People go to extreme lengths to make things work out in their favor. People will go to great lengths in order to seem like they are living a picture-perfect life. However, sometimes people go a little too far to hide their reality and protect their name. In the case of Vashti Seacat’s murder, this is evident.
Vashti Seacat fell victim to a controlling partner who refused to allow her to live a happy life on her own. She died under suspicious circumstances. At first, it seemed like she took her own life, but it would later be perceived to be staged after evidence was brought forward revealing the holes in her husband’s story of the events.
Vashti and Brett Seacat were seen as a beautiful couple who had been together for ages. The two were high school sweethearts. She had fallen head over heels for the star wrestler at her school. They were together on and off for a few years before they married. They went down to Belize to have a destination wedding.
By all accounts, they built a happy life together. They were a picture-perfect couple, as confirmed by their friends and family. The couple moved to Brett’s hometown in Kingman, Kansas, and they started their family together. They welcomed two sons, Brendan and Bronson. Their sons would have their future stirred up in the worst way possible.
As we know, it is much easier to put on a front that implies everything is perfect. However, we know that marriages take work, and in some cases, they don’t last forever. Brett spoke highly of his wife, but he did have a complaint; she was a little “too dedicated” to her job. He said that she would spend hours in her office, working away at things he didn’t understand.
Brett stated that he knew something was going on with his wife. He believed that she was falling into a deep depression, one that he was only able to see because he spent every night in their marital bed with her. He had his ideas of what might be going on with her and chalked up their struggles to Vashti going through a hard time.
Things started to go downhill when Vashti’s depression started to take over her life, or so her husband claimed. Vashti had recently began taking a hormonal supplement to lose weight. The supplement, human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG, is a hormone that is naturally secreted in the body of a pregnant woman while she is carrying a baby.
While hCG is not approved by the FDA for weight loss, it is legal as long as a healthcare provider gives them to you. The hCG diet is linked to some side effects, largely related to mood. According to the Mayo Clinic, the diet often causes fatigue, irritability, restlessness, as well as depression. This could have been the root of Vashti’s problems, but it might have been something far more.
Vashti had a storm stirring within her soul and decided to start attending therapy. Not only did she attend therapy on her own, but she went to marriage counseling with her husband. They were going through what seemed like more than just a rough patch, even if Brett did not feel they really had any issues in their marriage.
In the weeks leading up to her death, Vashti seemed withdrawn. Brett’s half-brother Bobby stated that while her children searched for Easter eggs in the yard, she appeared very sad. She did not seem like herself: bubbly, talkative, generally happy. Little did Bobby know, Vashti was soon to be met with a terrible fate just a week later.
In the early morning hours of April 30th, 2011, Brett called 911 to seek assistance. He told them that his wife had killed herself and set the house on fire. Their two young sons were asleep in their beds as the home was set ablaze. Brett told 911 dispatchers that he had to go back in and try to save her.
Just before everything began, Vashti called her husband and asked if he was awake. She told him that he needed to come to get their boys. He claimed that she came home and slammed their bedroom door. Just moments later, there were flames at the foot of the door. The bed was set on fire.
Though Brett claimed it was a suicide and that she had made threats of suicide in the past, nothing really added up. When the fire was put out, and investigators checked out the scene, they had quite a few questions. Her body was found with a gunshot wound to the head, and a red gas container was lying on the bed.
When detectives looked through the contents of her purse, the most suspicious item found was a post-it note listing a number of expenses. The term “funeral” was at the top of the page with a large number written beside it. This whole note was labeled as “life insurance,” so it was possible that she was planning for her family’s security before taking her own life.
In the passenger seat of Vashti’s car, there was a notebook. Within the notebook was a handwritten note with heartbreaking inscriptions written inside; “Brett – I can’t do this. I can’t fight this out. Take care of our boys. Be sweet to Brendan. Talk to Branson. Hold them both and tell them “mommy loves them” every night. I’m taking care of the house.”
The note did not stop there. It continued, “Brendan – you are so wonderful. Mommy is so proud of you. Be a good big brother. Branson – stay strong and don’t ever lose that smile. I love the two of you and will be watching over you from heaven.” Well, if that doesn’t just rip your heart out or feel like a punch in the gut, we’re not sure what will.
