WEATHERFORD, Texas — The felony arson case that led to a very public arrest of a popular football coach and educator has been quietly dropped by the Parker County District Attorney’s Office.
Michael Long, 60, was arrested in April of 2017 after a three-month long investigation from the local fire marshal based on a mysterious fire at his home.
The arrest occurred at a track meet in front of students and families where Long was working as a starter.
He was a football coach and special education teacher for Keller ISD.
“This has ruined my life,” he said. “I don’t get that day at the track back. It breaks my heart.”
The arrest warrant affidavit reads like a solid case.
It states that the January fire was started by “unknown means,” and that surveillance video at Long’s high school showed him leaving for more than 90 minutes during the day in question.
It also indicates that his home Wi-Fi linked up to his cell phone shortly before the fire was discovered.
But Long has reasonable explanations for each accusation and says they were dismissed by investigators.
“First off, the Wi-Fi connection was to my iPad. My iPad burned up,” said Long.
He also challenges the time stamps of the surveillance video from Fossil Ridge High School.
He said it was common for the cameras to not accurately track dates and times.
“They wouldn’t even look at other footage, which shows me clearly there,” he said. “It would’ve shown me in class. They didn’t ask for the hallway video which would’ve shown me walking those kids to class.”
Long was a special education teacher.
He supplied WFAA with a list of people who saw him at, or near the campus, during the time the fire is thought to have started some 25-plus miles away. Some were never interviewed by investigators.
Parker County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said when his office finally reviewed the case in late March, there wasn’t even enough evidence to take it to a grand jury for an initial indictment.
“There was a little bit of doubt cast on some of those [evidence], and that gave us pause,” said Swain.
He said that the investigation eventually concluded no accelerant was used, but that it also wasn’t electrical.
Long has no previous criminal history. He did file for bankruptcy in 2012, according to court records.
“I had to resign my position after they put me on leave,” said Long. “I loved that job and those kids.”
He’s hoping to get his teaching credentials restored next month.
He’s also locked in litigation with his insurer over the still burned house, as they stopped payment when he was arrested.
Weatherford declined to make its fire marshal available, instead referring inquires to the DA’s office.