Wrongful death lawsuit against Patrick Frazee reveals possible motive

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - What started as a missing person case centered around a Woodland Park mom has turned into a national story focused on the suspected murder of Kelsey Berreth.

Left to right: undated photo of Kelsey Berreth with her daughter, Patrick Frazee on 12/21/18 after his arrest.

THE SEARCH FOR KELSEY BERRETH
Berreth's fiance, Patrick Frazee, is accused of killing her. Berreth's body has yet to be found.

Authorities in Colorado and Idaho are working together to solve the case. Few details on why Frazee was arrested have been released to the public.

POSSIBLE MOTIVE STATED IN WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT (UPDATED 2/15/19)
On Friday new documents were released publicly on a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Berreth. ABC News was the first to bring the amended documents to light.

Click here to read the amended complaint. Part of the complaint reads, "Upon information and belief, Frazee had motive to kill Kelsey in that he wanted full custody of KB and/or Kelsey to leave KB with him and Kelsey would not agree; Upon information and belief, Frazee had an opportunity to kill Kelsey or have Kelsey killed in that he had her keys and, because he had her gun, she was vulnerable to an attack."

The family believes a custody battle of the daughter of Frazee and Berreth was a possible motive. Berreth's family also claims Frazee told them he and Kelsey had broken up on Thanksgiving Day. On page five of the document the family of Berreth provides a list of alleged statements from Frazee they believe were lies. He allegedly told the family he had communicated with her on Nov. 25, days after she was last seen in public on surveillance footage. The family also claims Frazee told them he had "returned to Kelsey her keys and her gun that were in his possession."

The amended complaint adds the recent testimony by Krystal Kenney or Krystal Lee. Kenney testified under oath on Feb. 8 that Frazee admitted to Kenney that he had murdered Kelsey on or about Nov. 22.

Berreth's fiance, Patrick Frazee, is charged with murder and solicitation of murder in the 29-year-old woman's death.

In a statement in court, Kenney said she learned that Frazee had killed someone.

Kenney says she moved "the victim's cellphone" in the days after Thanksgiving to keep it from law enforcement.

Police have not found Berreth's body but have said evidence suggests she was killed at her home.

Authorities have not disclosed the nature of the relationship between Kenney and Frazee.

THE LATEST ON KELSEY AND PATRICK'S DAUGHTER (2/7/19)

Berreth's 1-year-old daughter with Frazee will remain with her maternal grandparents, a judge decided in a custody hearing Thursday.

Berreth's parents and Frazee's mother had been fighting over custody of the little girl. The child had already been staying with Berreth's family since her father's arrest.

Frazee attended the hearing in his green-striped jail uniform. For the first time, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, which the Teller County Sheriff's Office said will be the norm from here on out.

“It protects against any kind of gunshots and most stabbing attacks, and it looks a little different than what police officers wear," said Cmdr. Greg Couch with the Teller County Sheriff's Office. "It’s a different design but the same type of material that’s in a regular police bulletproof vest.”

Couch said Frazee's vest -- and the noticeably higher security in the courthouse -- was because of how high-profile the case had become.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to take the extra security measures. ... Our job is to protect everybody involved, including the defendant."



Frazee could be seen leaving the courthouse in a bulletproof vest:

FRAZEE FRIEND FACING CHARGES
Krystal Lee, an Idaho woman linked to Patrick Frazee, will be in court Friday in Teller County.

Lee's name first popped up in December as possibly being connected with the Kelsey Berreth disappearance. (Scroll down page to "IDAHO COUPLE COMES FORWARD" for more information) A spokesperson for the 4th Judicial District confirmed to 11 News that Lee is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Friday, but would not elaborate further, stating that the case was sealed.

Lee is not currently in custody; Couch said she is coming to Colorado on her own terms.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney posted to social media Lee was facing one count of tampering with physical evidence. In a complaint made public Tuesday, it stated the 32-year-old was accused of tampering with evidence between Nov. 24 and Nov. 25.

Berreth was last seen alive on Nov. 22.

CIVIL CASE AGAINST FRAZEE?
As the criminal case against Frazee pushes forward, he is also waiting to find out if a civil case brought forth by the family of Berreth will be dropped.

An attorney for Frazee in the civil case confirmed with 11 News Frazee's legal team filed a motion on Monday to have a federal wrongful death lawsuit dropped. Click here to read the document filed Monday.

The parents of Berreth filed the civil lawsuit highlighting multiple reasons for the action citing economic loss and damages, grief, emotional distress and suffering, and loss of quality of life. Click here to read the document filed Jan. 4 by Berreth's family.

Attorneys for Frazee claim Berreth's parents do not have the legal standing to sue him.

A judge is expected to make a decision on whether or not to dismiss the lawsuit sometime before March 11. ABC News was the first report the motion filed by Frazee's legal team.

AUTHORITIES CONSIDER LANDFILL SEARCH
11 News confirmed with Waste Management Jan. 16 authorities were possibly turning their attention to a landfill in Fountain. Anne Spitza, communication specialist with Waste Management, provided the following statement to 11 News that night:
"The Colorado Bureau of Investigations contacted Waste Management of Colorado regarding a potential search at Midway Landfill and we are cooperating fully.”

As of late January, it wasn't clear if the landfill was ever actually searched.

11 News reached out to CBI for more information. CBI spokespeson Susan Medina said she had no new information to share publicly on the case.

IDAHO COUPLE COMES FORWARD:
A troubling conversation a month before Berreth's disappearance ultimately led a Twin Falls, Idaho couple to the FBI.

