The marriage counselor who helped Brett and Vashti Seacat in the months before Vashti's death spilled some of the couple’s darkest secrets on the stand Monday.
In their last private session together, Vashti told Connie Suderman that she was worried for Brett because he “wasn’t doing well” with their pending divorce.
“She told me that he had awakened her from her sleep and told her that he had a dream that he had killed her… she was troubled by that,” said Suderman.
The therapist also told jurors about a phone conversation she had with Brett Seacat shortly after his wife had died: “He said 'I killed her, Vashti is dead and it’s my fault.'”
Suderman called the incident unusual, and says Brett Seacat’s demeanor was calm on the phone.
“I wouldn’t say in hearing his voice that I thought he was distressed in any way. He was quite calm,” she testified. “I didn’t hear sadness. I didn’t hear tearfulness or crying or expressions of surprise or horror or words of exhaustion."
Brett Seacat had called the therapist’s office seeking advice on how to talk to their children about their mother’s death. An associate of Suderman’s told him not to mention suicide but to say she was injured and wouldn’t be coming back.
Vashti Seacat first showed up to counseling as a “last ditch” effort to avoid divorcing her husband, according to Suderman. She told the therapist she was concerned about their communication issues and their differences in beliefs and basic values.
Suderman testified that Vashti was depressed and isolated at first, but as the months went on she decided to take control of her life and part of taking control meant divorcing Brett.
Brett Seacat says Vashti shot herself and set their home on fire because she was secretly depressed. But in their last session together, Vashti told Suderman she was better than she had been in years -- physically, emotionally and mentally.
The two had even talked about suicide in the past, with Vashti saying she would never do it for two reasons: Her religious beliefs and her two boys.
“She just loved being a mom, she couldn’t leave them -- they needed her,” said Suderman.
A co-worker who declined to have audio or video recorded said Vashti told her about another specific threat made by Brett “that he would kill her, burn the house down and make it appear as though she did it.”
Another co-worker, who was also there when she discussed this threat, went on to elaborate: “He said that he could get away with it because he was in law enforcement and he knew about those things and that firemen were, I forget the word, but basically idiots. Morons is what he was eluding to.”
The defense tried to press this male co-worker about having an intimate relationship with Vashti, but he continued to say the two were nothing more than friends.
All of the co-workers who testified Monday agreed that Vashti was upbeat in the weeks before her death, describing her as “full of life,” “more connected with friends,” “forward-thinking” and “very optimistic.” One co-worker remembers telling Vashti on the day before she died how beautiful she was, saying, “She looked amazing that day.”
This co-worker (and close friend) had offered to let Vashti and her boys stay over, since Brett was supposed to be moving out the next day. But Vashti declined, telling her, “He won’t hurt me, he won’t hurt us” (referring to their two boys).
Brett Seacat got emotional, holding his head in his hands Monday afternoon, as the medical examiner described Vashti’s wounds and showed pictures of her charred body. She determined Vashti's cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head and neck, a "nearly instantaneous" death. But the manner of death was left undetermined because of the damage caused by the fire.