PELL CITY – When the men reached the barn, Riverside police Chief Rick Oliver asked John “Shane” Patterson for directions to the shooting house.
Oliver testified Wednesday it was only the night before that Patterson had told him his father was OK.
He testified Patterson told him his 76-year-old father was camping out in a shooting house on hunting property, off Police Camp Road, and had everything he needed -- heat, food; he was fine.
That story changed Saturday, Feb. 23, when the men reached an old barn on the 100-acre property.
As they drove in, John W. Patterson’s wrecked vehicle was close to the entrance gate.
“He also stated his dad was going to be mad that he wrecked the vehicle,” Oliver testified during the 90-minute preliminary hearing before St. Clair County District Court Judge Alan Furr on Wednesday.
As he waited for Patterson’s answer as to where the shooting house was on the property, the suspect, who is now charged with murder in connection with the death of his father, raised his arm and pointed to a big pile of firewood.
“Rick, dad’s right there,” Oliver testified Patterson told him.
Oliver saw nothing.
“Dad’s right there,” Patterson allegedly told the police chief.
John W. Patterson’s lifeless body was found wrapped in a tarp, in a ditch and underneath a pile of firewood. Oliver testified Patterson said he piled the firewood on top of his father’s body to keep animals away.
He testified the younger Patterson told authorities he found his father already dead, “cool to the touch” and apparently shot in the chest.
“All I could think about was who did this,” Oliver said Patterson told him after directing authorities to his father’s body.
Patterson was taken into custody and later charged.
St. Clair County District Attorney Lyle Harmon only called three witnesses during Wednesday afternoon’s preliminary hearing, which would determine if there was probable cause to bind the case over to a grand jury.
Joyce Dugger, who lived next door to the Pattersons on Hickory Lane in Pell City, testified she called the late Patterson’s cellphone after she became worried.
“I had not seen John,” she testified. “I was very concerned.”
She said the late Patterson would call her and her husband all the time, especially if he was going to be away from his home.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” she testified.
Dugger testified when she called Patterson’s cellphone number early Saturday, Feb. 23, which was after he was reported missing, his son, Shane, answered.
“Joyce, Johnny is dead,” Dugger testified the younger Patterson told her. “I went numb.”
She testified she asked Shane a few questions and asked him how did he know that his father was dead?
“Well, I saw it,” Dugger testified Shane told her.
Dugger testified Shane told her he was meeting Oliver at 10, later that Saturday morning. That was the same morning he led the Riverside police chief to his father’s body.
Harmon told the judge the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciencesdetermined Patterson died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Linda Patterson, the victim’s ex-wife and the mother of Shane Patterson, testified she filed a missing person’s report Friday, Feb. 22, with the Riverside Police Department because she thought her ex-husband could be at the hunting club in Riverside.
She testified she became concerned after she hadn’t heard from her ex-husband in days.
She also testified that her son had a prescription drug problem.
Furr ruled that there was probable cause to turn the case over to a grand jury. A grand jury will determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal trial.