The young man arrested and charged this week in connection with the arson deaths of five people in a Vancouver townhouse in 2006 had a troubled past, says one his former neighbours.

Nathan Richard Fry, 19, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder after four members of the Etibako family and a family friend died in what police are calling one of the worst crimes in the city's history.

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Nathan Fry is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in connection with last year's fatal townhouse fire in East Vancouver.

Carole Helen Stinson, who lives across the street from the young man's family in Burnaby, said Fry got into trouble as a boy.

She also noted that even in elementary school,Fryhad been enamoured with Nazism and called himself "Hitler."

A photograph of Nathan Fry posted on a website shows a lean young man with short cropped hair, with what appears to be a small swastika tattoo high on his left shoulder.

Stinson said her son went to school with Fry, but the two were never friends.

"My son who knew Nathan the best had a more pragmatic attitude towards it. He was sort of, like, 'Well, he kind of had a bad experience growing up and was in trouble.' So he seemed not as surprised as everybody else."

Fry also went to Burnaby Central High with two of the Etibako children.

Vancouver police have said there is a connection between Fry and 17-year-old Bolingo Etibako, the only person to escape the townhouse blaze.

Neighbours in the East Vancouver complex say the two were often seen fighting.

Police insist the fire was not a hate crime but they refuse to say what may have motivated it.

Fry is due to appear in court again in July.