A 25-year-old woman is behind bars after she allegedly set her husband on fire last night in a north Austin apartment complex.
Shriya Patel, a native of India, joined her husband of one year in Austin only one week ago. A neighbor told KXAN that he heard what sounded like an argument minutes before the incident. The same man told the station that the victim, whose name was not released, told police that Patel had promised to give him a candlelit massage with oil. Instead, the victim said, she doused him in fuel and set him ablaze with the candles.
Patel reportedly told police that her husband set himself on fire. One might be forgiven for thinking that the veracity of Patel's claim is somewhat disputable, as a Walmart security tape shows her buying the materials used in the attack.
An investigator said that the level of preparation that went into the incident was chilling. "In 17 years at the fire department, I have seen burns like this but nothing that was premeditated like this," said Austin Fire Department Captain Andy Reardon. He believes that Patel not only started the fire but also, according to KVUE, covered the apartment's sprinkler heads with scarves she bought at Wal-Mart and dismantled the smoke alarm.
The 29-year-old victim is currently in a medically induced coma and in critical but stable condition in the burns unit at San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center.
"Why did she burn me?" he was heard to say as he was being wheeled to a medical helicopter. "Why did she burn me? All I was trying to do was love her."
Patel has been charged with arson and aggravated assault and is being held on $500,000 bond.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.