Husband arrested in 8-year-old Goliad fatal fire case

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Dec. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.

More than eight years after Patricia Leigh Mills died in a 2003 Goliad house fire, her husband has been arrested in connection with her death.

On Wednesday, Delbert Andrew Mills, 44, of Victoria, was arrested and charged with capital murder.

Patricia Mills' sister, Sharon Burdette, said she was overjoyed when she learned about the arrest.

"All I could do was scream, 'Merry Christmas, little sister! They finally got him!'" she said.

The couple had been married about eight years at the time of her death.

She was killed when the couple's home at 127 South San Patricio Street caught fire on June 25, 2003.

The couple's son, who was 7 years old at the time, was able to escape the burning house.

The cold case was reopened in 2010 by sheriff Kirby Brumby after he was approached by Burdette.

Investigators spent more than a year working on the case.

Burdette had spent years trying to get law enforcement to look closer at her sister's death, she said. When Brumby said they would re-open the case, she was thrilled.

"I had been after it for eight years but nobody took me seriously," she said.

Mills' arrest came after an extensive investigation by the Goliad County Sheriff's Office, Texas Ranger Tod Reed and Goliad County Constable Precinct No. 2 Mike Thompson.

The Victoria County Sheriff's Office and Department of Public Safety Agent Tim Upright also assisted in the investigation, according to a Goliad County Sheriff's Office news release.

"It is always satisfying when an effort like this pays off," Brumby said in the news release.

Brumby also said he was grateful for the cooperation from all the agencies and particularly to Thompson, who spent so much time working on the case.

Burdette echoed Brumby's statement.

Burdette said she is grateful to everyone who was involved in the case, particularly Thompson.

"I had contacted everybody and nobody was helping me," she said. "If it wasn't for him, it wouldn't have happened."

Mills was interviewed at the Victoria County Sheriff's Office by Reed and Upright.

He was taken into custody, appeared before a magistrate and transported to the Goliad County Jail without incident on Wednesday.

His bond was set at $5 million by Goliad County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Sylvia Valdez.

"We feel very good to have him off the street," Brumby said.

Burdette has been caring for her sister's son, John, since his mother's death and is in the process of adopting him. She said she plans to be present when Mills goes to trial.

"I don't want the death penalty. I want him to suffer everyday that she is under the ground," she said. "She was a beautiful sister, mother and friend. She didn't deserve it."



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