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Who Set A Fire That Killed A Pregnant Mom And Her Son? ‘Cold Justice’ Investigates 28-Year-Old Mystery
Evidence at the crime scene revealed that somebody had intentionally set the fire that killed Hope Brewster and her 2-year-old son.
A fire that gutted the Noble Manor apartment complex in Noblesville, Indiana in the early morning hours of February 26, 1993, still sends shockwaves through the community.
Hope Brewster, a 22-year-old pregnant mother, and her 2-year-old son, Jacob, were killed in the blaze, while her husband, Greg, escaped. Detectives found that the fire had been intentionally set and that gas was used as an accelerant.
“For 28 years, Hope’s family has been torn apart, wondering if Greg could have actually murdered his wife and children,” said investigator Steve Spingola, who joined former prosecutor Kelly Siegler in Noblesville in a recent episode of “Cold Justice,” airing Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.“We’re hoping with modern advancements in arson investigation we can finally answer the question."
Working side-by-side with them are Noblesville Police Department Dep. Chief Shannon Trump and Det. Michael Haskett.
The team begins its investigation with three possible suspects: Greg Brewster, R.D. Dick, a convicted arsonist who lived at Noble Manor with his mother when the fire happened, and an unknown arsonist.
Investigators review Greg’s account of the fatal night. He said he awoke to the smell of smoke and went to the apartment door, and he found that it was hot. He never opened the door. He made a plan with Hope: He would jump from their apartment window first and then catch Jacob and her.
Greg landed flat-footed in his leap to safety and injured his back. When he stood up, Hope and Jacob weren’t at the window. As he was taken to an ambulance, he was incorrectly told his family was safe.
Their cause of death was carbon monoxide intoxication and smoke inhalation. There were no injuries found to be suspicious, according to local law enforcement.
The “Cold Justice” team sifts through rumors surrounding the case, including allegations the Brewster marriage was rocky and Greg had affairs. Greg remarrying less than a year after Hope’s death also raises red flags to the team, according to “Cold Justice.”
“The fire investigators discovered that the door to the Brewster apartment was open, which allowed the fire and the smoke to spread into their apartment, which is what killed Hope and Jacob,” says Siegler. “According to Greg, he never opened it. But could Greg have been lying?”
Investigators interview former residents of Noble Manor who still have indelible memories of February 26, 1993. Greg was always consistent about awakening to the smell of smoke, never opening the door, and his plan to leap to the ground first with the intention of catching his loved ones.
Melissa Chapman, one of Hope’s closest friends, refutes rumors about the couple’s marital problems. “She never said anything,” she insists. Instead, she questions whether Hope, who was pregnant, could leap to safety. “I don’t see her jumping out of that window. And I wonder if she turned around thinking, ‘I’ll see if the door is hot. I’ll see if I can get out.’”
That theory could explain the location of the bodies and why the Brewster door was open, contradicting Greg’s account.
Fire scientist Stu Morrison helps recreate the crime scene and explains how fast and furiously the fire would have spread via the open door.
The recreation of the crime, along with where the gas can was found, illuminates that it seemed “very farfetched” that Greg was behind it, says Spingola, adding that the team still wants to speak with Greg.
However, Greg’s lawyer informs them that Greg had told law enforcement everything he knows about the case when it happened and as recently as 2019.
“Cold Justice” investigators turn their focus to convicted firebug R.D. Dick. His clothing and shoes had been analyzed at the crime lab at the time of the fire. No evidence of accelerant was found on them.
“We’ll have to dig deeper to see if there are any parallels between his past crimes and the fire that killed Hope Brewster and Jacob,” says Spingola, who interviews R.D. Dick along with Haskett.
“The last thing I would do is put my mom in danger,” R.D. Dick insists. He adds that he never used accelerants when he set fires. He always followed the same pattern: He used a lighter to set curtains ablaze in vacant buildings. That story checks out.
Investigators speak with Noblesville Police Dept. Dep. Fire Chief Chris Gellinger and former Capt. Joel Musselman to gain insight into whether other similar arson cases had occurred around the same time as the Noble Manor fire.
They learn that three other fires had been set in which accelerants were used in buildings similar to Noble Manor.
After reviewing their investigations, the “Cold Justice” team concludes that Greg Brewster and R.D. Dick can be cleared as suspects.
Hope’s sister expresses great relief about their findings concerning Greg. Authorities are hopeful that interest in the case can result in fresh leads.