Godfrey shooting details emerge

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The thunder of a gunshot from somewhere inside her Eagle River home was Patti Godfrey's first inkling of trouble the night her husband died.

Anchorage police have completed their investigation into the Aug. 3 killing of former Department of Public Safety commissioner Glenn Godfrey, the attempted killing of his wife, Patti, and the suicide of their assailant, Karen Brand.

A hospital interview with Patti Godfrey on Tuesday produced some information about the shootings, police said, but shed little light on Brand's state of mind.

The perplexing questions raised by Brand's attack, which apparently grew out of a broken relationship with Glenn, will probably remain unanswered, said Sgt. Ross Plummer, head of the Anchorage department's homicide unit.

''We have some of the facts,'' Plummer said. ''We don't have the answers.''

Based on what is known, what Patti said, and what can reasonably be deduced, Detective Phil Brown, chief investigator on the case, has reconstructed events as follows:

Brand arrived at the Godfreys' home the morning before the shootings. She reportedly wanted to talk to Glenn Godfrey, but he asked her to leave.

Later that morning, the Godfreys headed out on a planned trip to Seward. From their car, they saw Brand pass them in her car going in the opposite direction. After picking up other family members, they saw Brand again, this time following them.

On the Seward Highway, they spotted Brand again, this time following them. They lost her near Girdwood and didn't see her in Seward, Brown said.

The Godfreys returned home about 11 p.m. that night. There was no sign of anything amiss. Patti was nervous because of the encounters with Brand and says she checked all the doors.

Investigators believe Brand was already in the house, hiding in a closet. Later police found an unlocked window on the lower level of the house in the same room as the closet. They theorize that's how Brand got in.

It's unknown when Brand entered the house.

She was there long enough to find Glenn's .44-caliber Magnum revolver -- which would be used in the shootings -- and make notes about the Godfreys' travel plans from information lying around. The couple were going to Europe the next week.

She also tore off the information cover sheet from a packet of Patti's checks.

These items were later found tucked in her sock, Brown said.

Patti was not able to tell police where the gun was in the house or whether Glenn left it loaded. A box of bullets was found on a shelf in the garage, but police say they aren't positive those are the bullets Brand used.

Police found evidence -- some hairs and a glass of water -- that Brand sat in the downstairs closet for awhile.

During that period, the Godfreys remained on the upstairs level talking, Brown said. They had been home for about an hour and a half when Patti left the living room to do something. When she came back, Glenn had gone downstairs.

That's when Patti heard the first shot.

Police believe Glenn opened the closet door and was shot almost immediately by a bullet that angled upward through his head, killing him instantly.

Shortly after the first shot, according to Patti, Brand raced up the stairs into the living room area, shooting. She shot Patti four times, causing 11 separate wounds, Brown said.

Brand said personal things to Patti, but the detectives refused to repeat them. It would only be hurtful to the survivors, Plummer said.

Patti tried to escape but hit the floor critically wounded. She told police Brand suddenly stopped shooting and fussed with the gun awhile, then went back downstairs to the garage. By then she had fired five bullets. Police theorize that the last round failed to fire, Plummer said.

Police later found five spent shells and one live round on the garage floor.

As Brand reloaded in the garage, Patti got to the kitchen phone and called 911.

Brand put four new bullets in the gun as Patti begged a police dispatcher to help her. But the Godfrey home was not on police maps or in their 911 response computer, and it took 48 minutes for patrol cars to find it.

After she finished reloading, Brand went to Glenn's body and pumped two shots into his chest. Then she put the revolver muzzle under her chin and pulled the trigger.

The details don't explain why Brand fired the first shot. What did she have in mind when she hid in the closet? If she planned to kill, why did she show up without a weapon? If she expected to die there, why did she hide stolen papers in her sock?

Most of all, how did a woman generally regarded as sane, successful and normal come apart without family and her many friends noticing that something was wrong? Brand was a former legislative aide and currently vice president of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, heading the organization's Anchorage office. She was gregarious and well liked. She had been married for six years.

According to Brown, Brand was not pregnant and had no alcohol or drugs in her system.

Not long before the shootings, Brand talked to Patti Godfrey on the phone and recorded the conversation. Police found the tape in Brand's office. Patti confirmed the conversation. The two women did not fight on the phone.

Brand also wrote a letter to Glenn sometime Friday. Police found it in her car, which was parked a block above the Godfrey house. The note did not hint at murder or suicide, Brown said. Like the phone tape, the letter contained ''personal stuff'' and police don't plan to release either of them, Plummer said.

''There was no indication she was planning out ahead,'' Brown said. ''But after the first shot is fired, now there's no return.''

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