A few days after Vashti’s death, a memorial service was held in her honor. The service was held just across from the home that was burnt to a crisp. Though the neighborhood mourned Vashti and honored her life, her siblings, Kathleen and Richard, knew deep down that something bigger had happened.
Upon hearing what happened to Vashti, her brother Rich called the county sheriff’s office to inform them that they needed to investigate the incident as a murder. In his eyes, something smelled bad. He needed to convince them to look at foul play, no matter what they were led to believe.
Kathleen and Rich had immediate concerns about the news of their sister’s passing. Something felt wrong to them; things did not add up. Despite living in different states, Vashti and Kathleen spent as much time together as possible. Vashti was in Kansas, while Kathleen lived in Oklahoma. Her siblings knew of the turmoil that she and Brett were in and were shocked by some of his word choices in discussing her death.
Kathleen and Rich were taken aback by comments Brett made after her death. She had a large, poster-sized photo of her sister hanging over the fireplace in her home. She looked at it and said, “Oh, she was such a good mother. I can’t believe this happened.” Brett turned to her and said bluntly, “I’m over that.” Wow, what a way to remember your dead wife…
Brett’s communication and interpersonal skills were not for everyone. His social interactions were often described as cold and particularly harsh. He was possessive and obsessed with what he considered to be his property; he isolated his wife and kids and saw them as his possessions rather than as his family.
He kept his family close under his watch. Vashti didn’t get to see her friends or other people outside of the family, and Brett “had no friends.” Her sister Kathleen described Brett as a “grandiose narcissist.” Kathleen also described him as a macho man; he was insistent that the boys be raised as boys, and he would wrestle with his sons, shoving masculinity down their throats.
Sure, there was tension in the Seacat household – but we’re talking about the tension that immediately led to what happened. Vashti had had enough and was no longer going to be part of this marriage. She served Brett with divorce papers, which no doubt set him off. This is potentially the turning point that caused it all to go sour.
Brett had reportedly made numerous threats to his wife about what would happen if she went through with it. He threatened her with custody disputes, and in his words, said he “would destroy her and make sure she could never see their sons again.” What kind of monster says that?
Kathleen and Rich described Brett’s methods of showing “affection” as something… different than that. They described his relationship toward his wife and children as “a different kind of love than what I define as love,” which can mean a few different things. In their eyes, it was potentially toxic.
Even before deciding to serve Brett with the divorce papers, Vashti had considered trying to get out of her marriage. She learned that she was pregnant, and even though she was excited to become a mother, she was not sure if it was part of his plan to trap her. Unfortunately, that is reality in many toxic relationships; it is a way to use another life as collateral.
By fall 2010, Vashti was miserable. She was spending more time on her own by going out with friends, just to be out of the house. She and Brett were in marriage counseling, and she was seeing the same therapist in private sessions. She decided the time had come, and she was ready to move on.
After telling Brett about the divorce, Vashti reportedly had felt like she was coming back to her old self. She felt sad about the divorce but ultimately felt liberated from the shackles that had held her back since she was just a teenager. She had plans coming up — big ones. Little did she know that they would never come to fruition.
Vashti began making plans. The freedom may have been overwhelming, but she loved it and was excited for what the future held. She planned a trip to Hawaii with her sister, had tickets to a concert, plans for another trip, and so on.
She had recently gone shopping with her sister and had tons of new items. At the time of the fire, the items were still in the bags with their tags on. People who knew her sensed something was wrong when she ditched these plans she was not a flaky person. She was excited to move on but didn’t get the chance.
Ok, that section title is pretty obvious. It seems that Brett was getting more and more hostile about the divorce by the day. He was so opposed to the divorce that he threatened what meant the most to her; he threatened the possibility of a relationship with her own sons. In his words, he told her he would “destroy her.”
He decided that the best way to win his wife back was by threatening what she held most dear. He told her that if she went through with the divorce, he would do whatever the heck he could to make sure that she never saw her sons again, even if it meant leaving the country. He threatened her in ways no one ever should.
The night that Vashti filed, she was staying at a friend’s home. It was a Tuesday, and she had taken the boys to stay somewhere else to give their father some time to figure out where he would go and just clear out of the home. He had other plans but hid them like a snake.
True to form, Brett did not want to tell his parents about their marital issues, let alone that he was getting divorced. He lived in his own world, only accepting the answers that he wanted to hear. Additionally, as previously mentioned, homeboy did not have friends, either. Maybe if he did, someone would have intervened.
