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'We never wanted to let her down': Meet the investigators who helped solve Kelsey Berreth's murder

Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents Gregg Slater and Chris Adams discuss the impact of the murder of Woodland Park mother Kelsey Berreth.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Two people are behind bars following the 2018 death and disappearance of Woodland Park mother and flight instructor Kelsey Berreth.

One of them – Patrick Frazee – will spend the rest of his life in prison after he was found guilty of murdering the mother of his young child.

Idaho nurse Krystal Lee Kenney was sentenced to three years in prison per an agreement with prosecutors where she pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in exchange for testifying against Frazee. She admitted to disposing of Berreth’s cellphone after she said Frazee beat the 29-year-old to death while the couple’s young daughter was in the other room.

RELATED: 'She mattered': Man sentenced to life plus 156 years for murdering Kelsey Berreth

Credit: Courtesy Berreth Family

Berreth’s body has never been found, and even though the trial against her killer is over, the two lead investigators in the case say they’ll never stop looking for her.

9NEWS Reporter Jennifer Meckles was there for all 15 days of Frazee’s trial, and she sat down with Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents Gregg Slater and Chris Adams (formerly of the Woodland Park Police Department) to discuss Berreth’s disappearance and what they want the public to focus on in the aftermath of a crime that has drawn national attention.

>>> Click the video above for an extended interview with Slater and Adams. Keep reading for a Q&A with the two investigators. 

Editor’s note: Some of the questions and responses have been edited for clarity and length.  

Jennifer Meckles: In the beginning, Kelsey Berreth’s disappearance was just a missing person’s case. When were the turning points? When did you realize it was a murder? 

Credit: Mike Grady, KUSA
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Chris Adams.

Chris Adams: So at first, it started out as a missing person on Sunday, Dec. 2. Monday morning rolled around so we looked at it a little more. Dec. 4, nothing new came up, things just weren’t sitting right with me. The vehicles were sitting there, we just couldn’t bring any proof or signs that she left on her own.

We couldn’t find any signs of struggle, or anything like that. So, I decided to reach out to the FBI.

Meckles: So you had a gut feeling. What happened next? 

Credit: Mike Grady, KUSA
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Gregg Slater.

Gregg Slater: In the beginning, I didn’t get involved until I spoke on the phone with Chris (editor’s note: at the time of Berreth’s disappearance, Adams worked for the Woodland Park Police Department)

He’d called down to the office and asked for assistance. It wasn’t until we got up there and it was about noon on Dec. 4 that we met with Chris, we started to look at the offense reports, the reports the police officers had generated, and at that point to me, it was just a little odd, it didn’t seem characteristic of Kelsey’s behavior.

It was until after I got done interviewing Cheryl Berreth and Clint Berreth … that it began to cause me to think ‘this is just not characteristic of Kelsey. This is not something she would just up and leave.’ My interview with Cheryl and Clint, I learned Kelsey was a very proud mom, a hardworking woman, determined, a great mom. She had never gone off before … she was always in communication with her mom.

There were no signs of forced entry into the home. There were no signs of a struggle, at that point I started thinking ‘this isn’t a woman who would have left on her own.’

Meckles: In the beginning, you were probably getting a lot of versions of stories. We now know that Patrick Frazee was a manipulator, who was telling lies all over town about Kelsey. 

Credit: KRDO

Slater: For me, it was interesting as we started getting into the investigation, we were contacting people who knew Patrick, it was interesting how nobody had seen Kelsey, nobody had known Kelsey as an individual. They had seen her through Patrick.

That was a complete contrast to what Cheryl was telling us about Kelsey, so it was kind of a unique thing. It was really interesting, you really started to get a flavor for Patrick. We never got to talk to him.

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Luckily, the first Woodland Park officer to take the call with Patrick had the wherewithal to record the conversation, memorialize it.

During that call, he’s not raising any concern whatsoever, even though he’s claiming this relationship was over. It’s just not sitting right with me that he’s not trying to find out where the mother of his child is. That was odd to me.

Meckles: What was Woodland Park like at the time of Kelsey’s disappearance? 

Adams: I think the town came together. Nothing brings people together more than a tragedy, unfortunately. Groups were starting to try to figure out what had happened. Tips were coming in, where she could have been seen, where she is, people were impacted, people who could have known Patrick.

