In Benbrook, A Tangled, Tangled Web and One Dead Gumshoe for Hire

Richard Slatkin must have appreciated the irony in his predicament. Here he was, a 66-year-old private investigator who caught cheating spouses for a living -- whose stock and trade was sorting through lies to find something near the truth -- and he was being divorced by a wife who had just given birth to their second child. This one, however, was not Slatkin's.

The divorce was final in December 2012. Last Tuesday, Slatkin was lying in front of what used to be his Benbrook home, with a bullet in his chest. Police arrested Johnny Patton Jr., Slatkin's ex-wife Catherine's boyfriend, for allegedly pulling the trigger. Patton is a landman and CEO of a lease acquisition company, which gathers potentially lucrative real estate for oil and gas concerns across the country.

If he were to marry Catherine, he would be something else besides an oil and gas executive: The child's stepfather and its grandfather. According to a paternity test, his 32-year-old, son Jason L. Patton, is the father.

In what must be one of the most obvious appraisals ever, Benbrook Police Chief James Mills told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that there are "a lot of unknowns." Patton's sister said Slatkin had come by the house to pick up a few things. He threatened Patton, she claimed, as he'd done before. That day, in fact, Patton called the police non-emergency line. Mills wouldn't discuss what was said.

If Slatkin's life appeared to be coming apart at the seams, Patton had troubles of his own. He was in the middle of a divorce himself. His sister filed for a protective order against him in 1999, claiming he'd pointed a gun at her head as they fought over their father's estate. The order has since been rescinded, FWST reports, and the two have reconciled. She blamed his behavior on the previous wife.

Now, the father of one Catherine's children is dead, and the grandfather/stepfather of the other sits in jail.

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Brantley Hargrove