On Thanksgiving Day 2018, Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth vanished without a trace after a trip to the grocery store, where she was last seen in surveillance footage pushing a cart with her 1-year-old baby in tow.
Four weeks later, her cattle rancher fianc was arrested for her murder, with authorities alleging hed concocted several schemes to get rid of his wife-to-beand enlisted the help of his secret girlfriend.
Patrick Frazee, 33, has pleaded not guilty to several charges related to the 29-year-olds disappearance, including two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
Nearly a year after the tragedy first unfolded, opening arguments in Frazees murder trial are set to start this week in a Teller County courtroom, where prosecutors plan to argue he tried to persuade his mistress to help him kill Berreth, before taking matters into his own hands and fatally beating her with a baseball bat on Thanksgiving Day.
Authorities say Frazee then buried the 29-year-olds body, which has yet to be found, in his backyard.
My heart aches most for Kelseys closest, her parents and brother. Knowing that they have to relive every detail, from worrying about her being missing to finding out the horrific way in which she was murdered, JoDee Garretson, Berreths cousin, told The Daily Beast.I pray that Patrick Frazee is held accountable so Kelseys daughter remains in a safe and loving home with Kelseys parents.
Defense attorneys for Frazee, who insist their client is innocent, plan to argue in court there may be evidence that other individuals committed or fabricated parts of the crimes alleged, according to a September court document.
Berreth, a flight instructor at Doss Aviation, was last seen at the Safeway grocery store in Woodland Park, Colo., on Nov. 22, 2018. In security footage, she can be seen placing her daughter, Kaylee, in a shopping cart.
Ten days after the grocery store trip, Berreths mother, Cheryl, reported her missing to authorities, stating she was concerned because she had not been able to reach her daughter. In her Dec. 2 statement, Cherly said she had contacted Frazee, who was caring for Kaylee at the time, and he revealed that he hadnt spoken to his fiance in days.
When authorities entered Berreths home, they found cinnamon rolls in the kitchen that had been set out to cool, and her cars still parked outside. Her cellphone and purse, however, were missing.
Frazee told cops he last saw Berreth on Thanksgiving Day, when she dropped off their daughter at his home. He claimed to have received a text from her three days later.
While it remains unclear why Berreth didnt spend the holiday with Frazee, her mother previously told NBC the couple did not live together because of the economy.
The relationship has been good. Theyre loving, Cheryl Berreth said, adding that they hadnt set a wedding date. It hasnt been ideal, you know, given the economy and things. They had plans that havent worked out as they would have liked. But theyve dealt with that and theyve made things work regardless.
Berreths aunt, however, claimed in a Facebook post soon after her disappearance that her niece broke up with Frazee the same day she went missinga claim that hasnt been confirmed by police or her family.
Authorities say Doss Aviation received a text from the missing mothers number on Nov. 25, informing them she would be taking the following week off from work. The same day, her phone last pinged off a cell tower in Gooding, Idahonearly 800 miles away from Berreths residence in Woodland Park, police said.
Authorities arrested Frazee and charged him with his fiances murder on Dec. 21, after over 75 officers executed an extensive search warrant on the 35-acre ranch where he lives with his mother. At a press conference following the arrest, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said Frazee murdered Berreth at her townhouse and she is presumed dead.
Prosecutors argued in court documents that Frazee planned to murder his fiance for two months, making three unsuccessful attempts to kill her, one time with a poisoned Starbucks drink.
Frazees girlfriend, Krystal Lee, told authorities that hed enlisted her help in carrying out his sinister plan, telling her that Berreth abused their toddler and he needed her help. Lee, a nurse from Idaho, said she refused to assist him.
On Nov. 22, Frazee allegedly told Lee that hed killed his fiance with a baseball bat after convincing her to put on a blindfold for a candle smell test, according to court documents.
Out of fear, Lee said she helped clean up the murder scene at Berreths house two days after the incident and watched Frazee burn the body and the baseball bat somewhere in the 29-year-olds backyard.
Lee pleaded guilty in February to evidence tampering, admitting she helped dispose of Berreths cellphone in Idaho at Frazees behest. Shes expected to testify against Frazee in accordance with her plea agreement and faces up to three years in prison.
While prosecutors have not yet offered a motive behind Bereths murder, her parents argued in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in January that Frazee wanted full custody of the couples daughter.
Upon information and belief, Frazee had motive to kill Kelsey in that he wanted full custody of [their daughter] KB and/or Kelsey to leave KB with him and Kelsey would not agree, the lawsuit states. The couples daughter, Kaylee, is technically in the legal custody of the Teller County Department of Human Services but has been in Berreths parents care since December.
Prosecutors have declined to seek the death penalty in the case, meaning Frazee faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.