PCSO: Autopsies point to 'gigantic puzzle' in Casa Grande fire - CBS 5 - KPHO

PCSO: Autopsies point to 'gigantic puzzle' in Casa Grande fire deaths

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The home was gutted by fire on Dec. 13, 2013. (Source: CBS 5 News) The home was gutted by fire on Dec. 13, 2013. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Dr. Joyce Bonenberger, Dennis Brough and Trevor Brough. (Source: CBS 5 News) Dr. Joyce Bonenberger, Dennis Brough and Trevor Brough. (Source: CBS 5 News)

Autopsy reports released by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office Wednesday show two members of a Casa Grande-area family died of smoke inhalation in a house fire on Dec. 13.

Pathologists, however, could not reach a definitive cause of death for a third family member, Dr. Joyce Bonenberger, who was the chief of surgery at the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.

"The autopsy reports definitely add further suspicion to this case (and point to) a gigantic puzzle," said PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney.

Autopsies ruled that Dennis Brough, 50, and Trevor Brough, 11, both died from smoke inhalation.

Trevor Brough had naloxone, also known as Narcan, in his system Gaffney said referring to the autopsy report.

"Narcan is a drug that's commonly used by medical personnel to combat when someone is overdosed on heroin, morphine, another type of pain medication," Gaffney said.

Gaffney said though Bonenberger owned a private practice, she wasn't the only one with access to narcotics.

"Her husband was the bookkeeper, the office manager, worked there, so there's access to drugs there," Gaffney said.

Pathologists said Bonenberger suffered skull fractures, but had no signs of smoke in her lungs.

"She was deceased before the fire began because she never breathed it in," said Gaffney.

Her autopsy report stated Bonenberger tested positive for morphine and codeine.

"The medical examiner's office is not able to give us a cause of death for her," Gaffney said.

Dr. Frank LoVecchio, co-director of Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center, said at face value, the levels of morphine and codeine in Bonenberger did not appear lethal.

He also pointed out that codeine breaks down into morphine in the body.

While we don't know why Bonenberger's son Trevor had Narcan in his system, a drug used to revive patients who've overdosed on opiates, LoVecchio said it's not uncommon for paramedics and other medical personal to give it to an unconscious patient, just to be safe.

"So, if you pulled somebody out of a fire or pulled somebody out of even a car accident and it seemed obvious they were in a car accident, and, you say look maybe this doesn't make sense, you would commonly give Narcan because it could be life-saving, even though it seemed like maybe they had banged their head because the downside is so low."

Neighbors tried breaking a window and yelling inside when the fire broke out.

But by the time fire crews arrived, the house at the Desert Highlands subdivision in unincorporated Pinal County was engulfed in flames.

"The fire did burn for quite some time in the residence, possibly even several hours before it was ever reported, before neighbors saw the flames," Gaffney said.

Dennis Brough's body was found in the garage, Bonenberger's body was located in the master bedroom face down on the bed and Trevor Brough's body was discovered in a bedroom, PCSO authorities said.

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