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Autopsy shows dead man at fire may have shot himself
Authorities not yet classifying case as suicide
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Following an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab, authorities determined Wednesday the man found dead Monday outside his burning Flowery Branch home died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Hall County Fire Services responded to the home of Dennis Chadwick off Railroad Avenue early Monday morning to find much of the home engulfed in flames and the man dead behind the house.

Flowery Branch Police Chief Gerald Lanich said all indications point to the gunshot being self-inflicted. However, the case is not being classified as a suicide, pending further investigation.

"At this point in time, all the evidence that we have gathered indicates that, more than likely, it's going to be a self-inflicted wound," Lanich said.

Lanich could not release information about any weapons found near the body or at the residence.

Autopsy results also revealed the body was exposed to extreme heat, Lanich said.

Investigators have not determined whether Chadwick, 57, was shot where his body was found or if he may have been shot elsewhere before collapsing outside the home.

Security cameras were found on the outside of the house but may not be usable because most of the house's interior was destroyed by the fire, including the security equipment, Lanich said.

Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set based on burn patterns on the floor of the 1,200-square-foot home, as well as "evidence collected in the house," Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said.

The case is being investigated by Flowery Branch Police Department, the Hall County Fire Services Marshal and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Crime Scene Unit.

Neighbors had mixed opinions of Chadwick.

Valerie Harris said her neighbor had been "acting very strange lately" and was disliked by many.

Christopher Green described Chadwick as "the nicest man in the world." He was one of the first people Green met after moving to Flowery Branch a few years ago.

"He was very, very kind and I have no idea what (Harris) could have had against him," Green said.

The owner of a business next door to the man's home said Chadwick was well liked and never caused conflict with neighbors.

"Dennis Chadwick was the cleanest person on this entire block," said Don Baggett, owner of Authentic Furniture Refurbishing. "He kept his house immaculate, he kept his yard immaculate and he even spent an entire day cleaning the outside of my shop when I injured my back and was out of work."

Friends expressed shock over the news and said they had no indication Chadwick was depressed.

After having a difficult time finding work as a dump truck driver, Chadwick attempted to work in landscaping to make ends meet, Green said.

"I don't know if that got him down. He was a very mellow guy, and it's hard to know if he was depressed or if he wasn't," Green said.


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