Crime & Courts

Jury hears Brett Seacat recount night of wife’s death in 2011 videotaped interview

After his wife was found shot to death following a fire at their Kingman home, former Kansas police instructor Brett Seacat – now on trial on charges he murdered his wife – analyzed the case like a law enforcement investigator.

Seacat, 37, charged in the April 30, 2011, death of his wife, Vashti, told Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents in a videotaped interview that he understood why they thought he was suspicious and agreed there were “a lot” of red flags in the case.

He sat down for an interview May 12, 2011, with KBI agents Jeff Newsum and Dave Falletti. He said he was “terribly frightened” about being investigated, but he understood it from their point of view. He also maintained he didn’t kill his wife or set fire to their home.

During the interview, which lasted about seven hours at the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, Seacat gave a detailed account of what occurred the night of his wife’s death, showing little emotion and sometimes laughing with the agents. But he appeared panicked when they confronted him with details of the investigation.

Prosecutors allege Seacat, angry over being served with divorce papers just days before his wife’s death, shot her in the head and tried to cover it up by setting their home on fire. The defense, meanwhile, counters she was depressed and set the fire herself before committing suicide.

Seacat – a former instructor at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center – told investigators he talked to his wife late April 29, 2011, and threatened to take their two boys, then ages 2 and 4, away from her if the divorce proceeded to court.

He wanted to work on the marriage for another three to six months, and said she let him stay in the home even though the divorce papers specified he needed to be out.

“She told me right out that the only reason she got an attorney was because she wasn’t a fighter and she didn’t want to fight me,” Seacat told the agents. “I am a fighter … and I would do this for the long haul.”

Seacat said he fell asleep that night in his boys’ bedroom but set an alarm on his phone so he would wake up, feed the dog and clean up from dinner earlier in the evening. He told investigators that the alarm went off before midnight, and he took care of the dog and then fell asleep on the couch.

He said Vashti Seacat called him in the middle of the night, which woke him on the couch, and told him to come get the boys or they could get hurt. He said he ran upstairs and saw fire around the door of the master bedroom.

He said when he went inside, there was fire on the bed and floor. He tried to lift his wife but her head fell back and she was limp, and he saw blood.

“I remember hearing my own voice inside of my head saying, ‘Dead,’ ” Seacat told the two agents. “… Then all of the sudden it sort of came to me. ‘Dead. Fire. Kids.’ ”

He said he “just dropped” his wife and got the boys out of the house. He told the agents he went back in to try to get his wife but was overcome by smoke and left.

Newsum told Seacat they had evidence the fire was set with gasoline in multiple spots on the second story of the home, and it didn’t make sense that Vashti Seacat would set the fires, risk her children’s lives by calling him and hoping he would answer to come get the boys, and then lay down in bed and shoot herself with the covers still over her body.

“I’m with you on that,” Seacat said. “It doesn’t make sense at all.”

Seacat acknowledged he practicing forging documents in his office and torched hard-drives the day before his wife’s death, but said he did not forge the suicide note recovered in her car. Newsum told him an expert said the note was forged.

He also acknowledged he purchased software to track his wife’s text messages and her GPS location but maintained he never stalked his wife and never installed the software.

“You’re still in love with her,” Newsum said.

“Yeah, I am,” Seacat said.

“And she was going to leave you,” Newsum added.

“If I wanted to kill my wife, I would’ve come up with something better than this,” Seacat said. “This is … crazy.”

Related stories from Wichita Eagle