DENVER (Reuters) – The fiancé of a 29-year-old Colorado woman who vanished nearly a month ago from a small mountain town was arrested on Friday on murder charges in her disappearance, though investigators have yet to locate the young mother’s body, police said.
Patrick Frazee, 32, is being held without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder and solicitation to commit murder stemming from the presumed slaying of Kelsey Berreth, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said at a news conference.
“While we have not found Kelsey at this time, information has been developed that has helped to narrow down our search,” De Young said. “Sadly, we do not believe Kelsey is still alive.”
Frazee made his initial court appearance via video linkup from the Teller County Jail on Friday afternoon to hear the charges facing him, but no plea was entered, a court spokesman said. His next hearing was set for Dec. 31.
The arrest warrant affidavit was sealed, and De Young declined to explain how Frazee became a suspect, other than investigators’ belief that the victim – mother of the couple’s 1-year-old daughter – was slain at her home.
A lawyer from the public defender’s office was appointed to represent Frazee, according to court documents. That office has a policy of never commenting on pending cases.
Frazee was arrested by police and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his ranch in Florissant, 13 miles (21 km) west of Woodland Park. The couple’s daughter, Kaylee, had been staying with Frazee, but is now in protective custody, De Young said.
Berreth was last seen in public on Nov. 22, when surveillance camera video caught her entering a grocery in Woodland Park, about 90 miles southwest of Denver.
Frazee told police he saw Berreth when he picked up Kaylee later that afternoon, De Young said last week.
Three days later, Berreth’s employer received a text message from her cell phone saying she would be absent from work for a week, police said, and that same day her cell phone signal was picked up by a tower near Gooding, Idaho, some 700 miles away.
Berreth’s mother, Cheryl, who lives in Idaho, reported her missing on Dec. 2.
Police searched Frazee’s ranch last weekend. If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler