TELLER COUNTY, Colo. —
The Thanksgiving 2018 surveillance video that’s been viewed countless times around the world seemingly doesn’t show anything out of the ordinary. In the 14-second clip, a young mom nonchalantly loads a baby carrier onto a cart and then walks into Safeway to buy last-minute groceries.
That day, 29-year-old Kelsey Berreth called her mom twice to talk about Christmas shopping and her plans for Thanksgiving. She also sent her fiance a text to tell him she bought sweet potatoes but forgot pecans.
The short clip from Berreth’s trip to a Woodland Park grocery store would be the last time she was seen alive.
Less than a year later, Berreth is presumed dead, even though her body still hasn’t been found. Jury is selection is now underway for the trial of Patrick Frazee, Berreth's fiance who is now accused in her death.
The 30-year-old rancher is charged with first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder and tampering with a deceased human body. He has pleaded not guilty, and has been in custody in the Teller County Jail since his arrest in December.
In a county with a population of 25,000 people, 1,750 potential jurors received summons. According to court officials, 125 of those people were called Monday morning for the beginning of jury selection. Tuesday and Wednesday, that number was whittled down to about 90.
Those remaining potential jurors will return to the Teller County courthouse on Friday morning, where a final 12 jurors and four alternates will likely be seated.
Opening statements could start as soon as Friday afternoon.
This case has generated media interest from around the world. Ahead of the trial, here’s a look at what has been released about the case so far.
9NEWS will be in the courtroom throughout the trial. Check the 9NEWS app for daily video updates and articles.
What happened to Kelsey Berreth?
Cheryl Berreth first called police on Dec. 2, 2018. She said she hadn’t heard from her daughter in a week, and was starting to get worried. Before calling law enforcement, Cheryl Berreth said she called her daughter’s fiance, who told her that he hadn’t spoken to the mother of his child since Nov. 25.
According to court documents, the last text message ever sent from Kelsey Berreth’s phone read: “Do you even love me?”
This was three days after Frazee said he last saw her in person, when they exchanged their daughter in the alley outside of Kelsey Berreth’s Woodland Park condo. Frazee claimed the pair had broken up, and he returned numerous items to her, including her handgun.
According to one of the search warrants in the case, police arrived at Kelsey Berreth’s condo shortly after Cheryl Berreth asked them to check on her daughter. The 29-year-old’s two cars were both parked out front. There was a package left at the door, and a note from Black Hills Energy.
A purse was the only item that was apparently missing from inside, other than Kelsey Berreth herself, who had seemingly disappeared without a trace.
Kelsey Berreth’s boss at Doss Aviation, where she worked as a flight instructor, told police he also hadn’t heard from Berreth since Nov. 25, when she sent a text message claiming she was going to check on her out-of-state-grandmother. Berreth hadn’t shown up for work since.
Bank records would reveal that Kelsey Berreth hadn’t used her debit card since visiting Safeway on Nov. 22 -- Thanksgiving Day. Inside her home, there was no evidence of a struggle or proof that she had been planning on traveling.
Police tried to call Kelsey Berreth, but didn’t get an answer. Concerned that she may be suicidal due to her lack of contact and the fact Frazee gave her a handgun, police obtained a search warrant to track her cell phone.
And that’s when they learned where it had last pinged: Gooding, Idaho at 5:13 p.m. on Nov. 25. It was a place there is no evidence she had been before. There was no indication that she knew anyone there.
The last person she ever communicated with was Frazee.
A week after Kelsey Berreth was reported missing, her mother spoke at a news conference, imploring for her safe return.
“Kelsey, we want you home,” Cheryl Berreth said. “Call us if you can. We won’t quit looking.”
But Kelsey Berreth never returned home, and police said she was likely dead. Less than two weeks after this news conference — on Dec. 21, 2018 — Frazee was taken into custody.
That was a day after a nurse from Idaho gave police information that turned the prosecution’s whole case upside down.
Who is Krystal Lee Kenney?
After Kelsey Berreth disappeared, the Woodland Park Police Department obtained warrants to search her and Frazee’s cellphones. And it was while analyzing the latter that detectives found a series of calls to a number with an Idaho area code.
It belonged to Krystal Lee Kenney, who in her first interview with police claimed she didn’t know who Berreth was, and that she only spoke to Frazee about their business dealings once every few months.
