"I loved her to death."
It was the 22nd of February 2014. A Saturday. Gerald Gardener entered the Garden Eagle mansion in a gated neighborhood in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. Gerald did not live there, he was the maintenance man and he frequently carried out a number of jobs inside and outside the property and looked after the general maintenance for the owners, Samira and Adam Frasch. Samira and Adam lived there with their two young daughters, two year old Hyrah and ten month old Skynaah. That morning, Gerald arrived at the house just before 11am. He was with his fourteen year old son.
When Gerald walked around the back, to the pool area, he was surprised to see Bella, the Frasch's little white Bichon Frise, running around the enclosure beside the screened pool area. She was normally in the adjoining bathroom when Gerald arrived but he observed that the door of the bathroom was ajar.
Samira and Adam Frasch
When Gerald looked around the area, he saw black sandals in the pool. One of the sandals was caught under a hose on the first step and the other one was in the shallow end of the pool. When Gerald moved closer to the pool, he saw Samira. She was lying on her back submerged at the bottom of the deep end of the pool. Samira wasn't moving and she was naked. There was an open leopard print robe tied around her waist.
Gerald did not remove Samira from the pool. Instead he called 911 and said:
"She's dead. She's completely gone."
That call was placed at 11.02 am and police arrived a few minutes later. When they got there, Gerald told them:
"He killed her, he did it."
Samira was removed from the pool and first responders administered CPR for 45 minutes but to no avail. Samira was dead. Police had to establish whether Samira's death was the result of an accident or a homicide. Did she trip over the hose and fall in, hit her head and drown?
The Autopsy revealed that Samira died as a result of drowning and blunt force trauma to the head. There was a large bruise on the right side of her forehead and Samira had a skull fracture. Her death was ruled a homicide. An exact time of death could not be determined but a firefighter who pulled Samira from the water said that her fingertips did not look like they had been submerged for long.
Police questioned Gerald. He was the person who found Samira and it was reported that he didn't remove Samira from the pool as he didn't want to get his DNA on her. But police cleared him quickly. They determined Gerald was not involved in Samira's death. If not, then who was?
Police spoke to Samira's husband Adam. They located him in Panama City. He was there with his two daughters. Adam was a podiatrist and had a love of fast cars, gambling and women. He made a lot of money and spent it. Samira lived a lavish lifestyle too.The couple were extravagant and flamboyant and were passionate. They drove the best cars and had multiple homes. Samira was Adam's third wife and he met her when he was in the process of separating from his second wife. Adam met Samira when he visited Paris, France during Paris Fashion Week in the Summer of 2006. She was from Madagascar and lived and worked as a model in Paris.
Adam and his second wife divorced. It was a bitter breakup and during that time, Adam and Samira were in a long distance relationship. When the divorce was final, Samira and Adam married in Las Vegas in 2009. They had a more formal ceremony six months later in Madagascar. She moved to Florida to live with Adam in 2010. Things did not start well for the couple. Samira discovered that Adam had fathered a child with another woman before she moved to Tallahassee in Florida. Samira threatened to divorce Adam when she found out about the child but they decided to try to make their marriage work and had two daughters. Despite that, there were still numerous problems in the relationship.
Samira spent all of her time with the two girls. She wanted them to be successful and to become celebrities. She hoped to start a clothing line for one of the girls and bought them expensive clothes and strollers. For one of their birthdays, she threw a lavish party, bigger than some Weddings, even though the child was just one years old.
The Pool at the Frasch's home where Samira Frasch was found
Police discovered that Adam and Samira had some serious and vicious fights. In August 2013, in particular, they had a number of arguments and on one occasion, Adam claimed Samira attacked him. He said that she hit him in the head with a statue and tried to run him off the road. Samira was arrested. The charges were later dropped. Adam described Samira as being a violent alcoholic.
