GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A father's interviews with investigators are giving new insight into the case of a fire that killed his wife and two daughters.
In the late hours of Feb. 9, 2016, flames tore through a home on Pointer Ridge in Tucker. Brent Patterson escaped the fire, but his wife Kathy and their two daughters did not.
For 15 months, investigators looked at every angle they could on the deadly fire, wanting to know if the lone survivor had intentionally set it. District Attorney Danny Porter said he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the fire was intentional.
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With the case closed, and Patterson not facing charges, Channel 2's Tony Thomas dug through the case file to bring more details to light.
Many investigators still suspect the fire was not an accident, but can't prove it.
Investigators spent 15 months trying to build a case
Records show investigators were suspicious of Patterson from the start. He gave two different accounts of what happened the night of the fire.
The district attorney's case files show investigators spent hundreds of hours challenging Patterson's statements.
During a videotaped interview a month after the fire, investigators applied pressure.
“Are you saying I’m not telling the truth?” Patterson asked.
“We’re saying something is missing,” the investigator responded.
Patterson initially said there had been an explosion during the fire, but investigators said there was no evidence from the scene of any explosion.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Patterson said.
Two firefighters said they saw blue flames in the fire, a possible sign of natural gas or accelerants, but in different locations. Later tests found no signs accelerants were used.
“It’s contradictory evidence, just like a lot of the evidence in this case,” District Attorney Danny Porter said.
Patterson’s insurance company hired Eric Miller’s law firm to search for a cause, ultimately ruling out any mechanical problems.
“Unfortunately, there are times that it’s just impossible to figure out exactly what happened in this case,” Miller said.
Investigators received an anonymous letter one month after the fire, pointing out bad things about victim Kathy Patterson. They believe Brent Patterson wrote the letter himself, which concluded, “I hope the fire was an accident. I hope this information helps your investigation.”
“If I had that conclusive evidence, it would be something I’d certainly argue in favor of guilt,” Porter said.
Investigators say the theory they can’t disprove is the one Patterson said he can’t remember telling them the night of the fire.
A relative said Patterson claimed he had 10 shots that night and had no idea what he told authorities.
Strippers say father had plan to cash in on deadly fire
In the weeks following the fire, witnesses came forward to provide details of Patterson’s behavior, with many saying they were creeped out by what they saw and heard.
In digging through the case files, Thomas found out that Patterson spent a lot of time at strip clubs. Several employees said he would show them pictures of the fire.
“It was like a trophy to him,” said one woman, whose identity we agreed to protect.
She told authorities weeks after the fire Patterson paid her $400 to go out to eat with him, then took her to the burned-out home.
“He had on the floor just a plethora of pictures and newspaper articles and he said, ‘Look at the presents I have for you,” she said.
The woman said Patterson gave her and other dancers gifts, offered one woman his dead wife’s minivan and bragged about how he’d soon be rich.
“(He said), ‘I’m going to profit off all this and I can send you anywhere in the world. I’m going to be a millionaire,’” she said.
Another woman said Patterson gave detailed plans.
“He started talking about when he’s found not guilty he’s going to go up here on Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren and possibly write a book. He basically had a press tour planned out,” the other woman said.
Patterson is not charged in relation to the fire. He still works at the restaurant he manages.
Miller said insurance fraud charges or civil lawsuits are still possible, even though the criminal case is closed.
Channel 2 Action News has repeatedly reached out to Patterson and his attorney over the past few months, but has not received a reply.