With a history of being a security guard with a license to carry a firearm and reported past boasting of phantom employment within the fire service, it may not be surprising that Brandon Pettit, 25, was arrested in connection with the murder of his parents. The bodies of his mother and father were discovered after an Aug. 8 house fire in Modesto.
The deaths of well-known Riverbank Karate for Kids business owner Scott Pettit – who originally started his business in Escalon – and his wife Janet, both 59, were classified as homicides by Modesto Police investigators on Friday, Aug. 9. On Saturday, Aug. 17, police announced the arrests of the Pettits’ son, Brandon Pettit and his friend, Felix Valverde, 26, of Oakdale on suspicion of murder, arson and conspiracy.
Investigators are withholding the cause of death, but some witnesses in the neighborhood reported hearing gunshots from the residence on the evening of the fire.
Modesto Police, assisted by Stanislaus County District Attorney investigators, stated in a press release that family and friends were cooperative during their initial investigation. On Friday, Aug. 16 they announced that the fire was set in an attempt to cover up the homicides.
On that date, police also stated that there had been a third person living at the residence and identified that person as the Pettits’ 25-year-old son, Brandon, who was reportedly at work the night of the fire.
Brandon Pettit worked the midnight shift as a security guard in the Modesto area. A check with the state licensing division for security officers shows that Pettit was licensed to carry a firearm and friends have confirmed that Pettit did own firearms.
Modesto Police Sergeant Ivan Valencia said he could not comment on a motive or confirm if the homicides were the result of a shooting.
Valverde graduated from Oakdale High School in 2005 and worked at the Oakdale Sears store. Representatives at the store confirmed Valverde was employed as a delivery person at the time of his arrest.
Subjects who knew Brandon Pettit relayed that he claimed to work as a firefighter or “had ties” to a fire department where he did volunteer work.
A social media site for Scott Pettit shows a photo of Brandon with an upper arm tattoo of the firefighter Maltese cross vector.
Both Pettit and Valverde were being held at Stanislaus County Jail without bail and were scheduled for arraignment in Superior Court on Tuesday, Aug. 20, past press time for The Times.
Meanwhile, mourners by the dozens gathered in Riverbank for a memorial service at that city’s Community Center Park on Aug. 14, sharing stories and memories of the couple, along with shedding some tears.