msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/30/2011 9:15:57 PM ET 2011-08-31T01:15:57

A Chicago man who quickly accelerated a sport utility vehicle with a cable around his neck decapitated himself after a domestic dispute in Yorktown, authorities said Tuesday.

York-Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs said a deputy responding to a call of a domestic disturbance Tuesday was taking a statement from the man's ex-wife when another deputy driving by noticed an SUV pulling a utility trailer that was on fire. Authorities say the man started the fire.

A firefighter noticed a cable attached to a tree extended around the man's neck. When deputies tried to get the man to exit the white Ford Explorer, he accelerated and was pulled from the vehicle and decapitated, they said. The SUV kept going for about 150 yards, NBC station WAVY reported.

Diggs said he arrived to a grisly scene, adding the cable was of the type that could be used to hoist an automobile engine.

"Nobody has ever heard of anything like this," Diggs said. "It's a really bizarre incident."

Diggs said the man and his ex-wife had quarreled over the man's living arrangements.

"He was looking to relocate from Chicago to this area, and he wanted her to do more than she was willing to do," Diggs said.

The sheriff said he was unsure how long the couple had been divorced. He said they have two school-age children who were not at home at the time.

Diggs said officials aren't releasing the man's name because they don't publicly identify suicide victims. However, officials said the man was 46 and from Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.