy for just over a year. After learning he was a suspect, Wright said he looked over Ellis' psychological testing and other paperwork and saw no sign this might happen.
"A lot of times we catch things where we aren't going to give a person a gun and a badge," Wright said. "There was nothing that indicated this individual had the potential to do this."
Court and jail records didn't indicate if Ellis had a lawyer.