"We did a deal with the devil. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about that. And I'm not proud of that. But there's no question that Kelsey wouldn't have had the sure justice today without making that deal with the devil."
-District Attorney Dan May said of the plea bargain.
It was the 22nd of November 2018. Thanksgiving. Twenty nine year old Kelsey Berreth was spending Thanksgiving with Patrick Frazee. They were engaged but did not live together and that day, Patrick went to Kelsey's condo in Woodland Park, Colorado, United States to spend some time with her and their daughter Kaylee.
Kelsey and Patrick began dating in 2016 when they met online. Kelsey was madly in love with Patrick and left her home in Washington to move to Colorado to be with him. He was a cattle rancher and he stayed living at the ranch with his mother when Kelsey moved to Colorado. He helped to find a condo for Kelsey. Patrick would stay at the condo most weekends. When Kelsey moved to Colorado, things were not always easy for her. She had no job and she was living in a new home alone and didn't have friends or family in the area. Things improved when she got a new job that she loved in aviation and in October 2017, she gave birth to her first child, a baby girl.
Patrick and Kelsey
Kelsey adored Kaylee and even though things were better for her in Colorado, they were still not ideal. It was difficult living alone and looking after a new baby and having to travel to Pueblo for work. She felt exhausted and wanted something more. She knew she needed to make a few changes in her life and hoped to buy a ranch in the area and live there with Kaylee and Patrick.
That day, Thanksgiving Day 2018, Kelsey spoke with her mother Cheryl on the phone. Cheryl said there was nothing unusual about the call and Kelsey did not mention that she was having any problems that day. It seemed like a normal day. She told Cheryl she made cinnamon rolls. Patrick was feeling unwell so Kelsey told Cheryl she would pick up some food for him.
Kelsey and Cheryl
Cheryl didn't hear from Kelsey again after that. When Kelsey did not call her by the 2nd of December, Cheryl was worried. They would normally talk often, sometimes even every day. When Cheryl tried to call Kelsey, the call went straight to voicemail. Cheryl reached out to Patrick. Patrick told her that things had ended between them after Thanksgiving as Kelsey wanted some space and he believed she left Colorado. That made no sense to Cheryl especially as Kaylee was still in Colorado. Cheryl was instantly worried and called the police to report her daughter missing.
The police went to Kelsey's condo but nothing seemed out of place. So, the next day, Cheryl flew to Colorado to try to find out what had happened to her daughter. Her daughter's items were still in the condo except for her purse, keys and phone. There were cinnamon rolls on the stove. Cheryl believed they had been there since Thanksgiving Day. Cheryl believed that Kelsey did not just decide to leave of her own accord.
Police looked through various surveillance footage tapes and saw Kelsey and Kaylee on one from a grocery store security camera on Thanksgiving Day 2018. She was also seen outside her home that same day with Kaylee and Patrick. Police believed, after speaking with people who knew Kelsey, that is was uncharacteristic for Kelsey to just leave. She had never left her daughter before either.
Police began to look at people who were close to Kelsey. They discovered that Patrick was not just in a relationship with Kelsey. He was having an affair with a nurse from Idaho called Krystal Lee. That affair would ultimately lead to his downfall.
The police began to build a case against Patrick. They believed that he was involved in Kelsey's disappearance but there was nothing physical that directly linked him to the crime. Everything they had against Patrick was circumstantial. That changed when Krystal was faced with charges of her own. She agreed to a plea deal. Krystal was prepared to testify against Patrick to save herself. This was no longer a missing person case. It was a homicide investigation.
Krystal told police her version of events. Patrick and Krystal dated for a period of time before Patrick met Kelsey but their relationship started up again. Krystal told police that Patrick made it sound like Kelsey was a terrible person and he wanted her out of his life. Patrick told Krystal that he was unhappy with Kelsey as she was a "bad mother". He claimed that she was an alcoholic and abused their daughter.
Patrick asked Krystal multiple times to help "take care" of the situation. Krystal confirmed that Patrick asked her on three separate occasions to kill Kelsey and she drove from Idaho to Colorado to carry out his wishes but each time she could not go through with it. She knew that he wanted Kelsey dead and it was just a matter of time before Kelsey would be murdered.
On Thanksgiving Day, Krystal claimed she received a call from Patrick. He told her that he needed her to go to Kelsey's condo to clean up. It was a twelve hour trip for Krystal but she went as soon as Patrick asked her to. Krystal claimed she saw blood covering the living room floor, blood was splattered on the walls, on the carpet in other rooms and behind a couch in the condo. It took her four hours to clean the condo and anything that could not be cleaned, she threw into garbage bags. She filled a total of six garbage bags.
Krystal claimed that Patrick told her what happened to Kelsey. She knew that he wanted her dead for some time. She said that Patrick told her that on Thanksgiving Day, he blindfolded Kelsey with a sweater and asked her to smell various candles to guess the scent. As she was doing that, he struck her in the head with a baseball bat. As he beat Kelsey to death, their one year old daughter was in the next room playing. He hit Kelsey over the head around ten to fifteen times with the baseball bat.
Krystal went with Patrick to Patrick's ranch and Patrick set Kelsey's body on fire along with the garbage bags. Krystal took Kelsey's phone to Idaho and burned it there.
Patrick maintained that he did not kill Kelsey. But the Jury did not believe him. It took them less than four hours to find him guilty of murder. He was sentenced to life with an additional 156 years in prison.
Krystal received a sentence of just three years. That was part of the plea deal. Krystal's actions or rather lack of action in this case is truly chilling. She knew for some time that Patrick wanted Kelsey dead. She knew Kelsey was the mother of a baby girl. Yet for some unknown reason, she made a decision to keep those details secret. She could have saved Kelsey's life if she had spoken out about it. She spoke out after the murder but that was only for the benefit of herself so that she could avoid a longer sentence. As frustrating as some plea deals are, sometimes they are required for some form of justice to be done. Without Krystal's testimony, the case against Patrick would have been very weak and there would have been a question mark as to whether the Jury would have found him guilty or not. But in reality, there should be two people serving life sentences, not just one.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
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