One month later, Samira filed for divorce. She believed that Adam was dating a number of other women. In December of that same year, Samira was granted sole temporary custody of the two girls. She remained in their Golden Eagle home with the girls. Samira told her friends, neighbors and her assistant that she was afraid and Adam had threatened to kill her. But Adam also told his friends that he had been threatened by Samira too. It was clear to police that prior to Samira's death, there had been trouble in the relationship.
Yet, when police spoke to Adam, he told them that he knew Samira was dead, a friend called him just before the police arrived, but he had no idea what had happened to her. The friend who called Adam said that Adam broke down when he told him that Samira was dead and he heard one of the girls ask:
"Why are you crying, Daddy?"
Police noticed that he had a scratch under his eye and he said he got it from one of the children. Adam told police that they had separated but as of late, had been trying to work things out and he was with her the night of the 21st of February, the night before her body was found.
Adam asked police if it was possible that Samira may have tripped over the hose beside the pool that was left out and said that he hoped she didn't fall over it. She may have been chasing Bella and if she tripped and fell into the pool, that would have caused Samira great distress as she couldn't swim. Adam said that they spent the day before together. They took their dog Bella to a groomers to be groomed and then dropped off Samira's car as the oil needed to be changed. Later on in the day, they went for lunch at Jonah's in Thomasville with the two girls. The atmosphere changed when they got back home though. Adam said that Samira was angry that she couldn't find a purse so he drove her to some of the other houses he owned to look for it.
They picked up her car later that night and returned to the Golden Eagle house. It was around 11pm when they got back. According to Adam, he didn't plan on spending the night there. He put the two girls to bed and Samira drank two bottles of champagne. He said that Samira asked him to take the girls the next day as she needed a break and he told her he was happy to spend the day with them.
Adam told police that he and Samira had sex in the living room that night. It was 2am when he went to bed but Samira woke him at 4am. She was angry about a relationship he was having with another woman and was looking through his phone. He admitted that they fought.
When Adam woke a few hours later, Samira was still asleep. He removed some leaves from the pool, fed Bella and left with the girls.
Police discovered that Adam spoke to a number of people after he left the house that morning. On his way to Panama City, he told some of his friends that he and Samira fought over a video of him and an ex girlfriend having sex. According to Adam, the ex girlfriend sold the recording to Samira.
He also spoke to Martha Moore. Martha is the mother of the child he had shortly after he married Samira. He told her he was taking the two girls, the girls he had with Samira, to South Beach in Miami. He told her that Samira needed a day off and had drank a lot the night before. Martha told police that Adam was calm on the call, which was in and of itself very strange, given his larger than life personality. It was so strange that she told her mother that he must be having a really good day.
But Adam's story about the night before Samira's body was found never made sense to police. He claimed that she drank a lot, two bottles of champagne, and was asleep when he left. Toxicology reports, however, revealed that Samira had no alcohol in her system. If he lied about that, did he lie about other aspects of the night before?
Police didn't have enough to arrest Adam in connection with Samira's death. But they arrested him for interfering with the custody of his children. Even though he was their father, the Court had ordered that Samira was to have temporary sole custody and as such, he was not legally allowed to take the children anywhere. He was released on bond and was not allowed to have weapons, see the children or contact Samira's attorney. Police did not want to release him and wanted to charge him with second degree murder so that he would not be free but the Judge said that there was not enough evidence.
When he was released he wrote an open letter to the "people of Tallahassee." In the letter, he spoke of his wife's death and his annoyance that the police were too focused on just one person in connection with Samira's death. He said:
"I did not murder the mother of my two babies."
He was sent back to jail when guns were found in his medical office in violation of the terms of his release. Police had searched his office on foot of a separate investigation for Medicare fraud.
While Adam was in prison, police began building a case against him and charged with first degree murder in relation to Samira's death.
