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Kingman gathers to mourn mom

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 6, 2011, at 12:07 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, March 30, 2012, at 4 p.m.

KINGMAN — Felicia Ryder didn't know Vashti Seacat but felt compelled to help organize a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of the 34-year-old woman.

"Kingman is a small community," Ryder said. "But you know what? We are a caring community."

Dozens of people, including friends and relatives of Seacat's, gathered Thursday evening nearly in the shadows of the partly charred home where authorities found Seacat's body after an early-morning fire on Saturday. Her husband, Brett Seacat, and her two sons, 2 and 4, made it out of the house.

Authorities are not commenting on an ongoing investigation of the death and the fire — involving the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office and assisted by Kingman police. All questions about the case are being referred to the Kansas Attorney General's Office, which has declined to disclose any autopsy findings.

Relatives say that Vashti Seacat worked in human resources for Cox Communications in Wichita. Brett Seacat is a former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy and currently is an instructor with the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center who gives basic training to police recruits.

Vashti Seacat filed a divorce petition against her husband on April 14, saying the two are incompatible, court records show.

Brett Seacat was among the people at the candlelight vigil Thursday night.

Ryder, the woman who helped organize the vigil, said, "I feel this (vigil) needs to come about so we can start healing. ...

"Everybody is so saddened by this, not knowing what happened. I know the police can't say anything, but still. This is our small town. Something like this just doesn't happen" in Kingman.

As the vigil was held across the street from the Seacat house, the smell of charred debris hung in the air, and those attending stood on blackened remains of embers that had blown from the burned home, encircled in yellow police tape and guarded by officers.

Family members say that Vashti Seacat had a strong Christian faith, and the Rev. Joshua Bell told the mourners surrounding him that despite the loss of such a loving person, there is comfort in the belief that "she is with Him."

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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