Missing Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth vanished on Thanksgiving and still hasn’t been found. But on Monday, prosecutors charged her fiancé with her murder and with recruiting someone to kill her, shedding more light on a case that’s wracked with unknowns.
Patrick Frazee, a 32-year-old cattle rancher and the father of Kelsey’s child, was in court to face a slew of charges: two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. According to 11News, the two murder charges show prosecutors have two theories of the alleged slaying.
The first charge states Frazee murdered Kelsey after deliberation and with intent, while the second suggests Kelsey died during the execution of a second crime. Court papers state that Frazee, and possibly another person or persons, allegedly tried to rob Kelsey before she died.
Prosecutors also allege Frazee tried to enlist someone to murder Kelsey on occasions between September and November of 2018, according to the documents.
Kelsey was killed on Thanksgiving Day, the court papers indicate, though few other details are available on what happened. Arrest affidavits in the case are sealed.
Woodland Park police arrested Frazee and charged him with Kelsey’s murder on Dec. 21. The bust came days after police executed a search warrant on Frazee’s 35-acre ranch, a property in Florissant where he lives with his mother.
Frazee is being held without bond in Teller County Jail. The accused killer is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 29.
He declined to enter a plea during Monday’s hearing, KOAA News 5 reported. District Attorney Dan May said his office will not make a decision on seeking the death penalty until Frazee enters a plea, according to KOAA.
Days before Christmas, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young told reporters that investigators believe Frazee killed Kelsey at her townhouse. Kelsey is presumed dead, though her body hasn’t been found, he said.
“Our work is just beginning,” De Young told reporters. “You will be seeing a great deal of law enforcement activity in our community in the coming days and even weeks as we continue our relentless pursuit of justice for Kelsey and her family.”
De Young said cellphone records and other data led to Frazee’s arrest, as well as multiple searches of Kelsey’s and Frazee’s homes.
Asked whether cops could soon make additional arrests, De Young replied, “That’s an absolute possibility.”
Police have provided few clues to the public in the weeks after Kelsey disappeared.
A 29-year-old flight instructor, Kelsey was last seen entering a Safeway supermarket on Thanksgiving Day with her and Frazee’s 1-year-old daughter Kaylee, according to the store’s surveillance footage.
Cops initially said Kelsey vanished after a “custody exchange” with Frazee, leading to speculation as to why an engaged couple would spend the holiday apart and have a custody arrangement.
Kelsey and Frazee had never lived together in Colorado, according to Kelsey’s mother, Cheryl Berreth. In an interview earlier this month, Cheryl said the couple’s plans to find a home together were dashed by the economy.
“The relationship has been good. They’re loving,” Cheryl told NBC News. “It hasn’t been ideal, you know, given the economy and things. They had plans that haven’t worked out as they would have liked. But they’ve dealt with that and they’ve made things work regardless.”
Cheryl reported Kelsey missing on Dec. 2, after she couldn’t reach her and contacted Frazee, who claimed he last heard from her on Nov. 25.
“She’s not the kind that runs off,” Cheryl said at a press conference in early December. “This is completely out of character.”
As The Daily Beast reported, one of Kelsey’s aunts posted in a Facebook group for truckers, claiming Kelsey “broke up with her ex on Thanksgiving.” The aunt added that Frazee said Kelsey was heading to Washington state to see family.
“No one knew anything about the visit,” the aunt said in the post, which asked truck drivers for help in finding her missing niece.
Kelsey grew up on a farm in Moses Lake, Washington, and moved to Colorado in 2016 to be with Frazee. It’s unclear how the couple met.
Cheryl and Kelsey’s brother, Clint, flew to Colorado to search for her. When they entered Kelsey’s Woodland Park home, they found cinnamon rolls that had cooled in her kitchen. They also noted both her vehicles were parked outside her residence, and her luggage and makeup appeared untouched.
The only things missing were Kelsey’s purse and her cellphone, which investigators say pinged nearly 800 miles away in Gooding, Idaho.
On Nov. 25, Kelsey’s cellphone texted her employer to say she’d be absent from work the following week. The phone also texted Frazee the same day, though what the message said hasn’t been released.
According to the Denver Post, Kelsey’s phone was discovered in southern Idaho, and investigators have indicated someone other than Kelsey transported it out of Colorado.
The day after Frazee’s arrest, authorities in Twin Falls, Idaho, announced they were working with the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation to serve search warrants in connection to Kelsey’s case. Twin Falls is about a 45-minute drive south of Gooding.
In a press release, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office and Twin Falls Police Department said they’d served the warrants and processed items of evidence, though the agencies didn’t disclose information about those items.
Meanwhile, as cops conducted their investigation throughout December, Frazee had custody of the couple’s daughter. The little girl was taken into protective custody following Frazee’s arrest and is now being cared for by Kelsey’s parents.
A judge will later decide on the girl’s permanent custody arrangement, as Frazee’s mother, Sheila, has filed a motion to intervene in the case.
Kelsey’s brother-in-law, Brandon Kindle, previously told The Daily Beast that the Berreth family was ecstatic about Kelsey’s new baby. “Kelsey was so excited. It was a different chapter, something that brought so much joy,” Kindle said.
“She was a dream for Kelsey and her family,” Kindle added. “We couldn’t spoil that baby enough. It was a beautiful thing.”