William Patterson died in February. (File)
WACO (May 16, 2012)—The fiery February death of a Baylor freshman whose body was found in a burned out car has been ruled a suicide.
McLennan County Justice of the Peace Kristi DeCluitt released a one-page report of the autopsy findings Wednesday morning that said William Patterson died Feb. 9 of thermal burns and smoke inhalation after his Cadillac CTS was found ablaze in the 400 block of Eastland Lake Drive off Loop 340 between University Parks Drive and South 3rd Street Road.
DeCluitt, who ordered the autopsy, had said a finding on the cause of Patterson's death couldn’t be issued until toxicology tests were complete.
The full autopsy report, however, has not been received by Judge DeCluitt.
A source close to the investigation, however, said Patterson's parents identified their son in the video from a gas station where he filled up two 5-gallon containers with gasoline a short time before the fire was reported.
Patterson, who appears to have been alone, paid in cash, the source said.
Without a credit card transaction, however, it's not clear how investigators were able to track down the video quickly.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which sent an arson expert from its Austin office to the fire scene, said it "has no further interest in the case" and referred further questions to the McLennan County Sheriff's Office.
Patterson reportedly was in his dorm room in Penland Hall at around 2 a.m. on the day of the fire, but was gone when his roommate woke up at around 7 a.m., which is about the same time a woman who was driving to work called 911 to report the car fire.
Authorities said Patterson's body was burned beyond recognition.
Patterson's parents drove from San Antonio to Waco home with a copy of their son's dental records.
The area where the car was found is near Baylor's Eastland Lakes Complex, which includes a clubhouse and a challenge course.
Patterson, a Film and Digital Media major, graduated from Churchill High School in San Antonio.
His brother Evan, 21, is a fifth-year senior at Baylor, according to a former president of the university's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity chapter of which Evan Patterson is a member and which Will Patterson was pledging this semester.