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Report, Jerry D. Webster:  Opinion as to how long the fire burned



SBI CASE: 1995-03251

ACTIVITY: October 11, 1995

VICTIM: Patricia Gail Kimble

DICTATED: October 25, 1995

RECEIVED: October 30, 1995

TYPED: November 1, 1995

COPIES:  (1) Records; (2) SA J. D. Webster; (3) SAC J. M.
Burns; (4) District Attorney H. M. Kimel


Pursuant to a request from Chief Fire Inspector E. M. Rich of the Guilford County Fire Marshal's Office, SA J. D. Webster conducted a limited crime scene investigation at the residence of victim Patricia Gail Kimble. On Monday, October 9, 1995, at 8:46 p.m., a fire was reported at this dwelling. The body of the victim was discovered inside the structure by firefighters. An autopsy revealed that the victim had been shot in the head prior to the fire. A fire scene investigation conducted by Inspector Rich revealed that the fire had been deliberately set. The purpose of this investigation was to attempt to determine how long this fire had burned prior to its discovery.

The crime scene in this case was a single-story, all-wood constructed single family dwelling located in a sparsely populated rural residential area near the community of Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. The address of the crime scene was 2104 Brandon Court. To locate the crime scene, travel south on N.C. Highway 22 from its intersection with U.S. Highway 421. The crime scene is the only dwelling located on Brandon Station Court.

A limited crime scene search was conducted by SA J. D. Webster, assisted by SA E. M. Bueker and the accelerant detection dog Kingston. Agents Webster and Bueker arrived at the scene at approximately 3 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, 1995. Persons present at the time of arrival included the following:

(1) Detectives Church and Deberry from the Guilford County Sheriff's Department

(2) Inspectors E. P. Rich, E. B. Harris, and J. W. Bryant from the Guilford County Fire Marshal's Office

(3) Theodore M. Kimble, husband of the victim, along with his mother and father

Legal justification for this search was based upon written



consent of the owner of the structure, Theodore M. Kimble.  Kimble signed a consent to search form provided by Detective Church.

This search consisted of a visual examination of the interior of the structure and the area of the structure in which the fire was believed to have started. The purpose of this search was to develop an opinion as to the total amount of time that this fire burned. Due to the damage to the victim's body by the fire, a time of death could not be accurately established.

The examination of the interior of the structure revealed the following items and conditions:

(1) Most of the interior of the structure was covered by heavy deposits of soot.

(2) With the exception of the hallway, the interior of the structure had been damaged by heat and smoke only. There was little or no damage by open flame found outside of the hallway.

(3) Patterns burned into the surface of the sectional sofa in the living room and upon the surface of the kitchen floor indicated that a large quantity of a flammable liquid had been poured upon these surfaces and ignited.

(4) A hole burned through the floor in the hallway measured 5'10" wide and 6'7" long indicated that extensive burning had taken place in this area.

(5) The odor of a flammable liquid was detected in and about the rim of the hole described above.

(6) Damage from open flame above this hole was limited to wall studs and trim molding. This flame damage was observed to have been from floor level upward to a height of approximately 2'.

(7) There was little damage to ceiling components directly above the hole described above.

(8) Floor joists in the area of the hole described above were burned completely away. These floor joists were found to have been 2"x12" boards. A main structure beam measuring 2"x12" was burned almost completely through in the area where the beam coursed by the hole.



Based upon the foregoing, it is the opinion of SA Webster that this fire burned for a period exceeding two hours in both an open burning state and in a slow, smoldering state. Although a large quantity of a flammable liquid was used to accelerate this fire, the liquid, when ignited, rapidly consumed the available oxygen inside the structure. When the oxygen was depleted, the fire was reduced to a smoldering state which was sustained only by oxygen entering the structure through small openings such as plumbing holes and the clothes dryer vent. The fire could have continued in a smoldering state for an indefinite period of time until the floor was penetrated by the fire and the subsequent influx of oxygen from the crawl space returned the fire to an open burning state.

During the course of this search, the scene was examined by SA E. M. Bueker and the accelerant detection dog Kingston. Kingston alerted in three locations inside the structure; two points on the floor in the living room and one point on the floor at the rim of the hole in the hallway. Samples of carpet and padding were removed from these points and retained as physical evidence.

Agents Webster and Bueker terminated this search at 6 p.m. The physical evidence was turned over to Detective Church.





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