How Investigators Zeroed In on Patrick Frazee in Kelsey Berreth's Murder

Playing

Text messages show how Patrick Frazee allegedly tried to hide Kelsey Berreth's murder from investigators, authorities say.

Frazee's phone continued to receive texts from Berreth's phone after police say she was killed at her Colorado residence on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day, newly released search warrants show. Some were run of the mill, such as asking Frazee to take care of their 1-year-old daughter or talking about how she was feeling tired.

But on Nov. 24, the tone of the messages changed. "If this is truly what you want," read a text from Berreth's phone to Frazee's, "I’ll respect your wishes and give you space. Let me know if you change your mind. I’ll leave you alone now, you can call me when you decide what you want to do."

"Do you even love me?" a text from Berreth's phone to Frazee's read the next day, Nov. 25. 

"Why would I bend over backwards and stand behind you thru everything if I didn't? So to answer your question yes I do," Frazee replied.

By this point, though, investigators believe Berreth had already been dead for three days and her phone had been driven to Idaho by Frazee's one-time girlfriend, Krystal Lee Kenney.

A 'Mess'

The text messages were part of what investigators call a months-long plot to kill Berreth, beginning back in September. 

According to Kenney, Frazee allegedly tried to convince her to kill Berreth on at least three separate occasions. In one instance, he spoke about "putting poison" in Berreth's coffee, an arrest affidavit released last month states. In another, he allegedly gave Kenney a metal pipe to hit Berreth with. She later gave it back to him. 

Finally, investigators say, Frazee went through with it himself at her home. On Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day, Frazee allegedly tied a blindfold around Berreth's eyes and had her try to guess the scents of different candles. It was a romantic gesture — their relationship had been somewhat fraught of late, Frazee would later tell investigators, though text messages exchanged between the pair before Berreth's death show they had been planning to spend Thanksgiving together.

But while Berreth's eyes were covered, Frazee allegedly lifted a baseball bat behind her head and hit her so hard, teeth went scattering across the floor. 

In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Frazee allegedly called Kenney, with whom he'd been having an on- and off-again relationship for more than a decade, for help, she told investigators, according to the affidavit. 

He had "a mess to clean up," she said he told her. She replied that it would be two days before she could get there.

In the meantime, the affidavit states, Frazee allegedly put Berreth's body in black tote bag with silver handles and put it in a barn at Nash Ranch in Fremont County while he went to Thanksgiving dinner. 

When Kenney finally arrived, she said Berreth's residence was covered in blood. She told investigators she collected the items that could not be cleaned — pillows, curtains, books, baby toys — and burned them. 

She said she then spent hours scrubbing the floors, the walls and the ceiling, using bleach and Windex to get the job done.

It wasn't enough. Kelsey's mother, Cheryl, would later discover a suspicious stain on the underside of the toilet seat, a photo of which is included in the newly released documents.

Cheryl had already reported her daughter missing on Dec. 2, having not physically spoken to her since Nov. 22. When she contacted Frazee about Kelsey, he told her they had parted ways and he had not seen her since Thanksgiving. 

Asked by investigators about Frazee, Cheryl shared a story of his behavior immediately after their daughter's birth. There were complications during the birth, according to Cheryl, and the child had to be taken for treatment immediately afterward. Frazee "became so upset and verbally abusive with the nursing staff that Social Services was notified," according to the search warrants. Cheryl added that Frazee later said he could have "killed" the nurse who reported him. 

Crime scene analysts swabbed the stain on the toilet and it tested positive for blood, prompting them to do a more detailed search of the rest of Kelsey's home, and traces of blood were ultimately found nearly everywhere — on the floor, the towel rack, the ceiling above the toilet, the walls, according to the search warrants. 

At this point, investigators were convinced Kelsey was the victim of a murder. The problem? There was no body. 

Frazee's Arrest

As the last person to see Kelsey, Frazee came under suspicion. 

Frazee told investigators he last saw Kelsey when she handed off their daughter on Thanksgiving Day. But surveillance photos show a man who appears to be Frazee going in and out of Kelsey's home after he said he last saw her, the newly released search warrants show.

Another clue that pointed investigators to Frazee are cellphone records: Frazee and Kelsey's cellphones were never in separate areas during the evening of Nov. 22. 

On Nov. 23, the day after the murder, call logs show Frazee made a call to Kelsey's cellphone. But the calls use the same cell site near Frazee's home, indicating that the two phones remained in close proximity, according to the documents. This pattern continued until Nov. 25, at which point Kelsey's phone had moved into Utah and finally ended up in Idaho.

The last ping from Kelsey's phone was in Idaho, where it is now known that Kenney disposed of it, by her own admission.

A search of Frazee's home turned up bleach, Simple Green cleaner and a Swiffer, all of which came back positive for blood, according to the search warrants. Multiple bags of teeth were also found. 

In addition, investigators located a handwritten note apparently penned by Frazee listing people who could take care of his daughter should he be taken into custody. Kelsey was not on the list, suggesting to investigators that she was dead and Frazee knew it.

Frazee was taken into custody on Dec. 21 on suspicion of murder, where he has remained ever since. He denies having anything to do with Kelsey's death. He has not yet entered a plea to the charges he faces, including first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder and tampering with a corpse. He is due in court on April 5. 

The couple's daughter is currently in the custody of her grandparents, Kelsey's parents. 

Kelsey's body has still not been found, although authorities said they have reason to believe her body was burned and disposed of at Midway Landfill in Fountain, Colorado. Officials have been actively sifting through the landfill since Feb. 26 in the hopes of finding a trace of Kelsey. 

Kenney has pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with physical evidence and will testify against Frazee. She will be sentenced after his trial.

As the search continues for the body, "Dateline" met with a woman whose daughter dated Frazee. Georgia Curie said he was psychologically abusive to her daughter.

"She loved him but she hated him, and she feared him," Curie said in the interview.

It got so bad her daughter "almost thought about suicide one weekend," she said.

"Dateline" reached out to Frazee's attorney but he declined to comment. "The Vanishing of Kelsey Berreth" airs on Dateline Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

RELATED STORIES

What to Know About the Missing Colorado Mom Last Seen on Thanksgiving Day

Search for Kelsey's Berreth's Remains Brings Investigators to Colorado Landfill: Report

Patrick Frazee Accused of Beating Kelsey Berreth to Death With Baseball Bat