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Suspect tried to destroy Sandia Crest towers, deputies say

Brian Dorais

Brian Dorais

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Sept. 10, the house Brian Dorais shared with his wife in Madrid caught fire, killing her and reducing much of the second story to ashes.

Less than a month later, deputies say, Dorais, 53, attempted to blow up the broadcasting towers on top of Sandia Crest using copper wire, a pair of vehicle battery jumper cables and 17 milk jugs filled with gasoline – at least one of which had been fashioned into a Molotov cocktail.

Dorais, who is also referred to as Dorias in police and court records, later told deputies that he did so because “the signals were hurting his head.”

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, on Oct. 2, two employees at the towers noticed a “yellow glow” coming from a building and saw a man wearing dark clothing run away, jump a fence and drive away in a light-colored SUV.

The SUV was found parked nearby in the middle of the road with the keys in the ignition and engulfed in flames.

Other witnesses caught a Doberman pinscher that had suffered burns and was running around the area.

Detectives later learned that the dog belonged to Dorais and discovered that the light-colored SUV was registered to his wife.

Deputies tried to contact Dorais’ wife, Sherry Watts, 68, but found she had died in a fire at the couple’s home in September. Investigators found her body next to a computer in a second-story room in the house off N.M. 14.

Dorais told deputies investigating the house fire that he was a paranoid schizophrenic and was taking medication. He said Watts, his wife of five years, was into black magic and believed the world was going to end soon, according to the report. When investigators asked if he started the fire, killed his wife or had any intentions of hurting his wife, he said, “No.”

Investigators are still working to determine what caused the fire, according to the State Fire Marshal’s office.

A couple weeks after Watts’ death, Dorais went to a U.S. Forest Service building and asked who had authorized the placement of the towers on top of the mountain, according to the complaint.

Two days later, shortly before 2 a.m. on Oct. 2, deputies say, Dorais set fire to the area around the towers, his wife’s SUV and a heavily wooded patch of land.

The towers are used by major media outlets, along with federal and local agencies. Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office detectives said explosive devices could have destroyed the towers and seriously injured or killed those working in the area.

“The destruction of this equipment would result in a complete and total blackout of communications throughout the Albuquerque Metropolitan area and interrupted these communications throughout the Southwest,” a deputy wrote in the complaint.

When authorities caught up with Dorais after the explosives were found near the towers, they took him to a hospital in Santa Fe County for mental health problems.

He has since been moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center and is charged with negligent arson and being a felon in possession of a destructive device, along with other charges. He is being held on $15,000 bail.

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