Produced by Marcelena Spencer and Michael McHugh
Patrick Frazee sits in a Colorado jail awaiting trial for the murder of his fiancé Kelsey Berreth, who vanished on Thanksgiving Day 2018. As his day in court nears later this month, Frazee is pointing a finger at his once-secret girlfriend, Krystal Lee, a former rodeo queen and nurse, who told authorities she knows how Berreth was killed and why.
At the heart of the investigation is Lee, who told investigators Frazee asked her to kill his fiancé with three different plots – though she couldn’t go through with it. One of those attempts, Lee told investigators, was a scheme to get Berreth to drink a poisoned caramel macchiato from Starbucks. Prosecutors maintain Frazee ultimately murdered Berreth himself. According to Lee, Frazee told her he killed Berreth with a baseball bat. Berreth’s body has never been found.
“All the clues in the case that investigators are getting are from one person,” Ashley Franco, a reporter for KKTV-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado tells CBS News correspondent . “She’s the bread and butter to this case. She’s the only person in the world that they have to possibly convict Patrick Frazee.”
Who is Krystal Lee?
A MOM DISAPPEARS
The images are haunting. A mother in the grocery store shopping with her baby. Thanksgiving Day, 2018 — the last time Kelsey Berreth was seen in public.
CHERYL BERRETH [to reporters]: She’s not the kind that runs off. This is completely out of character. Kelsey loves her God, she loves her family and friends and she loves her job.
It was Cheryl Berreth who reported her 29-year-old daughter missing after trying to reach her for days.
CHERYL BERRETH [to reporters]: Kelsey we just want you home. Call us if you can. We won’t quit looking [emotional].
At that time – in early December – Woodland Park Police had not publicly named a suspect.
POLICE CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG [to reporters]: We are treating Kelsey’s disappearance as a missing person’s case at this time.
Her mother still had hope of finding Kelsey alive.
Cheryl Berreth: You can’t eat, and you can’t sleep … and the stress won’t end until we find her.
Nikki Battiste: Did any of you text her or try to call her?
Amanda Smith: I did. I told her that I hoped that she was OK and that I loved her.
Nikki Battiste: None of you received any responses?
Amanda Smith: No
Nicole Haywood: No.
Ashley Cogburn: It does feel a little bit incomplete without Kelsey, because usually it was us four all together all the time.
Ashley Cogburn, Amanda Smith and Nicole Haywood had an unbreakable bond with Kelsey. They grew up together in Moses Lake, Washington.
Nicole Haywood: From the pictures she’s gorgeous, obviously, and very put together and so you might think that she’s this prissy girl, but she was not. She was raised on a hay farm and very much a tomboy.
Nikki Battiste: A country girl?
Nicole Haywood: Yeah, she was out their driving tractors and bucking bales.
And she was flying planes. She was a flight instructor.
Nikki Battiste: Do you remember Kelsey talking about wanting to be a pilot?
Amanda Smith: Yeah … I actually got to go up with her one time and that was pretty amazing, I was terrified at first.
Nikki Battiste: Was she a good pilot?
Amanda Smith: Oh, yeah [laughs]. She was really good.
Nicole Haywood: She wasn’t afraid to challenge the typical boundaries.
So, it wasn’t a surprise when a Colorado cowboy named Patrick Frazee caught Kelsey’s eye on a dating website in 2016.
Nikki Battiste: Did Kelsey say what was it she liked about Patrick?
Ashley Cogburn: You know, he was, like, a country boy and that’s what she was used to. That’s what she liked.
They started a long-distance relationship. Patrick Frazee lived on a 35-acre ranch in rural Florrisant, Colorado, where he trained cattle dogs, shoed horses and groomed donkeys.
Clint Cline has known Frazee for seven years.
Clint Cline: Patrick is the farrier for the donkeys … people call ’em horseshoers and all that, but our donkeys don’t have shoes.
Nikki Battiste: So, he trims their feet?
Clint Cline: He trims their feet. He gives ’em, as we call it, donkey manicures.
Cline says Frazee was quiet and dedicated to his work.
Clint Cline: … He’s kind of laid back, you know, kind of stays to himself. He had his ranch to take care of.
Nikki Battiste: Had you ever met Kelsey?