Police didn’t buy the story.
“During this interview, in short, Lee (Kenney) provided materially false and misleading information,” a search warrant from the Woodland Park Police Department reads.
According to that warrant, Kenney later told investigators that she had been at Frazee’s house in Florissant, Colorado on Nov. 24 — something investigators didn’t believe since the two had been calling each other when they had allegedly been together in person.
Using tracking data from cell phone towers, investigators were able to piece together evidence Kenney was closer to the case than she initially claimed.
According to the warrant, cellphone data linked Kenney’s location to a tower that would have also serviced Berreth’s home the morning of Nov. 24 — and not Frazee’s ranch, where she said she was.
Additional data showed that both Kenney’s and Berreth’s phones pinged at a remote cellphone tower near the Colorado/Utah border the morning of Nov. 25. And this gave police pivotal information.
“It is reasonable to assume, based on this information, that Lee (Kenney) was likely in possession of Berreth’s cellular telephone,” the warrant reads.
On Dec. 17, Kenney agreed to cooperate with investigators, but only after speaking to an attorney. The real conversation happened on Dec. 20.
That’s when, according to the warrant, she alleged that she and Frazee had rekindled their romantic relationship — and that he had been contemplating killing Berreth since at least September 2018.
“Indeed, Frazee had approached Lee (Kenney) in the past with plans to kill Berreth, although the plans did not come to fruition until Nov. 22, 2018,” the warrant reads.
Kenney told investigators Frazee said Berreth was an abusive mother (police have found no evidence to corroborate this). On one occasion, Kenney said Frazee told her to give Berreth a poisoned caramel macchiato from Starbucks. In another case, Kenney claimed Frazee told her to beat her to death with a metal pipe.
According to the warrant, a friend of Kenney’s told police she mentioned Frazee’s plan during a phone call on Oct. 22. The friend encouraged Kenney to tell police. There’s no evidence that she ever did.
And while Kenney was in Idaho with her family celebrating Thanksgiving, she said she received a text from Frazee telling her “she had a mess to clean up,” the warrant says.
Kenney told police she knew that “mess” meant Frazee had followed through on his plan.
And so, Kenney claimed she borrowed a friend’s car and drove to Colorado with bleach, a hairnet, shoe covers and other supplies from Idaho. She said her first stop was Berreth’s condo.
“Lee (Kenney) described a horrific scene at Berreth’s residence that was inclusive of blood all over the residence,” the warrant reads. “Blood was on the curtains, pillows, books, baby toys, stuffed animals, oven mitts, Berreth’s purse and other items.”
According to the warrant, Kenney said Frazee claimed that on Thanksgiving — while the couple’s young daughter was in the other room — he blindfolded Berreth and beat her to death with a baseball bat. Kenney said Frazee claimed he put his fiancee’s body into a tote box and stored it in a barn.
Kenney said she used bleach and Windex to clean the crime scene — a task that took hours. In addition, Kenney told investigators Frazee had asked her to look for teeth that had been knocked out during the commission of the crime.
Later that afternoon, Kenney said she went with Frazee to retrieve the box containing Berreth’s body, and watched as he burned it, her purse and the baseball bat inside a silo on his property.
According to Kenney, Frazee gave her Berreth’s cellphone. Kenney said she used that phone in Woodland Park, Grand Junction, Utah and Idaho to text Berreth’s mom, Berreth’s boss and Frazee himself.
“Investigators were able to corroborate this information, and cell-site records confirmed Berreth’s phone (was) indeed used in Woodland Park, Grand Junction and Utah,” the warrant reads. “These specific locations were not released to the media.”
Kenney said she threw away Berreth’s cellphone in Idaho. It has not been found.
She has since pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with physical evidence for her role in the crime, and will testify against Frazee during his trial.
Though the defense missed a deadline to name Kenney as an alternate suspect, she will likely be under a microscope since much of the prosecution’s evidence hinges on her testimony.
And even in their arrest affidavit, police conceded that she has a reputation for not being entirely truthful.
“Lee (Kenney) admitted she initially lied to FBI investigators, her ex-husband and her friends about her whereabouts and the purpose of her trip to Colorado,” the warrant reads.
But, police went on to say despite her history of being less than truthful, they now believe Kenney.
