A DeKalb, Texas man recently indicted by a Bowie County grand jury for arson was allegedly behind on his car payments and facing repossession before his pickup burned up last year.
Jacob Paul Hano, 27, first told investigators with the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office that his 2007 Dodge truck started smoking as he and his sister-in-law were driving around looking for a place to deer hunt Oct. 25, 2014, according to a probable cause affidavit. Last week a Bowie County grand jury indicted Hano for arson, a second degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
Hano reportedly said he pulled the pickup over on the Army Corp of Engineer’s Road off of county road 4269 when it started smoking and fire began shooting out of the air vents. Members of the Simms, Texas, Volunteer Fire Department who responded noticed a couple of bottles of rubbing alcohol on the ground “10 to 15 feet away from Hano’s vehicle fire.”
Simms VFD Fire Chief Paul Beard told deputies the bottles were collected by Simms VFD Lt. Jim Whited while wearing gloves. Beard said the bottles did not appear to have been on the ground for very long as they did not show signs of deterioration as would be expected had the bottles been sitting out in the open. Beard also mentioned firefighter’s discovery of a burned patch of grass a few feet from the truck and that, “they could find nothing that might have landed in that spot and started the fire away from the truck,” the affidavit alleges.
A claims investigator for Geico Insurance told sheriff’s deputies that Hano was behind on car payments and facing a possible repossession of the truck when he made a claim on his policy for the fire damage.
Hano’s sister-in-law told detectives that Hano said something was wrong with the truck and pulled over before the smoke and fire began. Shelby Berbig said she could not see what Hano was doing when he lifted the hood of the truck. Berbig said she saw smoke and fire coming from the vents after Hano raised the hood.
Hano allegedly told an investigator with the sheriff’s office that his prints might be on the rubbing alcohol bottles because he uses rubbing alcohol to treat bug bites at his deer camp. Hano reportedly said his deer camp was several miles from the site of the truck fire.
A palm print taken from one of the rubbing alcohol bottles was identified as Hano’s by members of the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Garland, Texas. Hano allegedly confessed to burning the truck during an interview with the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office Jan. 30.