After a couple of days apart, Brett managed to convince Vashti to talk to him. Thursday night, he reached out (when he was ordered to stay away until he was out of the house) and told her that she owed it to him to let him see his kids. Plus, he had nowhere to go.
She heard his sob story over and over again; he wanted to see the kids and say goodbye. She heard him out, “I just want to talk” and all, and she told her sister that he was having a really hard time; she told her siblings, “my only way out is to try to reason with him. I’m not a monster, he has nowhere else.” Within 24 hours, she would be dead.
Around dinner time on Friday, she spoke with her siblings, Kathleen and Richard, to tell them the most recent update; “Brett is having a really hard time.” By Saturday night, their home was set ablaze, and Vashti’s life was stolen from her. These small details changed everything. Absolutely everything.
Saturday night, 911 dispatchers received a call from Brett Seacat that his wife was inside their house, and it was burning down. Naturally, he let them know that he thought she set it and that she was still inside. He had to run in and get her. For someone who was running into a fully burning building would have more physical marks on their body as well.
In the following investigation, he told the Kansas investigative authorities and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (the ATF) that he ran into the burning home to try and get her out. He told them he went into the house with just pants on, no shirt. Where was this evidence on his skin?
Investigators uncovered the lack of burn lacerations over his body. If he were in a house that was burning down as his was, even if he ran in and out quickly, he would have had marks and signs of entering a fire. There would be marks from burns on parts of his body hair.
Brett Seacat had supposedly bragged about how he knew how to beat the system. He was a former deputy police officer, and he knew the ups and downs, the ins and outs of the law enforcement world. Prior to the incident, he had made multiple comments to his wife about what he would get away with if he needed to.
He told her that he would kill her and make it look like a suicide. He told her that he would do it not long before it happened, and luckily she did not keep that quiet. She needed to take care of herself. She told someone in her life that he had made comments like that before; luckily, people like her therapist were able to testify in her honor.
In the Dateline NBC special, “Burning Sensation,” viewers watched as Brett Seacat sat in questioning with agents. He got next-level defensive anytime they asked him basic questions and got really nasty toward the officers. He got loud and aggressive, like a maniac throwing a temper tantrum.
One of his notable comments, when asked why he was in his office with the door locked prior to the murder, he said, “oh come on… you know why the f**k I was in there! I was crying over my divorce papers!” However, his colleagues did confirm that he almost never would do that kind of thing; he was not emotional and just didn’t close his door and lock it, ever.
As they moved through the investigation, more and more holes began appearing in his story. The more they learned about specifics like the gun position when it was found and the gasoline found on his pants, the more they knew they had their guy. They needed some final details to put the nail in the coffin.
His 911 call time stamp was a bit different than he tried to make it appear. Thanks to a neighbor’s statement, investigators were able to piece together the true timeline. A couple of doors down, a neighbor could not sleep. She was watching a movie and heard what sounded like gunshots at a point. She could not recollect the exact time, but her position in the movie at the time was able to tell investigators that Brett did not call for at least half an hour after shots were heard.
Throughout the investigation, they realized a few important things. First, they learned that Vashti’s body found with a gun under her as opposed to at her side. They also learned that the gunshot wound she suffered came from a different point, that she likely could not have done herself. They also found no smoke in her lungs. She was dead before the fire started.
This brought the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to learn that there were multiple fires set throughout the house. The ATF knew that the fires had to have been set throughout the second floor, not just in the bedroom. When they asked him what might have inspired Vashti to burn the house down, he said, “she hated that house. We couldn’t necessarily afford to fix it up, she hated that.”
Brett Seacat truly did not understand why he was being questioned. This dude straight up thought they had zero reason to look into him, despite making strange and cryptic comments. Even more than that, he asked colleagues for the best way to destroy things like hard drives. He needed to burn them.
Brett Seacat did himself zero favors when, the day before Vashti was murdered, he took two computer hard drives to maintenance and asked them the best way to destroy them. They showed him a torch that burned them at an incredibly high temperature, along with some cell phones. He proceeded to toss them into separate trash cans. That’s a bit suspicious, man.
Everything that Brett said and did made investigators concerned. Dateline NBC shared a video of his interrogation with investigators and not only was he aggressive, but he was loud. When they asked him multiple times if he killed her, he screamed (yes, screamed – not even a shout) “NO! NO! NO!”
