Brothel owner fears employee killed in Okla. fire

AP News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2009 11:17 PM

The owner of a Nevada brothel featured on the HBO reality show "Cathouse" said Thursday he fears one of his employees is among the four people whose bodies were found in a burning house in Oklahoma City.

Dennis Hof, the owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch near Carson City, Nev., said he has not spoken with Brooke Phillips for more than a week and is unable to reach her. Hof says Phillips' aunt and a close friend believe she is one of the victims of Monday's fire.

"She was a sweet, nice girl, who tended to date the wrong guys," Hof said. "She had a lot of energy and was a lot of fun. Hundreds of girls here are just mourning. They are very upset. It's devastating to the BunnyRanch."

The state medical examiner's office and police have not released the identities or cause of death of those killed. They refused Thursday to say if Phillips, 21, who appeared on the show under the stage name Hayden Brooks, was among the dead.

Hof said Phillips left the legal brothel two months ago because she was pregnant. Hof said he spoke to her as recently as 10 days ago and discussed holding a baby shower for her. Authorities said Thursday one of the victims was pregnant, and have previously said the fire was intentionally set and ruled the deaths homicides.

The bodies of three women and one man were found by firefighters responding to the early morning fire at the one-story brick house on the city's southwest side. It was rented about three months ago to Jose Fernando Fierro, 31. His attorney, Shawn Jefferson, said Fierro was interviewed by police Wednesday and tried to help detectives investigating the fire.

"My client wasn't involved in any sort of crime and is not a suspect," Jefferson said. "He did make it out of the house alive. He was there when it happened. He was in another room, but yeah, he was there."

Both Jefferson and police refused to reveal details of what Fierro told authorities, who would only confirm that investigators have spoken to Fierro and that he is not a suspect.

"At this time, we have no suspects identified in the case," said Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow.

Jefferson also declined to say what Fierro's relationship was to the people who were killed, other than to say one of the victims "was very, very close and dear to him."

The HBO series "Cathouse" follows the lives of the women working in the brothel. Hof said he hired Phillips two years ago after she said she was a big fan of the series and wanted to work at the ranch and be on the show.

Calls to HBO for comment were not immediately returned Thursday evening.

Melvin Watkins, whose family owns the home that burned, said he saw Fierro on Sunday evening when he dropped off some items at a storage shed behind the house. He said Fierro was at the house alone and nothing seemed amiss.

A neighbor, Jay Holliday, has said he was reading his newspaper about 5:15 a.m. Monday when he heard three "popping" noises. Fire officials were notified of the fire about five minutes later.

Monday's fire came less than a week after a blaze at a southwest Oklahoma City apartment building several miles away that killed three people. Investigators have said that fire was intentionally set.