Army soldier lit wife on fire, told her to lie to protect career

Army soldier lit wife on fire, told her to lie to protect career »Play Video
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An Army sergeant could face charges of attempted murder, accused of setting his own wife on fire.

Thurston County investigators say the attack happened in February, but didn't come to light until the sergeant's wife recently changed her story.

The 35-year-old man served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The seasoned military sergeant is being held in Thurston County Jail.

At the house where the American flag hangs outside, deputies say the soldier set fire to his wife, then asked her to lie about it to protect his military career.

"It's a more severe case," said Sgt. Cheryl Stines.

The case began in February at a Lacey home where a calendar from Joint Base Lewis-McChord hangs in the window. Detectives believe Army Sgt. Duane Michael Rader came home drunk one night and threatened his wife with violence.

"(He) told her that he was going to put a bullet between her head," Stines said. "During that physical altercation, she fell to the ground and he poured lighter fluid on her, and then lit a match and then threw it on her."

The woman went to the hospital with second-degree burns, and told police she had lit herself on fire while trying to refill a lighter.

But earlier this month, her story changed.

She told investigators she'd left her husband and wanted to tell the truth -- that she lied to protect his military career of more than 15 years.

Detectives believe post-traumatic stress may have have affected Radar's actions.

"I've heard rumblings of it, but we're still working on trying to figure out what happened at that time, going back all those months," said Stines.

Army officials, citing privacy rules, refused to reveal whether Radar had ever been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.