In the early morning hours of August 8, 2013, first responders were called to a house fire in Modesto, California. Scott and Janet Pettit were found dead inside, and investigators soon determined the fire was no accident.
Firefighters were called to the Pettit family home in Modesto, California, at 3 a.m. on August 8, 2013. Neighbors called 911 after seeing fire coming out of an upstairs window.
The Scorched Bedroom
The master bedroom of the Pettit home, pictured here, had gone up in flames.
The bodies of Scott and Janet Pettit were found in their bedroom. Investigators determined they had been shot a total of seven times and the fire was set as a cover-up.
Scott and Janet Pettit were beloved members of the community. Scott owned a local martial arts studio, and Janet was a neonatal nurse.
Scott Pettit was known around town for his love of cars. He collected them. Here, he's seen driving his 1961 Corvette in a local parade.
A Suspect in the Family
As the investigation into the Pettits' death continued, suspicion fell on Brandon Pettit, Scott and Janet's adult son. He is pictured here with his father at a younger age.
Investigators came to believe that Brandon Pettit had hired this friend, Felix Valverde, to commit the murders.
Detectives searched Felix Valverde's apartment, where they found several pieces of important evidence, including wallets belonging to Scott and Janet Pettit.
The Shell Casings
Also found outside Felix Valverde's apartment were these seven spent shell casings, concealed in a planter. The Pettits had been shot a total of seven times.
The Key to the Case?
Perhaps the most significant of all the evidence found at Felix Valverde's apartment were the keys to Scott and Janet Pettit's Modesto home.
A Son Accused
On August 17, 2013, four days after the murders, Brandon Pettit was arrested along with Felix Valverde and charged with the murders of Scott and Janet Pettit.
A Sister's Fight
Brandon Pettit's sister Lauren, pictured between Scott and Janet, strongly believes that her brother is innocent. She says Brandon loved their parents and there's no reason he would have wanted them dead. Seven years after his arrest, Brandon finally went on trial in September 2020. Lauren has stood by her brother all along.
At Brandon Pettit's trial, prosecutors argued that Brandon's motive was financial. They told the jury that Brandon had hoped to inherit his parents' life insurance and sell his father's vintage cars.
Sarah Wilson, a high school friend of Brandon Pettit, testified that Brandon promised her a million-dollar home not long before the murders. She also testified that just hours before the murders, he sent her a text saying he would buy her breast enhancement surgery for Christmas.
A Son Convicted
In September 2020, Brandon Pettit was found guilty of the murder of his parents. He was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole. Felix Valverde has pleaded not guilty and has yet to go on trial.
A Daughter Mourns
Lauren Pettit still believes in her brother's innocence and continues to mourn the loss of her mother and father.