Clint Cline: I did. I met her one day, she came out during one of the trimmings and spent the day.
Nikki Battiste: Were they affectionate at all?
Clint Cline: Well, this isn’t the most affectionate place in the world [laughs], so I’d say that day, no.
Eventually Kelsey moved to Colorado from Washington State to be closer to Frazee – and they were expecting a child. Her mother Cheryl says they were engaged.
Nikki Battiste: Did she have a dress yet?
Cheryl Berreth: No. I don’t think she cared about the big wedding kind of thing. It was between them and God.
Even after their daughter Kaylee was born in October 2017, the couple still didn’t live together but shared parenting duties.
Ashley Cogburn: He never came to see her, but she would, like on her days off, she would go back and be with him.
Friends say Kelsey was struggling to balance the baby, her job and a long commute. Her relationship with Frazee seemed strained.
Ashley Cogburn: … she seemed to be kind of stressed out from the whole thing that she couldn’t make him happy.
Nikki Battiste: Was Patrick?
Ashley Cogburn: It appeared that way from what I saw … And it seemed like it was just knocking her spirit down.
Nikki Battiste: Did Kelsey ever say he was physically abusive?
Ashley Cogburn: No.
Cogburn says Kelsey once mentioned there may have been another woman in Frazee’s life.
Ashley Cogburn: I think Kelsey had mentioned one time about an ex-girlfriend who still kinda wanted to be with Patrick … Kelsey wasn’t worried about it. I don’t know if it’s ’cause she knew she lived far away. Kelsey didn’t seem all that worried about it.
After Kelsey was reported missing – police talked to Frazee. He told them that the day before Thanksgiving, Kelsey said she wanted to end their relationship.
Ashley Franco | KKTV reporter: He said that Kelsey wanted to go their separate ways and things weren’t working out between them. They wanted tofifty/fifty and they were just not meshing anymore.
Patrick Frazee told police he and Kelsey met to exchange the baby on Thanksgiving Day. He also returned Kelsey’s belongings.
Ashley Franco: A purse, keys to the car, keys to the townhome and then a gun that Kelsey owned.
It was a gun Frazee says he had once taken from Kelsey for her own protection. Police say Frazee told them Kelsey struggled with depression hinting that she may be suicidal.
Nikki Battiste: When you hear that Patrick said Kelsey was unstable … that she was maybe suicidal.
Ashley Cogburn: No.
Amanda Smith: No, not at all.
Ashley Cogburn: It doesn’t match up with Kelsey.
Frazee told investigators Kelsey was in treatment for substance abuse.
Nicole Haywood: That is the extreme opposite of who Kelsey was.
Her friends say she did seek help, but for fatigue and stress.
Nicole Haywood: She did attend a program, but it was not, it was not a drug program. … it’s nutrition … it’s spiritual counseling. I want there to be no questions as to … the strength of her morals and her spiritual character.
Police searched Kelsey’s home but turned up no signs of foul play. Then Cheryl Berreth and her son went to the house to check it out.
Ashley Franco: They want to find Kelsey, they want to know what happened to her, so they’re staying in Kelsey’s townhome and things kind of get a little odd … there was a mat — like a rug of some sort in the bathroom. And it’s gone. … and she had also noticed that the refrigerator looked like it had been wiped down recently, you could see streaks. Later, her son … is in the bathroom and notices blood on the base of the toilet.
Nikki Battiste: And the alarms go off in their minds?
Ashley Franco: Alarms go off.
Kelsey’s mother Cheryl alerted investigators who returned to the house. This time they used chemicals to detect the presence of blood.
Ashley Franco: They found trace amounts of blood everywhere in the bathroom.
Nikki Battiste: Do we know whose blood?
Ashley Franco: DNA results showed it was Kelsey’s.
The discovery of Kelsey’s blood inside her home was huge. Then, investigators found important evidence in Kelsey’s driveway near her car.
Ashley Franco: They come back … with the cadaver dogs, the K9 units, and … they found human decomposition.
Investigators believed Kelsey had been murdered, but they needed more evidence. A closer look at Kelsey and her fiancé’sThanksgiving weekend would lead them to her suspected killer.
CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG | WOODLAND PARK POLICE [to reporters]: Patrick Frazee was taken into custody this morning in Florrisant, Colorado, just after 7 o’clock this morning Mountain Standard Time.
Nearly a month after Kelsey Berreth vanished, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young made this grim announcement:
CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG [to reporters]: Today we arrested Patrick Frazee on charges of first-degree murder of Kelsey Berreth … As a reminder Patrick Frazee is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Despite the murder charge, Kelsey’s body had not been found.
CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG [to reporters]: As you can tell from the arrest, sadly, we do not believe Kelsey is still alive. … Kelsey’s daughter Kaylee is in protective custody and will be reunited with Kelsey’s family.
From the beginning, investigators had questions about Patrick Frazee’s story — starting with his initial claim that the day before Thanksgiving, Kelsey told him she wanted to break up and “go their separate ways.”
Yet, there she was shopping the next day for the family dinner.
Nikki Battiste: And the surveillance video here at Safeway becomes central to this case?
Ashley Franco | KKTV reporter: Right … the last day she’s seen publicly.
Ashley Franco: Grabs a cart, you see her grab a cart and put Kaylee in the cart and then go off, and that’s the last time publicly anyone has seen Kelsey Berreth.
Nikki Battiste: What does she buy here at Safeway?
Ashley Franco: She buys ingredients for a sweet potato casserole.
Investigators wondered, if Kelsey had broken up with Frazee why would she send him this text:
“I bought some sweet potatoes in case you wanted sweet potato casserole …”
Kelsey didn’t tell her mother she and Frazee were breaking up when she spoke with her Thanksgiving morning.
Nikki Battiste: Did she sound normal? Did she sound —
Cheryl Berreth: Definitely, she sounded happy and —
Nikki Battiste Normal mom-daughter talk.
Cheryl Berreth: Yeah, yeah.
Another big question investigators had was when Frazee said he last saw Kelsey.
CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG [to reporters]: Patrick told officers that he hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving, November 22nd when he exchanged their daughter Kaylee Berreth.
Frazee claims that exchange happened outside her home, but he’s never said when. Shortly after 1:15 p.m. he is seen on Walmart surveillance with a baby carrier.
Fifteen minutes later a neighbor’s security camera captures an image of Frazee and Kelsey with a baby carrier in front of Kelsey’s door. But then, according to authorities, around 3:30 p.m., that same security camera captures an image of “an individual that matches the physical description of Frazee at Berreth’s residence.”
Aya Gruber: We don’t know whether if he’s coming or going. He doesn’t have Kaylee and he’s not with Kelsey. And then that’s it.
University of Colorado law professor Aya Gruber has read the court filings in this case.
Aya Gruber: The critical question is what happened in between around 1:30, 1:45 … and 3:30 when they get that picture of him.
Police say this is likely when Frazee killed her:
CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG [to reporters]: … investigators have recovered a number of items that make us suspicious that the crime did occur at Kelsey’s residence.
Frazee told authorities he drove their daughter Kaylee to his ranch for Thanksgiving dinner. He said Kelsey wasn’t with them, but investigators discovered that her cell phone was.
Ashley Franco: They pulled cell phone records and found that on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, all of a sudden Kelsey’s phone and Patrick’s phone started traveling together … But Patrick and Kelsey were not together.
Investigators say Frazee took Kelsey’s cell phone after he killed her as part of a scheme to cover his tracks.and was sending texts between them including this one from Kelsey’s phone:
KELSEY BERRETH: I’m going running I’ll call you guys when I get home.
PATRICK FRAZEE: “Ok. Be safe”
Aya Gruber: The theory that the prosecution is going to put forward is that that was Patrick with her phone and he’s texting, pretending to be Kelsey.
Two days after Thanksgiving, authorities believe Patrick concocted this conversation:
PATRICK FRAZEE: Are you awake?
KELSEY BERRETH: Sorry I didn’t hear my phone. Going to jump in the shower. I’ll call you guys when I get out.
PATRICK FRAZEE: Ok.
Then, investigators believe, to keep up his ruse that Kelsey wanted the breakup, Frazee sent this message:
“If this is truly what you want, I’ll respect your wishes and give you space …”
On Sunday — three days after Thanksgiving – there was a bizarre development that would send this case in a very different direction. Phone records show while Frazee’s cell stayed near his ranch, Kelsey’s phone was on the move – heading west out of Colorado.