To make matters worse, he gave a ton of attitude to the investigators. They asked him why he did it, and he just told them that there was no “why,” because he didn’t do it. The incriminating part? He told the ATF agents on the case, “I’m smart enough that if I wanted to kill my wife, it would’ve been something better than this. This is what a crazy person does.” Ok, Brett… how would your dream murder scenario work out?
Could you imagine the absolute insanity that Vashti’s young sons had to endure? To this day, Vashti’s family is dealing with custody battles over the two young boys let behind by their mother. The two boys were subjected to reliving their burning home and their mother’s murder, all before they could understand what they were dealing with.
The youngest, Vashti’s two-year-old, said something to his aunt that shook her to her very core. He “asked Jesus to bring his mommy back.” If that does not break your heart, what will? All they knew was their mother’s love and that if they prayed enough, their prayers would be answered. They must have been so disappointed to learn that she would not be coming back.
Brett Seacat tracked down one of those old overhead projectors – the kind you remember seeing in your high school classroom when a teacher wanted to show you how to do a math problem or give you a list of notes that needed to be copied. He grabbed one and immediately went into his office and closed the door.
This is part of what led investigators to conclude that the note his wife left was completely forged. Handwriting experts were brought in to analyze the writing. The handwriting had what is referred to as “tremor of fraud.” It was believed to be forged the day before she died by Brett on the overhead projector he used.
When push comes to shove, nothing about Brett’s story added up and a ton of evidence incriminated him. In addition to the point at which the gunshot entered her body, one other piece stuck out. At the time of her death, her bladder was so full that she would have to relieve herself at some point and could not possibly have held it for long enough to set the fires and kill herself.
She had no smoke in her lungs, showing that she was already dead by the time the fire was set. The therapist testified that Vashti told her, when prompted, that she would not commit suicide. She said she wouldn’t for a couple of reasons; her religious beliefs and faith, and ultimately, she wouldn’t leave her sons like that.
Weeks before Vashti’s murder, he apparently threatened to kill her in the exact way he did. He told her that he would kill her, burn the house down, and make it seem like a suicide. Keep in mind; this comment came after he told Vashti that he’d had a dream he had killed her. When his threats did not work, he decided that he had to kill her.
Brett claimed that the PowerPoint slides printed and placed on the kitchen table were his work assignments. According to his department, those were nowhere near the topics he would be covering in his teaching material. It was clear that he was researching further to see how he could pose everything.
Have you ever heard something from a lawyer (or anyone, for that matter) that was so beyond ridiculous, that you just want to give them a big smack across the face? Well, after making claims that Vashti had been suicidal for quite some time, naturally investigators needed to check in with every hospital to clarify. There were no records of this, and Brett’s lawyers made themselves look like the dumbest people on the planet.
One of his attorneys made a bold claim that still shocks us to hear. The comment? “Hospitals don’t keep records anymore.” ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!? That is easily one of the most ridiculous claims to hear, and hopefully anyone who heard that in the Dateline NBC interview screamed at their television set, just as we did upon hearing that.
Brett made so many threats over time to his wife that he must have known would come back to him in some way. He threatened to “destroy her” in every way possible. If she didn’t take the divorce off the table, he would take the boys away from her forever, even if it meant leaving the country. He had threatened to kill her and had threatened to “expose her.”
When he testified in court, he mentioned that he threatened to share private photos of her. He tried to say that she was having an affair, meanwhile he withheld these comments from the KBI and even they were unable to find anything to prove any type of affair. Brett, you can’t just bring something up randomly without mentioning it to the investigators.
The proof is in the pudding, as some might say. Brett T. Seacat was charged with premeditated murder and arson, as well as child endangerment. He was found guilty on all counts and prepared scathing remarks toward the Judge. After lots of nasty comments, he prepared the final remarks to the Judge; the specifics are a little iffy, but he just said, “I’m gonna let you have your day.”
The Judge snapped right back at Brett after delivering the guilty verdict. His words struck a chord – “you claim to be her protector, yet you did everything you possibly could to drag her and her name, her memory. You did not even express remorse that she is no longer on this earth.” Brett Seacat was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years for the murder conviction, another sentence of 61 months on the arson count, and two 7-month sentences for each child endangerment charges.