“The 1995 Bricelyn Street Fire: A Case Conclusion after 27 Years”
Tuesday, April 25, 2023 (8:00am - 12:00pm) (Ballroom 2)
On Valentine’s Day in 1995, a residential fire resulted in the deaths of three Pittsburgh firefighters. The investigation revealed that the fire was intentionally set by an occupant of the residence who conspired with a family member to cause the fire and seek insurance proceeds. The investigation, conducted by ATF and Pittsburgh Police, led to the arrests and convictions of the co-conspirators: a mother who received probation for insurance fraud, and her teenage son, who received three life sentences for the arson and homicide. In 2014, a new trial was ordered, prompting the case to be reopened and a new prosecution pursued. ATF, in conjunction with state and local partners, obtained additional evidence indicating the defendant’s guilt. ATF also conducted experiments at its Fire Research Laboratory to test the original origin and cause hypothesis presented at the 1997 trial. This presentation will contain an overall summary of the case progression, with particular emphasis on the modern-day testing conducted at the FRL as a means to test the original origin and cause hypothesis.
Understand the general history and timeline of 1995 Bricelyn Street fire, including the investigation, prosecution, post-conviction relief ruling, and second prosecution.
Understand the origin and cause analysis conducted in 1995.
Develop working knowledge of the flame height and radiant heat flux calculations in the context of the 1995 analysis
Understand the modern day FRL testing and analysis as a means to test the 1995 origin and case hypotheses.
Explore specific evidentiary issues that led to the conviction being overturned and how those issues were addressed in the second Bricelyn Street fire prosecution
Matthew Regentin is a Special Agent (SA) with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). He has served in this capacity for the past 21 years. Matthew has a bachelor’s degree (BA) in Foreign Affairs (Middle East regional focus) from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree (MS) in Forensic Sciences (Arson/Explosives focus) from Oklahoma State University. Matthew is a Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) with ATF and the IAAI, and he has conducted presentations throughout the United States on topics related to fire investigation and arson prosecution.
Brian Grove is an engineer at the ATF Fire Research Laboratory (ATF FRL) and has served in this capacity for the last 21 years. Mr. Grove has a Master of Science degree in Fire Protection Engineering and is a registered professional engineer in the State of California. He provides technical and scientific assistance to ATF Special Agents, Certified Fire Investigators (CFI) and the ATF National Response Team (NRT) by applying analytical tools, computer models and testing in the area of fire dynamics.