Ashley Franco: … there was a text from Kelsey’s phone to her supervisor at Doss Aviation saying … “I won’t be at work.” So, people had thought maybe they heard from Kelsey.
The next text from Kelsey’s phone read: “Do you even love me?” That text pinged off a cell phone tower 800 miles away.
CHIEF MILES DE YOUNG [to reporters]: Reports are correct that Kelsey’s phone gave a location near Gooding, Idaho, on November 25.
Ashley Franco: When that came out, I think everyone was — was just shocked.
Nikki Battiste: And where’s Kelsey?
Ashley Franco: And where’s Kelsey? No one knows where Kelsey is.
So how did her phone end up in Idaho? One woman may have the answer.
A DISTURBING CONVERSATION
It was startling news when investigators revealed that three days after Kelsey Berreth was last seen, her cell phone had pinged in Gooding, Idaho — 800 miles from her home.
KMVT ANCHOR: Tonight, we have new information about a 32-year-old Twin Falls woman that may have helped Patrick Frazee cover up the disappearance and alleged murder of his fiancée, Kelsey Berreth.
At the time of Kelsey’s disappearance, phone records show that Patrick Frazee was in touch with Krystal Kenney Lee — a nurse and avid horsewoman who grew up here.
Nikki Battiste [on horseback]: Is this Krystal’s world? Horses, open spaces?
Kade Atwood [on horesback]: This is Krystal’s world.
Kade Atwood is KMVT’s news director and a weekend cowboy.
Kade Atwood: This is what we do. … We, in the Magic Valley, we work hard to be able to do this on the weekends.
Kade Atwood: Krystal and her family are a big part of the rodeo community. A very prominent family.
Michelle Stein is Lee’s best friend. Stein spoke with Nikki Battiste on March 23.
Michelle Stein: You talk horses … and that’s — you’re speaking her love language, you know. … Horses are her life, she loved horses.
She was a cowgirl who liked to have fun. And in Idaho, where rodeo rules, Lee was royalty. In 2008, she was crowned queen of the Magic Valley Rodeo.
Laura Stutzman has known Lee since she was a teenager.
Laura Stutzman: Krystal was so kind with everybody that it was just so difficult to turn her down in any way.
Nikki Battiste: Krystal had a reputation of getting what she wanted?
Laura Stutzman: No, I wouldn’t say it was a reputation of getting what she wanted … Krystal worked so hard at everything she did to try to do everything completely correct.
Authorities believed that it was Krystal Lee who travelled to Idaho with Kelsey’s phone. But when the FBI made their initial call to Lee, she said she had “no idea” who Kelsey Berreth was. She also denied knowing Patrick Frazee. Then, she changed her story.
Ashley Franco: They asked her, “when was the last time you talked to him?” And she said, “I don’t know. I’d have to look at my phone.” And then says, “Oh, in the last month.” And investigators are thinking, OK, but we already know that your phone has called his phone multiple times in the last few weeks.
Ashley Franco: She says, “I don’t have a personal relationship with Patrick Frazee. I’ve gone to Colorado and looked at a few of his horses, and that’s the extent of our relationship.”
Nikki Battiste: She lies.
Ashley Franco: She lies.
Turns out Krystal Lee and Patrick Frazee had a long history. They met after high school. Then, eight months before Kelsey disappeared, Lee and Frazee’s relationship heated up. Lee was recently divorced with two children.
Ashley Franco: She had been out here multiple times to see him and … it was type … a type of affair.
Nikki Battiste: What did Krystal say about Patrick? Was she in love with him?
Michelle Stein: I think that she was to a point.
Nikki Battiste: Were they in a sexual relationship?
Michelle Stein: I don’t know … when she would go to Colorado, it wasn’t just to see Patrick. She has family in Colorado.
During the investigation, the FBI got a tip that Michelle Stein had explosive information about the case. She says Lee called and confided in her about a disturbing conversation she and Frazee had a month before Kelsey disappeared.
Michelle Stein: She was very, very upset, very distraught … she had told me … that he had asked her to “take care of his baby mama.”
Nikki Battiste: And you took that to mean?