Joe and Patty Rockstahl told our sister station KMVT an employees showed up for work one day in October visibly upset. She told to the Rockstahls that a man had asked her best friend to kill the mother of his child.

The couple, who own a law firm, asked their employee to bring her friend -- since identified as Krystal Lee -- to them. She never did.

Patty Rockstahl said she connected the dots a month and a half later after watching Berreth's mother plead for help finding her daughter.

“I think the mother that had the courage and go on TV when her daughter was missing, saying that someone knew where she was at,” Patty told KMVT. “At that point in my mind I thought that Patrick -- and that was the only name I had heard him called, I didn't know his last name -- had done something to her daughter and he knew where she was at.”

On Dec. 17, Patty Rockstahl called the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

In a later interview with CBS News, Patty Rockstahl said her understanding was that Lee had been in love with Frazee since they were teens.

"She was in love with him from a very young age," Rockstahl told CBS News. "She was very vulnerable and I think she cared for him, and he took advantage of that… He was her first love, I understand, and … he had a hold on her."

Below is an excerpt from that interview:

The Rockstahls said they were told Lee, a nurse from Idaho and a mother, visited Frazee as recently as November – the month Berreth vanished. They claim their employee said Frazee threatened Lee, and she may have helped him dispose of evidence.

CBS News: "Do you know what the threats were?"

Patty Rockstahl: "Patrick told Krystal that little girls go missing off the playground all the time."

Joe Rockstahl: "Krystal was so scared, he was so angry that he said things that made Krystal think he had killed before. So of course, she's going to be terrified."

The Rockstahls said they were told Frazee asked Lee three times as early as October to help kill Berreth, the mother of his child, but Lee refused.

Asked what they heard was Frazee's motive, Patty said, "That he felt that Kelsey was going to harm the child, that she was crazy."

CBS News: "Is Krystal Lee a murderer?"

PR:"I don't believe so. I don't."

Three days after Thanksgiving -- the last day Berreth was seen alive -- her cell phone pinged in Gooding, Idaho, 35 miles outside the city of Twin Falls where Lee is a nurse. A source close to the investigation said in early January that an Idaho woman was suspected of disposing that phone. Our sister station in Twin Falls is reporting that woman is Lee.

Several texts were sent from Berreth's phone after her disappearance, including one to her employee saying she'd be away for a week and another to Frazee, Patty Rockstahl said she thinks Lee sent the texts.

"She had the phone," Rockstahl told CBS News. "She was probably instructed to send those texts by Patrick but that's – there's nobody else that could've sent those texts to my knowledge."

Rockstahl said she believes Lee got tangled up in the case because she was in love with Frazee and in over her head.

THE TIMELINE
- Nov. 22, 2018: Kelsey Berreth was last seen in public on surveillance footage at a Woodland Park grocery store.

- Nov. 25, 2018: Berreth's cell phone pinged in Gooding, Idaho. Police released this information to the public on Dec. 7.

- Dec. 14, 2018: Police execute a search warrant at Frazee's home.

- Dec. 15, 2018: Authorities offer a $25,000 reward for information on the case.

- Dec. 21, 2018: Frazee arrested

- Dec. 22, 2018: Authorities in Idaho announced they discovered possible evidence in the case

- Dec. 27, 2018: A judge ruled the 1-year-old child Berreth and Frazee share would remain in physical custody of Berreth's parents.

-Feb. 4, 2019: A summons is issued for Krystal Lee to appear in Teller County court.

THE CHARGES FRAZEE IS FACING
Information from the court documents obtained by 11 News:

COUNT 1 - MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE
On or about November 22, 2018, PATRICK FRAZEE unlawfully, feleniously, after deliberation, and with the intent to cause the death of a person other than himself, caused the death of Kelsey Berreth.

COUNT 2 - SOLICITATION TO COMMIT MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE
Between and including September 1, 2018 and November 1, 2018, PATRICK FRAZEE unlawfully and feloniously commanded, induced, entered, or otherwise attempted to persuade another person to commit the felony of murder in the first degree, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of that crime and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent.

COUNT 3-MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE
On or about November 22, 2018, PATRICK FRAZEE unlawfully and feloniously, acting alone or with one or more persons, committed or attempted to commit Robbery and, in the course of or in furtherance of that crime, or in the immediate flight therefrom, the death of Kelsey Berreth, a person, other than one of the participants, was cause by anyone.

COUNT 4-SOLICITATION TO COMMIT MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE
Between and including September 1, 2018 and November 1, 2018, PATRICK FRAZEE unlawfully and feloniously commanded, induced, entered, or otherwise attempted to persuade another person to commit the felony of murder in the first degree, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of that crime and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent.

COUNT 5-SOLICITATION TO COMMIT MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE
Between and including September 1, 2018 and November 1, 2018 PATRICK FRAZEE unlawfully and feloniously commanded, induced, entreated, or otherwise attempted to persuade another person to commit the felony of murder in the first degree, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of that crime and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent.

The charges listed on the court papers also say Frazee, possibly along with at least one other person, allegedly tried to rob Berreth and she was killed afterward.

KELSEY AND PATRICK'S DAUGHTER
The one-year-old girl is in the physical custody of Berreth's parents. The child is in the legal custody of Teller County Human Services. A family member of Frazee is fighting for custody of the girl. Berreth's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Frazee. Click here to read the documents.

WHAT IS NEXT
A preliminary hearing for Frazee in the criminal case is scheduled for Feb. 19. It was pushed back after Frazee's attorneys requested to see the documentation stating why he was arrested. The judge granted that request.

WHO DO YOU CALL IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION ON THIS CASE
Contact Woodland Park Police at 719-687-9262.