Reporting Anjali Hemphill
MODESTO (CBS13) – The search for a killer ends with a son behind bars, accused of murdering his own parents and setting their Modesto home on fire.
The bodies of Scott and Janet Pettit were found by firefighters in the 4000 block of Divan Court during a house fire on Aug. 8.
Neighbors say they saw 25-year-old Brandon Pettit at the home helping with cleanup just days after he was accused of killing his father and mother.
“We are just very sad about the whole thing, and something must have happened that none of us knew about for that to take place,” said neighbor Carrie Petino.
Police say Brandon worked with 26-year-old Felix Valverde to kill his mother and father, and then set their home on fire.
“My heart breaks for everybody involved. I’m sad for Brandon and whatever is going on with him. I feel like this is not a normal thing for him,” said Petino.
The bodies of Scott and Janet were discovered in their bedroom after neighbors called 911 because they saw smoke coming from inside the home.
“He had some issues that I think he was trying to handle and the parents were trying to handle,” said Petino.
Neighbors say Brandon went through some tough times in the past, but he was always seen helping around the house.
“They just bought him a car as my understanding,” said Petino. “I heard recently that he had moved back home and they were in the process of — I had heard — buying him a house.”
But other friends of Scott say they had their suspicions from the beginning.
“I heard or I had a suspicion that maybe the son was involved,” said Russell Benson.
Benson suspects if Brandon is guilty, then it is likely because of money. Scott owns a popular karate studio and is a pillar in the community.
Meanwhile, flowers sit at the Pettit’s front door. Messages and memories hang in the windows of his Riverbank karate studio as the community tries to understand why a son is accused of murdering a beloved man.
“Scott was always sitting out in the driveway tinkering with his cars, and we come out now and it’s just something missing from the neighborhood; and it’s kind of heartbreaking for all of us,” said Petino.
Brandon and Valverde have been charged with homicide, arson and conspiracy. Police have not released how the couple was killed.