WOODLAND PARK • Patrick Frazee was arrested Friday on suspicion of murdering his fiancee, 29-year-old Kelsey Berreth, who was last seen on Thanksgiving Day.
Authorities have not located Berreth’s body, but they recovered “a number of items that are suspicious that could indicate that the murder occurred at her residence,” Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said during a news conference.
“Sadly, we do not believe that Kelsey is alive,” he said.
Law enforcement from a multiagency task force, which includes Woodland Park police, the FBI, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, arrested Frazee, 32, just after 7 a.m. Friday at his mother’s ranch near Florissant.
Frazee was booked into Teller County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and solicitation to commit murder in the first degree, said 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May.
The solicitation charge refers to enlisting another person “to commit another crime,” whether it’s burglary, robbery or murder, May said.
“(It’s a crime) if you’re soliciting someone to help out, and it isn’t just a discussion,” May said.
De Young said more arrests are “an absolute possibility.”
May said details about the solicitation charge will be released when Frazee is charged, which he expects will be in about 10 days.
The arrest affidavit is sealed and neither May nor De Young would say what the investigation uncovered that links Frazee to his fiancee’s disappearance.
The couple’s daughter, 1-year-old Kaylee, who had remained with Frazee during the nearly monthlong search for Berreth, has been placed in protective custody and “will be reunited with Kelsey’s family,” De Young said.
“I cannot stress enough, this is a difficult time for Kelsey’s family,” De Young said, adding that the family is not giving interviews.
Berreth’s mother, Cheryl Berreth, who lives in Idaho, reported her daughter missing Dec. 2.
Berreth was last seen alive on surveillance video Thanksgiving Day while shopping at the Woodland Park Safeway with her daughter.
Frazee told police Berreth, who worked as a flight instructor for a Pueblo aviation company, dropped the baby off with him at his house on Thanksgiving Day. Although engaged, the two did not live together.
Lon Rust, owner of Paradise Spirits, a liquor store next door to Safeway, said Berreth was a customer, coming in after work in her flight suit.
“We talked about her being a pilot,” he said. “She was just a real sweet girl, really friendly.”
When he saw news reports that she had disappeared, Rust said he was “shocked.”
When Rust heard about Berreth’s fiance being arrested, he said he thought, “What else could it be? She seemed like a fairly stable person.”
On Dec. 14, dozens of law enforcement officers descended on the 35-acre ranch where Frazee lives with his mother after obtaining a search warrant. They searched the property for two days with backhoes.
This week, FBI agents and other officers searched Berreth’s townhome.
Authorities have not revealed what they found at either location.
Frazee’s lawyer, Jeremy Loew, had issued statements saying his client was cooperating with investigators — voluntarily providing them with his cellphone and DNA samples.
But De Young said Frazee had declined requests to talk with investigators and Loew issued a statement protesting that officers hadn’t asked to search Frazee’s ranch. No request or notification is required when officers have a warrant.
Loew may no longer be representing Frazee.
According to court records, Frazee’s attorney is Deputy Public Defender Adam Steigerwald.
Jeff Kuykendall of Cripple Creek summed up the reactions of many in the mountain community of 8,000 in describing the developments as “horrible.”
“It’s an absolute shame,” he said, shaking his head. “You just wonder what the motivation is, being this time of year, and they had a kid. Good night.”
Berreth’s employer received a text from her cellphone on Nov. 25, three days after she was last seen, saying she wouldn’t be at work the following week. Frazee told police he also received a text from her the same day.
Berreth has relatives in Idaho and Washington state and a transmission tower in Gooding, Idaho, about 800 miles from Woodland Park, pinged her cellphone Nov. 25.
“Her phone did end up in Idaho,” he said. “We’re still working to recover that phone.”
De Young did not elaborate on how Berreth’s phone got to Idaho.
Berreth’s relatives have said she did not visit family members in Idaho or Washington state, and they were unaware of her having travel plans.