Michelle Stein: And, so, I was like … Well I was in shock at first because … who says that? Nobody says that. … so, I was like. “Wait, what?” And she said, “Yeah … he asked me if I would kill the mother of his baby.”
Nikki Battiste: What are you thinking at that point?
Michelle Stein: I was just in shock and disbelief …
Nikki Battiste: What was Krystal’s tone when she was telling you this?
Michelle Stein: She was bawling. She was crying she was extremely upset and scared.
Stein says she asked Lee why Frazee wanted to kill Kelsey.
Nikki Battiste: What’d she say?
Michelle Stein: And she said that he had told her it was because she wanted to take him back to court to get custody of the baby … and he was in fear that she was going to harm the baby.
Investigators found no proof Kelsey had harmed her daughter but did find evidence that Frazee had planned to challenge Kelsey for custody and believe that may have been his motive for murder.
Nikki Battiste: Do you regret now not calling the police?
Michelle Stein: Well this is the thing people need to understand. What was I supposed to do?
Stein claims she didn’t know the full names of either Frazee or Berreth.
Michelle Stein: So, I was supposed to call somewhere in Colorado and say, hey there’s some guy in Colorado that wants to kill some girl. I don’t know their names and I don’t know where they live. But you know good luck finding them. I guess that’s what people think I should have done.
Stein says she pushed Lee to call the police.
Michelle Stein: This is the thing. … I kept telling her to call and tell somebody. See, you got to understand, I’m trusting her to do the right thing.
Nikki Battiste: But, I think, Michelle, people watching will say … “call the police.” Say, “you need to talk to my friend. Someone is asking her to kill someone.”
Michelle Stein: You’re right … Of course the viewers are going to think that.
Nikki Battiste: But do you have regret?
Michelle Stein: Of course, I regret it. I regret it every day. Oh, my God. I would do anything to have stopped that somehow.
Kelsey had been gone about a month before Stein talked to the FBI. And when the FBI went back at Lee a second time, she too was ready to talk.
Ashley Franco: I think at that point she kind of knows, “I have to come clean.”
But first, Lee wanted a deal. In exchange for her testimony against Frazee, she. She admitted to getting rid of the gun, to tossing Kelsey’s keys in a canyon and destroying her phone.
Aya Gruber: It’s a tampering with evidence charge, which is a minor charge compared to murder, or you know, accessory to murder or attempted murder.
Nikki Battiste: She only faces at max, three years in prison.
Aya Gruber: This is a pretty good deal that she gets.
What Lee revealed to investigators would become the center of the prosecution’s case against Patrick Frazee.
PLOTTING A MURDER
When Krystal Lee finally started talking, she didn’t stop for four-and-a-half hours. Her story was stunning: she claimed Patrick Frazee tried to get her to kill Kelsey Berreth three different times.
Nikki Battiste: And the first idea on how to kill Kelsey was what?
Ashley Franco: The first idea was to get a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks, Kelsey’s favorite drink and put poison in it.
Two months before Kelsey went missing, Lee says she drove 12 hours from Idaho to a Starbucks near Kelsey’s home in Colorado. Lee, a nurse, told investigators she suggested the perfect potion: a lethal dose of Ambien and Valium.
Aya Gruber | University of Colorado law professor: She says … “I’ll get the drugs. I’ll poison the coffee.”
Nikki Battiste: So, Krystal brings this Starbucks Caramel Macchiato right here [to Kelsey’s house].
Ashley Franco: Waits in the alleyway, walks up to Kelsey’s door, knocks on the door, and tells —
Nikki Battiste: Kelsey opens it?
Ashley Franco: Kelsey opens it, tells Kelsey this elaborate story. She says, “I’m new to the neighborhood, someone had told me that you had helped get my dogs out of trouble” … and Kelsey says, “no, I didn’t do that.”
Nikki Battiste: Does Kelsey take the coffee?
Ashley Franco: Allegedly, Kelsey takes the coffee inside and closes the door, and from there we don’t — we don’t know what Kelsey does with the coffee.
But Lee says she couldn’t do it. She didn’t poison the coffee and when Frazee found out he was angry.
Ashley Franco: He was furious. He was not happy … that she didn’t go through with it.
