Days after a heated exchange between them, Patrick Frazee said he received a short text from his fiancee Kelsey Berreth’s phone: “Do you even love me?”
Frazee replied: “Why would I bend over backwards and stand behind you through everything if I didn’t? So to answer your question, yes I do.”
It was all a ruse, prosecutors say.
Those messages, investigators say, are further evidence of a cover-up in which Frazee and his mistress, Krystal Lee, tried to make it seem like Berreth, 29, was still alive three days after her murder.
Prosecutors allege Frazee stood behind Berreth in her Woodland Park townhouse as she had her eyes covered with a sweater and beat her to death on Thanksgiving Day last year, while their daughter was in a walker in a back storage room.
Then, prosecutors say, Frazee took Berreth’s phone and composed several texts, including the one supposedly by Berreth.
An investigator took the stand and read the messages pulled from Frazee’s phone Thursday as prosecutors moved closer to resting their case against him.
The testimony came as prosecutors sought to lay bare stark discrepancies between Frazee’s claims to authorities and loads of cellphone records that appear to place him at every step of the alleged cover-up.
The Florissant rancher, 33, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and related charges. Closing arguments could be heard Friday afternoon, after which the case goes immediately to the jury for deliberations.
One of the prosecution’s last witnesses painted Berreth as a woman who routinely sought Frazee’s love — only to be disappointed by replies from Frazee that were “few and far between.”
The couple met online in 2016, and she moved to Colorado shortly thereafter, an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office said.
After arriving and finding a place of her own, Berreth sent repeated Facebook messages to Frazee asking for his thoughts on properties for them to purchase — perhaps as a place to finally live as a family.
In one message, she demanded Frazee come clean if he did not want to establish a life together with her, the investigator said.
Frazee later told a social worker that his relationship with Berreth had frayed, and that the two had a “heated discussion” the night before her disappearance, said Mary Longmire, a Teller County Department of Human Services worker.
During an interview after his arrest, Frazee told Longmire that Berreth “lost it,” and they decided to go their separate ways. At the same time, they agreed to share custody of Kaylee, their daughter.
Frazee also said he last saw Berreth when he was picking up their daughter at 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Longmire said.
Jurors later heard hours of testimony that aimed to discredit that claim.
After Berreth’s Thanksgiving Day disappearance, the texts between her and Frazee revolved around when either would pick up their daughter and how Berreth’s Black Friday shopping went.
Importantly, prosecutors say: Heaps of cellphone evidence suggest Frazee and his mistress wrote all of them.
On Nov. 23, the day after Berreth was last seen, Frazee received a message from Berreth’s phone asking if he’d keep caring for their daughter overnight.
“Sure, I don’t mind, what’s going on? Are you OK? Do you need anything or can I do anything?” Frazee responded.
“No, I’m fine, just worn out,” went the reply from Berreth’s phone. “Talk to you guys tomorrow.”
The next day, a text by Frazee suggested that the two had another falling out, and that he was open to part ways with her.
“If this is truly what you want, I’ll respect your wishes and give you space. Let me know if you change your mind. I’ll leave you alone.”
Their final texts came on Nov. 25, when Berreth ostensibly questioned Frazee’s love for her.
Records show that Frazee sent the response about “bending over backwards,” but that Berreth’s phone never received it.
Cellphone tower records obtained by the FBI cast doubt on whether Berreth sent those messages, according to testimony Thursday.
In fact, the phones for Berreth and Frazee never appeared to leave each other during the two days after Berreth’s disappearance, said Kevin Hoyland, an FBI cellphone investigator.
More likely, witnesses said, was that Frazee took Berreth’s phone and sent the messages himself.
Krystal Lee, a key witness against Frazee, previously testified she also sent several of the messages from Berreth’s phone at Frazee’s request. Lee said she burned Berreth’s phone on her property after sending the messages.
Frazee’s defense team was largely silent on the phone calls and declined to even cross some of the witnesses about the calls.
The defense could get their first chance to call their own witnesses Friday.
Frazee’s public defenders focused most of their time Thursday on the day’s first witness, a DNA examiner who detailed findings from spots of blood discovered in Berreth’s condo.
Attorney Adam Steigerwald took aim at DNA results showing locations where investigators found nothing — including candles and a floor vent.
Steigerwald also emphasized there was no human blood, or even human DNA, found on the haystack in the red barn where Frazee is accused of stashing Berreth’s body before burning it.
Gazette reporter Lance Benzel contributed to this story.