The community was very involved.

Meckles: How did you start to realize that this woman from Idaho was involved? 

Credit: Courtesy Teller County Sheriff's Office
A mugshot of Krystal Lee after she was booked into the Teller County Sheriff's Office on January 29, 2020.

Adams: Cellphone warrants were written for the records on Frazee’s phone. They were submitted to Special Agent Kevin Hoyland with the FBI, and he did what he does and came up with her number.

RELATED: What cellphone data showed investigators in the Kelsey Berreth murder case

Meckles: Once you had the chance to talk to Krystal, how did you react? 

Slater: I had to take a second … Johnny Grusing, an FBI agent, him and I had known each for years, we worked together a long time, so it was Johnny and I who did the first two interviews with Krystal.

We went up and knocked on Krystal’s door. Johnny and I had talked and everything on the flight out there, kind of had a game plan. It was very apparent Krystal wanted to talk, Krystal wanted to provide information, but she wanted to protect herself, which is understandable.

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I’ve been doing this a long time and been in police work for 37 years. I’ve never had a no body case, and I’ve never had a case where the body’s been burned. I didn’t expect that, I didn’t expect Krystal to come out and say Kelsey was burned. I wasn’t expecting Krystal to come out and say the things that she said.

It was like ‘holy crap, this is bizarre.’

Adams: I was in another room watching as it was happening. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to digest it. It took a couple days to really sink in and … just what are the next steps, how do we get closure for the family?

I was just in awe that somebody could do this, and she could just sit there and tell the story like she was. She was obviously choked up and crying and sobbing and just the involvement … to not come forward like she did?

Meckles: Sitting in the courtroom each day, I struggled to go between empathy for Krystal and complete horror. 

Slater: Despite what we think, everybody’s going to draw their own opinions on Krystal.

Krystal told us about how Kelsey had been beaten and burned and … in my mind I’m formulating ‘hopefully she knows where she’s at, how are we going to get search and rescue?’ I’m hoping we’re going to find the body, and when she tells us she’s burned I thought ‘how do I tell [Kelsey’s mother]?

How do you tell a mother and father that your daughter’s been burned? It’s hard to tell a parent, it’s hard to tell a loved one that their parent, or daughter or son had been murdered but to tell them this happened? I couldn’t do it.

I was really struggling and I just told her the way it was.

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Krystal did some horrific things, and as horrific as what Patrick did, Krystal did some hardcore things too. It’s hard for me to understand what Krystal did and why she did it.

It was hard and it’s still hard for me to understand why she made the decisions she made partially because I’m not in a domestic violence situation. I have an appreciation and respect for the dynamics of it all.

She’s an intelligent woman, she’s a good mom. The decisions she made and why, I will never understand. Quite frankly, I’m not sure any of us would ever understand, but without Krystal, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Adams: I’m still torn, I think, between empathy and just being appalled by what she did. Yes, I’m appalled. Like Gregg said, I’m not part of a domestic situation, I have never been, I can’t speak to what’s going through someone’s mind.

It’s just hard to understand, 11 hours, 10-hour drive, come down and do that and you don’t call the cops? Don’t understand it.

Slater: Krystal, people can draw their own conclusions. But Krystal mentioned essentially ‘I know what I was did was wrong, I’ll never be able to repay the Berreth family for that, I’ll never be able to repay Kelsey or her daughter. But I try every day to make amends for what I did’ and she would say ‘I don’t know what I can do other than that.’

And I thought that was kind of an interesting comment. I’ve never heard that from someone who’s been involved as an accessory or whatever people consider her.

I will say that Krystal was genuine in her comments about how every day she strives to make amends for what she does, but it doesn’t do anything to minimize her actions.

Meckles: What’s something about how this case has been portrayed over the past year that you wish was different? 

Credit: KUSA

Slater: Focus on Kelsey, because this was about her. Unfortunately, we never got to meet Kelsey in life. Our meeting with Kelsey was … we would have loved to have met her under a different circumstance.