Michelle Stein | Krystal Lee’s best friend: He would play head games with her a lot … he just had a way of manipulating her into doing things.
After Lee said she couldn’t go through with the poison plan, she told investigators Frazee came up with a different idea.
Ashley Franco: He calls her back and says, OK, I’ll give you a second chance. You can come out here and I’ll give you a new way to — to kill her.
Nikki Battiste: What does he say?
Ashley Franco: He says I have a … metal pipe that I’ll leave outside my property that you can come pick up, and I want you to go wait for Kelsey at her townhome. And when she comes, hit her on the back of the head.
The way Krystal Lee tells it, she drove to Kelsey’s house with that metal pipe, but didn’t attack her and drove back to Idaho. A week later she says Frazee called with a new murder plan.
Once again, Lee drove from Idaho to Kelsey’s Colorado townhouse.
Lee claims she waited for Kelsey outside her home. This time, with an aluminum baseball bat. But just like her earlier attempts, she says she chickened out.
Aya Gruber: It’s just hard to believe these stories. They seem outlandish and wild.
Phone records show Frazee called Lee in Idaho around 4:30 on Thanksgiving Day. Krystal said he told her, “You need to get out here now, you got a mess to clean up.”
Ashley Franco: And at that point Krystal knows something has happened to Kelsey.
Nikki Battiste: What does Krystal do next?
Ashley Franco: Krystal says that she can’t come out that same day, but will come out a few days later … She’s in Idaho … loads up the car with cleaning supplies, bleach, hair nets, you know, gloves, trash bags …
Aya Gruber: … she was so convinced not only it was going to be a murder … but a bloody one that she basically brought the equivalent of a hazmat suit and every sort of … cleaning product that one might see in one of those TV shows about how to clean up a crime scene.
Two days later, on Saturday morning, Lee says she drove 800 miles to Frazee’s ranch to pick up a set of Kelsey’s keys he left for her outside. Then, she says, she drove to Kelsey’s home.
Ashley Franco: Krystal tells authorities she opens a door and the scene is horrific. There’s blood everywhere. There’s bloody footprints … every inch of the townhome is covered in blood.
According to Lee, Kelsey’s body was not inside.
Ashley Franco: … and then spends, you know, three to four hours cleaning and scrubbing the murder scene.
Nikki Battiste: And she throws away a few items that she says she can’t get clean.
Ashley Franco: Right, you know … there’s baby toys, there’s books … And she takes some of the things that she couldn’t clean and puts them into trash bags and loads them in the back of … the car she was driving.
Lee claims Frazee was back at his ranch during the cleanup.
Ashley Franco: There was a point in time when Patrick Frazee had told Krystal Lee, when you go to clean up her townhome, there is possibly a tooth somewhere.
Lee said she threw that tooth and a bloody sweater in a trash bag.
Aya Gruber: So, one of the things Krystal says is that after she does about three to four hours of cleaning … she goes and … gets a Sonic burger.
Nikki Battiste: Who goes to get a Sonic burger after cleaning up what she describes as a horrific bloody scene for three to four hours?
Aya Gruber: Yeah, that is … you know just something that feels really unbelievable.
Lee told investigators after the cleanup she met with Frazee. She described to them how he said he lured Kelsey to her death. Lee claims Frazee invited his fiancée to play a guessing game with candles.
Ashley Franco: She says that he takes a sweater from Kelsey’s room and blindfolds her with the sweater and has candles sitting out in front of Kelsey and is telling Kelsey to guess the scent of each candle.
During her interview with investigators, Lee said Frazee told her while baby Kaylee was in another room, he took a baseball bat and “he went to swinging.”
After killing Kelsey with that baseball bat on Thanksgiving Day, Lee says Frazee told her he put her body in a black tote. Then, two days later after the cleanup, Lee claims she met Frazee at his ranch and watched him burn that tote.
When Lee wrapped up her interview with investigators, she took them to Kelsey’s home and pointed out where she claims she intentionally left blood for them to find. Hours later, on December 21, 2018, Frazee was arrested at his ranch and
Aya Gruber: This is a case without a body. This is a case without a lot of physical evidence. So, what we mainly have connecting Patrick Frazee to an incredibly brutal and violent crime… is Krystal Lee’s testimony.
