Police name brothel worker as victim in OKC fire

AP News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2009 9:15 PM

A pregnant Nevada brothel worker who appeared in an HBO reality series and another 22-year-old mom-to-be had been fatally shot before firefighters discovered their bodies in a burning Oklahoma City home, investigators said Friday.

The women were among four victims found in Monday's blaze. A man and another woman have yet to be identified. Authorities say the fire was deliberately set and are treating the case as a homicide.

Oklahoma City Police Department spokesman Sgt. Gary Knight said Friday the Medical Examiner's Office determined that Brooke Phillips and Milagrous Barrera _ both 22 years old and pregnant _ had died of gunshot wounds.

Knight said efforts to identify the victims have been slow because the bodies are so badly damaged, adding, "they were severely burned."

Knight said authorities had not identified a suspect.

Phillips had worked at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a legal brothel near Carson City, Nev. which was featured in an HBO reality series, "Cathouse."

"That's terrible, terrible, terrible. We're sad." said Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch. "It's been the saddest few days of the 54 years at the BunnyRanch."

Police have interviewed Jose Fernando Fierro, the sole survivor of the blaze, but he is not a suspect, his lawyer said Friday.

"It's very lucky," attorney Shawn Jefferson said. "The house was big enough that people could be in different places. I don't think he saw anything."

Fierro had been renting the house for about three months, and he was close friends with two others in the home, Jefferson said. "One of them was lifelong," he said.

Jefferson declined to identify any of the victims or discuss details of what Fierro told police as well as other aspects of the investigation.

Hof described Phillips as "a popular, outgoing, charismatic girl" who was a big part of the HBO series "Cathouse," which followed 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.

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He said she had asked to take some time off after she learned she was pregnant but that she had not told him the identity of the father.

A friend of Phillips, fellow BunnyRanch employee Cami Parker, described her as "a really fun girl" who was excited about her pregnancy.

"I never heard her say anything except positive things. She was always really happy, really upbeat," Parker said. "We used to play Scrabble together. She was so funny. She was always going for the dirty words."

About two dozen messages of condolence had been posted on the BunnyRanch Web site since Phillips' possible death was first reported on Thursday, many from friends and co-workers.

"Everybody's like really upset," Parker said.