It was the Prosecution's case that Adam had the means, motive and opportunity to kill Samira. The Jury heard about his lavish lifestyle, his wealth and his love of exotic dancers and they heard about a possible motive from the Prosecution. Adam and Samira were going through a difficult and bitter divorce and custody battle. Samira had recently been granted sole temporary custody of the children and was granted permission to remain in the family home. It appeared that Samira may have been about to get sole possession of the marital house, alimony and child support payments and as such the Prosecution argued that Adam had a motive to want her dead.
In terms of opportunity, the Jury heard about the hours leading up to Samira’s death. The Court heard that there was no dispute that the night before Samira was found dead, they argued. Adam admitted that they argued. He said that they spent most of the night arguing. The Court heard that the day before Samira’s body was found, she went to multiple houses owned by Adam. She believed that some of her items were missing, including her purse, and wanted to find out if one of Adam’s girlfriends had taken them. It was the Prosecution's case that they returned to the house at 11pm that night and at that point, Samira was still alive. The Jury saw video from the subdivision entry gate then showed Adam’s car following Samira’s car into the neighborhood at around 11pm.
The next morning, the 22nd of February, a neighbor heard a car alarm go off at the Frasch home and saw someone in a red shirt loading up the back of a dark SUV. That was the type of car that Adam drove. The subdivision gate video then showed Adam’s car leaving just before 8am.
Gerald arrived at the property nearly three hours later, just before 11am.
The Court heard about Samira’s injuries. She had significant blunt trauma injuries to her head and a skull fracture. The Medical Examiner testified that it was their belief that the injuries were not caused by a trip and fall or from a single blow with a fist. The Medical Examiner believed that Samira was alive when she entered the pool but was likely incapacitated due to her head injuries.
It was the Prosecution’s case that Adam caused Samira’s injuries. He spent the few months before her death training as a boxer. His DNA was found under Samira’s fingernails and the Jury heard that when police spoke to Adam the same day that Samira’s body was found, he had a fresh scratch on his face and injuries to his hands.
The Prosecution told the Court that Adam had lied about the night before. He told police that Samira was drinking heavily but toxicology results showed that that was not correct.
The Prosecution called Adam’s cell mate, Dave Folsom, to testify. He testified that Adam told him that Samira confronted him about some of the other women he had been seeing when they got home that night. They fought and it turned physical and according to Dave, Adam told him that he hit Samira with a golf club.
Dave testified that Adam told him that he threw Samira in the pool in an attempt to remove his DNA from her body even though she wasn’t dead.
Samira’s DNA was found on a golf club at the home.
The Prosecution called Samira’s assistant to testify and they testified that they heard a conversation Samira had on the phone. She put the call on speakerphone and the assistant testified they heard Samira say “You are my husband” to the person on the other end of the call and that person responded with “I will kill you.”
The Court heard that a witness told police that Adam asked him to get rid of all the golf clubs from the garage at the Golden Eagle home. He asked the man to toss them in a lake or river:
"Just make them disappear."
Samira's sandal under the hose in the pool
It was the Defense's case that Adam did not kill Samira. They argued that someone else, possibly the maintenance man, killed her. They also said that it was possible someone else entirely killed Samira as the doors of the house were unlocked and anybody could have accessed the house.
The Jury heard about DNA evidence that had been found. Tests were carried out on DNA that was obtained from Samira's leopard print robe but it did not match multiple people who were tested, including the maintenance man and Adam.
The Defense tried to discredit the testimony of the cell mate Dave and Adam denied speaking to him about Samira’s death. They argued that the testimony could not be trusted as Dave testified at other Trials before as a jailhouse snitch and on this occasion, he received a break on his sentence for his cooperation.
It was their case that Adam did not beat Samira and certainly did not use a golf club. The Medical Examiner testified that she was not certain a golf club was used as the head of the club would be so hard that if used, it should have split Samira’s skin and would cause bleeding, which did not happen in Samira’s case. She believed a fist most likely caused the injuries but not just a single blow, multiple blows would have been required to cause the extent of the injuries found on Samira. The Defense asked the Medical Examiner:
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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."
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