Lee, who had cut that deal with prosecutors, seemed shaken when she appeared in court after she turned herself in to authorities.
Nikki Battiste: Why do you think she did this?
Michelle Stein: I don’t know. I… You do not know the sleepless nights I have had trying to figure that out.
Laura Stutzman | Krystal Lee’s friend: The Krystal I knew could do no wrong … but the Krystal that has done the things that came out of her mouth is somebody I don’t know.
And that leaves Laura Stutzman with one question: Why?
Patrick Frazee has entered a plea of not guilty and if convicted he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Ashley Franco: I think every time I see him, it’s frustrating because he sits there, and he just stares. He doesn’t show emotion.
Two months after his arrest, authorities searched a landfill for Kelsey’s remains.
Ashley Franco: investigators searched the landfill for weeks and didn’t find a thing.
But investigators did find a potentially damning piece of evidence at Patrick’s ranch.
Ashley Franco: They are working to test a fragment of a tooth that is just so small. … They are working to test it for DNA to see who it belongs to. … And they have been treating this tiny piece of evidence like it is the biggest part of the case.
Still, there are unanswered questions. Initial forensic tests at Kelsey’s home revealed some of her blood was mixed with unknown female and male DNA.
Aya Gruber: The key is that male DNA did not belong to Patrick Frazee.
Nikki Battiste: Do we know whose female DNA that is yet?
Aya Gruber: We don’t yet.
Nikki Battiste: And to this day there is no body and there is no murder weapon. What’s that mean for the prosecution?
Aya Gruber: I think it makes it a much more difficult case … The cell phone evidence tells a story. And that’s very helpful. But it can’t tell a full story. … So, what this case lives and dies on is the testimony of Krystal Lee. … That is the connective thread for everything.
As for Lee, she’s not in jail; she’s home. She’ll be sentenced after Patrick Frazee’s trial, but if her story doesn’t hold up, that plea deal she got from prosecutors is off the table.
In the rodeo world, where Lee once reigned, folks live by the cowboy code: It’s about honor and trust. Lee broke all the rules.
Laura Stutzman: I think I can speak for a lot of our community here where the ones who knew and loved Krystal with all their heart feel rather betrayed … There’s no sentence imposed by a judge that can actually be more harsh than what her community will put on Krystal.
Those who know her best can’t fathom how it came to this.
Laura Stutzman: Why is the question that everybody has. Why? Krystal had it all. She had it all.
Investigators said that Lee told them she loved Frazee and wanted to please him, but there was something else. She was afraid that Frazee might harm her family.
Michelle Stein: She had a legitimate fear for her life here. … He did a lot of threatening. He threatened Krystal a lot. He threatened Krystal’s daughter.
Nikki Battiste: How?
Michelle Stein: I’m not exactly sure the specifics of how he threatened her, but he did say, “little girls come up missing all the time.”
Prosecutors are counting on Lee’s story to convict Frazee of murder. But his defense team has already pointed the finger right back at the former rodeo queen, suggesting Lee fabricated portions of her story, or may herself have been involved in Kelsey’s murder.
Nikki Battiste: Is Krystal believable?
Ashley Franco: It’s hard to say because we know she lied to investigators the first time they talked to her. … we don’t know if she’s being truthful.
Patrick Frazee’s friend Clint Cline is reluctant to speculate.
Clint Cline: His life’s been turned upside down. Guilty or innocent, it’s been turned upside down.
Nikki Battiste: What’s the big question on your mind?
Clint Cline: I think a lot of people are wonderin’ if they got the right person in jail.
Patrick Frazee remains under tight security while he awaits trial for Kelsey’s murder. Their 2-year-old daughter is being raised by Kelsey’s parents.
Friends say nothing can bring Kelsey back, but they will always be there for her daughter.
Ashley Cogburn: I think I would tell her, you know, if you ever feel yourself being driven or shy, a little feisty or playful just know that that’s your mother coming through.
Ashley Cogburn: … I can’t tell you how many times I see an airplane flying by … and wonder … if that’s Kelsey up there.
Ashley Cogburn: She had her wings down here and she was an earthly angel … and now she’ll have real angel wings, heavenly angel wings.
Patrick Frazee’s trial is scheduled to begin October 28