For a woman to be involved in the aviation industry, or the military … it’s not an easy task. It’s a difficult world to get in, but she had no difficulties at all. She was so well-respected, she was revered, she was appreciated, the comments that her coworkers made about her, even how the students talked about her, really showed what a wonderful person she was and just how dedicated she was not only to her daughter, but to her country.

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People forget about this. It was lost in all this, and it shouldn’t have been.

Adams: More focus on Kelsey, because when her daughter’s a teenager and Googling, seeing what the story is, she won’t just see the negative things. Hopefully something positive will pop up about her mother.

Meckles: During Frazee’s trial, what do you think ultimately persuaded the jury that he was guilty? 

Slater: I think cellphone information was huge. I think the timeline was also very big, and again, you can’t take away from what Krystal said. What Krystal said, we corroborated.

I think we had a jury that took their responsibilities very seriously. I think they paid attention tremendously well … they were always on point, they paid attention, and they took in all the information from both sides. I think they saw the forest through the trees.

Adams: Cpl. Dena Currin’s foresight in recording the only statement made by Patrick. And the prosecution team did a wonderful job. They were able to show what he said and prove that wasn’t true.

Slater: That was the only voice Patrick had. By his own choice. That’s his right, his story and what the corporal did in recording that. Because you never hear him speak, you never know what he’s gonna sound like, and that in itself was huge.

I also think the last thing Krystal said, when she was asked by Jennifer Viehman the prosecutor, ‘did Patrick tell you anything?’ And Krystal said Kelsey said ‘please stop.’ That was pretty powerful.”

RELATED: ‘No body, no crime’: Friend of Kelsey Berreth murder suspect says he made disturbing comments

Meckles: When did you feel the most confident when you were sitting in trial? 

Adams: I think it ebbs and flows the entire time.

I think there’s times throughout the trial where you’re sitting back, you’re just like the jury, hearing what the prosecution wants you to hear and what the defense wants you to hear, you’re going ‘how is that going to affect things?’ or ‘wow, I didn’t think of that’ or ‘wow, he has me convinced, does he have the jury convinced?’

Meckles: How do you feel now that there’s a conviction? 

Credit: Courtesy 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office
Woodland Park mom Kelsey Berreth hasn't been seen alive since Nov. 22, 2018. Her former fiance is now serving a life sentence for her murder.

Adams: I think that’s a hard one to answer. It’s a bittersweet victory because unfortunately Kelsey’s not here, not being here takes away from it being a happy moment. I don’t think it’s closure, but it’s the best our criminal justice system can do to the Berreth family.

Slater: How we feel means nothing. I hope if Kelsey’s soul has the ability, she knows that people did care, that we, all of us involved – all the people from the FBI, CBI, the DA’s Office, everybody – people did care. She was and still is important, and always will be.

Meckles: Is there anything with this case that still unsettles you? 

Adams: Why. I’d like to know why Patrick chose to do this. Why Krystal went through with what she did, why Patrick didn’t just walk away. The whys.

Slater: There’s questions we have never answered. I don’t put pictures of victims in my cubicles or anything like that. I think we all remember our victims, all of them in cases like this.

Kelsey’s just going to be one that’s going to stick with me for a long time. I just can’t fathom why Patrick did it. I don’t know what possesses an individual, be it Patrick or anyone else, to be so angry and violent to the mother of their child. I just don’t know.

Meckles: What have you learned from this case that you will apply going forward? 

Adams: Obviously I learned a lot about the types of investigations, steps to take, you know, the procedural.

I also got to learn about Kelsey and her family, who I wouldn’t have known given the unfortunate situation. I just got to learn a lot about her.

Slater: It’s nice to learn about a person like Kelsey. That there is good in this world, and she’s a great example of that. Her family is a great example of good people in this world.

Meckles: It’s been a long year. You have a lot going on: real lives, real families, and yet the weight of this has been on your shoulders. 

Slater: You take the weight of all this to make sure that Kelsey is remembered and properly represented. The enormity and the weight of making sure that Kelsey gets the justice.

There’s never any justice that will bring Kelsey back but just … the weight and enormity of it all and to not let her down. I mean for me, we’ve talked about this, we never wanted to let Kelsey down.

Meckles: Is that kind of your north star? 

Slater: Our guiding light. That’s what it is, and still to this day always will be. Because we’re not giving up … we’d love to find where she is.

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