CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. — The morning of Thanksgiving 2018, Kelsey Berreth called her mom twice. At one point, she had asked for a recipe for the family’s famous bread dip. The two of them had also discussed how Kelsey Berreth hadn’t gotten much sleep since she had made an early morning trip to the grocery store to buy her fiance medicine.
“We talked about simple things, really, she talked about the cinnamon rolls she gave [her one-year-old daughter] for breakfast,” Cheryl Berreth said in Teller County Court Friday afternoon. “[Her daughter] had wanted Honeynut Cheerios, so we talked about that.’
After Cheryl Berreth hung up the phone, she said she texted her daughter’s fiance — Patrick Frazee — and told him she hoped he’d get well soon. She said he responded with “Happy Thanksgiving.”
Just hours after sending that text, Frazee is accused of beating Kelsey Berreth to death inside of her Woodland Park home and burning her body at his family’s ranch in Florissant. That Thanksgiving morning phone call between mother and daughter would be their last, and Frazee would be arrested just a few weeks later. He is now standing trial for first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, and tampering with a deceased human body.
Cheryl Berreth was the first witness called to the stand after jury selection and opening statements concluded on Friday afternoon. The beginning of her testimony focused on Kelsey Berreth herself, and the 29-year-old’s childhood on a farm in Washington with dreams of becoming a pilot. That dream would come true; Berreth became a flight instructor and had been working as one in Pueblo before her death.
According to Cheryl Berreth, her daughter met Frazee online, and she moved to Colorado to be closer to him, despite some conflicts with his family when she first arrived. She bounced between a studio apartment in Florissant to a home in Grand Junction to finally her condo in Woodland Park, where she and her family celebrated her baby daughter’s birthday about a month before Kelsey Berreth’s disappearance.
“She was a great mom,” Cheryl Berreth said, adding that Kelsey Berreth’s life revolved around taking care of her and Frazee’s child.
The Berreth family had been planning on visiting Colorado once again over Christmas. This visit would never happen. Cheryl Berreth reported Kelsey Berreth missing on Dec. 2, 2018, when she realized she hadn’t heard from her for multiple days.
Cheryl Berreth said she immediately called Frazee, who told her he and Kelsey Berreth had broken up. On the witness stand, Cheryl Berreth said her daughter had told her no such thing. The next day, she and her son got on a plane to Colorado and took an Uber to her daughter’s condo.
“I already had a gut feeling that something bad had happened,” Cheryl Berreth said.
She testified that when she arrived at Kelsey Berreth’s home, both of her cars were there, but there were no signs of the keys. The inside was undisturbed. That first night in Kelsey Berreth’s condo, Cheryl Berreth said she and her son couldn’t sleep so they made a list of everything that seemed odd. That list was ultimately a page and a half long.
The ingredients for bread dip sat undisturbed in the kitchen. There was a pan of cold cinnamon rolls sitting on the stove, and what appeared to be wipe marks on the TV. All of Kelsey Berreth’s makeup and luggage was still in the house.
There was no trace of Kelsey Berreth, and she would be presumed dead a few weeks later.
If he is convicted of her murder, Frazee will be sentenced to life in prison. The couple’s young daughter is currently in the custody of Cheryl Berreth pending what happens during the trial.
Both the prosecution and defense presented opening statements before Cheryl Berreth’s testimony. The prosecution argued that Frazee is a cold manipulator who made the people around him think Kelsey Berreth was an abusive mother, and who tried to persuade his mistress to kill her before doing it himself.
Frazee’s mistress Krystal Lee — who 9NEWS who has previously referred to as Krystal Lee Kenney — has pleaded guilty with tampering with evidence for destroying Kelsey Berreth’s cellphone. She told police she helped Frazee clean up the crime scene after the murder, and watched him burn his fiancee’s body.
Prosecutors claimed that Frazee spoke to Lee on the phone dozens of times after Berreth’s phone was destroyed, but never once tried to call his fiancee and see if she was ok.
The defense based its opening argument around the lack of physical evidence in the case and made an analogy about buying a house, claiming that while the prosecution’s case seemed good at face value, the foundation was weak and unsupported.
In addition, the attorneys alleged that Lee was known for lying to police and should not be taken as a credible witness since she did not cooperate with the investigation until she knew she would receive a plea deal.
Cheryl Berreth’s testimony will resume on Monday morning at the Teller County Courthouse in Cripple Creek.
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