“Lee (Kenney) has now fully cooperated with investigators in consideration of charges, and made truthful statements that have been corroborated,” the warrant says.
The prosecution's other evidence against Patrick Frazee
Before Kenney began cooperating with investigators, police were already building a case against Frazee, according to court documents.
Much of that comes from cellphone records and surveillance footage that police said contradicts statements Frazee made to investigators.
According to the arrest affidavit, Frazee was seen walking into Berreth’s condo at 1:24 p.m. on Thanksgiving — after he claimed he saw her for the last time and exchanged custody of their daughter in an alleyway. Shortly thereafter, Frazee was seen in the Woodland Park Walmart with the child.
The surveillance footage also captured a man that appears to be Frazee entering Berreth’s apartment at 3:36 p.m. that day, the affidavit says. At around this same time, cellphone records also show he called his mother and Kenney.
Those cellphone records showed police something else, according to the warrant.
“Investigators learned that much of the communication between Frazee’s cell phone and Berreth’s cell phone between Nov. 22 and Nov. 25, 2018 was a scheme developed by Frazee in an attempt to distract law enforcement, distort the actual date of her disappearance and separate himself as a suspect in the murder investigation,” the affidavit says.
Police found multiple calls between Berreth and Frazee’s phone after her disappearance. But, according to the affidavit, using cellphone data, investigators were able to find the two phones were likely traveling together.
On Nov. 23, according to the affidavit, both Berreth and Frazee’s phones used the cell tower in Florissant that services Frazee’s ranch. Later that day, the two phones apparently traveled together west of Cripple Creek, according to the affidavit. The next day, the two phones returned to that remote area, and then to an area serviced by a tower near Frazee’s home once again, the affidavit says.
Investigators also analyzed blood found in Berreth’s condo by her family, who had been staying there after her disappearance and spotted a strange substance at the base of the toilet.
According to the affidavit, police determined this was likely Berreth’s blood — and found more of it on the bathtub, towel rack, door handle, ceiling and other parts of the bathroom.
Additional testing found the blood matched Berreth’s DNA profile, but there was also the presence of an unknown man and unknown woman. According to the affidavit, it’s unlikely the male profile is Frazee’s based on lab reports.
During a search of Frazee’s home, the affidavit says investigators found a bottle of bleach and a mop that were found to have presumptive positive tests for the presence of blood.
Investigators also found a document that listed five people who could provide medical care for Frazee and Berreth’s child in the event he was absent. According to the affidavit, the document was dated Dec. 12.
“Of particular interest, Kelsey Berreth’s name was not on the list, presumably because she is deceased,” the affidavit reads.
During a search of Frazee's apartment, police seized numerous items — including human teeth.
This is of note, since, according to Kenney, Frazee told her he had knocked out some of Berreth's teeth during the alleged murder.
Where is Kelsey Berreth’s body?
Though Frazee has been charged with murder, Berreth’s body has not yet been found.
Over the course of a few weeks earlier this year, investigators combed through the Midway Landfill in Fountain for evidence related to Berreth’s disappearance. Nothing was found, according to the Woodland Park Police Department.
Investigators also searched Frazee’s property shortly after her disappearance, but did not find Berreth’s remains.
“At this point, authorities have not found the body of Kelsey Berreth,” 9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson said earlier this year. “And that’s expected to be the only weakness in the prosecution’s case unless they can explain why the absence of a corpse doesn’t matter in the context of this case.”
Who has custody of Patrick Frazee and Kelsey Berreth’s daughter?
There have been multiple closed custody hearings regarding this issue since Berreth’s disappearance and Frazee’s subsequent arrest.
As of this writing, the child is in the custody of Berreth’s family. The judge has ruled a final decision won’t be made until Frazee completes the legal process.
How long will Patrick Frazee’s trial last?
At this point, the trial is scheduled to last for three weeks in the Teller County courthouse in Cripple Creek.
Jury selection began Monday, Oct. 28 and finished on Friday. The judge has said he hopes the trial will be over by Nov. 22, but it could go into Thanksgiving Week depending on how long jury deliberations take.
The case is being prosecuted by Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May. Frazee is being represented by the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office.
May will not pursue the death penalty against Frazee. If he is convicted of murder, he will receive an automatic sentence of life in prison.
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