GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The judge unsealed a search warrant Monday in a fire that killed a mother and her two daughters.
The warrant, obtained exclusively by Channel 2 Action News, details exactly what firefighters looked for as they investigated the tragedy as arson.
Investigators told a judge they have probable cause and are looking at the fire as an arson in the first degree.
They say they suspect arson because of the inconsistent stories given by the father, Brent Patterson, who survived the fire.
"The conflicting statements given by Mr. Patterson could not explain the fire behavior, fire patterns, or the speed of the fire spread,” the warrant says.
Channel 2 Action News spoke with Brent Patterson just hours after his wife, Kathy, and two daughters, Kayla and Madelyn, died in the fire at their home on Pointer Ridge.
“I tried to go back inside but I couldn’t because it was too hot and it was burning me,” Patterson told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas that day. “They are dead. My whole life is over.”
The warrant says investigators searched the house looking for “accelerants, flammable liquids and incendiary devices.” They also looked for signs of financial distress and evidence of what medications the victims might have taken.
“We don’t have anybody targeted, but we want to get to the truth of how this fire started,” District Attorney Danny Porter told Thomas in February.
Arson investigator Sara Redmond told the judge that Patterson told them the same story he told Channel 2 Action News the morning after the fire. He said he heard a popping sound as he and his family were getting ready for bed, he went downstairs opened the front door and the fire exploded. But then in a second interview authorities say the story changed.
“He and his whole family were in the master bedroom together asleep and he was awakened by a loud sound,” the warrant reads. It says he then went outside and that’s when the fire erupted.
“I don’t know if it was an explosion. It was intense enough to burn me here and here, my leg and my foot. It was so hot I couldn’t get back in,” Patterson told Channel 2 Action News after the fire.
Investigators say the injuries Patterson sustained don't match how he claimed to have gone back and tried to save his family.
In a second interview with arson investigators, Redmond says Patterson told them his wife, “took psychiatric medications and that when she took those medications, it made her sleepy." Relatives told investigators Kayla also took medications. Search warrant returns show investigators took prescription bottles and medical documents from the scene.
“We are not prepared to charge anybody. We are not prepared to accuse anybody,” Porter said.
In the warrant returns, there are no indications that authorities found any direct evidence of an arson during the search.
They have ordered more testing be done to try and determine what medications the victims had in their bodies and the effect that could have had on their responses to the fire.
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