by Tierney Bricker | Thu., Dec. 27, 2018 3:29 PM
A young mother's Thanksgiving Day disappearance seems to finally have been solved.
Kelsey Berreth was last seen in public on Nov. 22 shopping at a grocery store in Colorado, but wasn't reported missing until almost 10 days later on Dec. 2 by her mother. And since then, the details that emerged about her disappearance kept getting more shocking, especially regarding her relationship with her fiancé and the father of her young daughter, Patrick Frazee.
And on Dec. 21, almost one month after she was last seen, the police arrested Patrick, 32, charging him with Kelsey's murder.
"Today we arrested Patrick Frazee on charges of first degree murder of Kelsey Berreth," Woodland Park Police Department Chief Miles De Young said in a press conference. "He is currently being held in the Teller County Jail."
While their 1-year-old daughter had been in his care since Kelsey's disappearance, she is now in protective custody and was expected to be reunited with Kelsey's family soon, according to police. On Thursday, Dec. 27, a Colorado judge awarded temporary physical custody of the little girl to Kelsey's parents.
Today's emergency custody hearing also marked the first time Kelsey's mother, Cheryl Berreth, came face-to-face with her daughter's alleged murderer. Neither Cheryl or Patrick—who entered the courtroom shackled at his hands and feet—addressed each other directly, and both ignored questions from the media. Patrick's mother was also present.
At the time of last week's press conference, De Young said they have not determined a motive, but did reveal that investigators "recovered a number of items" during their search of Kesley's home to determine the murder likely took place there.
Teller County Sheriff's Office
Following the confirmation of Patrick's arrest, De Young also told reporters, "While we have not found Kelsey at this time, information has been developed that is helping to narrow down our search. As you can tell from the arrest, sadly, we do not believe that Kelsey is still alive."
While formal charges will be filed in the days ahead, Patrick was also detained on suspicion of solicitation to commit murder in the first degree. Police also said more arrests may be possible as their investigation continues.
Speculation about Patrick's potential involvement in connection to 29-year-old Kelsey's disappearance began soon after she was reported missing.
The last time Patrick told police he saw the pilot instructor was on Thanksgiving, when they met up that day to exchange custody of their child, with some questioning why the engaged couple would be exchanging custody. This made Patrick the last person that saw Kelsey alive, according to police.
In a news conference held on Dec. 14, De Young told reporters that there was "absolutely a possibility" that Kelsey could still be alive. "That is our hope." He did go on to call her disappearance "suspicious."
At the first news conference held earlier in the week, a member of Kelsey's immediate family was in attendance and stood on stage next to the police chief.
"Beside me is Kelsey's mother, Cheryl. Cheryl hasn't talked to Kelsey in 19 days," De Young said. "We've reached out to numerous family members and friends."
Cheryl, who was the person to report Kelsey missing on Dec. 2, then spoke at the news conference, which Patrick did not attend, a detail noted by the media and the public.
"She's not the kind that runs off," Cheryl said of her daughter, asking people to turn to the Facebook page, Missing Mother—Kelsey Barreth, for any information. "This is completely out of character."
She then added, "Someone knows where she's at."
Though Cheryl made a desperate plea during the conference—"Kelsey, we just want you home. Call us if you can and we won't quit looking"—some questioned why she waited until Dec. 2, almost 10 days after she was last seen in public, to report Kelsey missing.
So why did Cheryl eventually report her daughter missing?
It's because her phone had sent text messages... three days after she was seen grocery shopping on Thanksgiving Day, a bizarre twist in the case.
Three days after Thanksgiving, when Kelsey was seen on surveillance footage wearing a white shirt, grey sweater and blue pants while shopping at Safeway with her daughter in tow, her boss at Doss Aviation in Pueblo, Colorado, received a test message from the pilot instructor, informing them she would not be at work for the next week.
"We are aware of the current missing persons investigation by local authorities," a spokeswoman for Doss Aviation told The Gazette. "We extend our support to the family of Ms. Berreth and hope for her immediate safe return."
On the same day her employer received the text message from Kelsey, Patrick also claimed he received a message, De Young confirmed at the conference, though its content was not shared publicly. The police chief told reporters that at the time Patrick was being cooperative, though he told the reporters they would have to ask him why he was not present at the press conference.
After the 10-minute news conference was held, the law office of Jeremy Loew provided a statement to E! news on Patrick's behalf that addressed his much-discussed absence.
"Much has been said over the news and social media about Mr. Frazee's absence at the local new conference recently held by the Woodland Park Police Department on December 10, 2018," the statement read. "Mr. Frazee was first notified of the press conference approximately an hour prior to its commencement. Had he been given more advance notice, he would have participated."
Her mobile phone pinged on a cell tower in Idaho, over 700 miles away from her last known whereabouts.
Per The Denver Post, Kelsey has family, including her mother, in Idaho, close to where her phone was used, and Washington. But there was no evidence that she had flown away in an aircraft from her work, or that she and Patrick were having any issues in their relationship prior to her disappearance, according to De Young.
The Facebook page posted on Dec. 6 that it would be "out of character" for Kelsey to not contact anyone before flying a plane.
"Kelsey is a pilot. Although it would be out of character for her to not contact anyone before making a cross-country trip we can't exclude the possibility. Kelsey has ties to the Pacific Northwest as well as Kansas. She does not own a plane nor do we know of any local friends that she would borrow one from," the post read. "I don't believe she has ever made a flight without filing a flight plan. We do realize that it is possible to rent a plane, but I believe someone would be missing it by now."
The police were initially hesitant to publicly identify any suspects or persons of interests, and stated they were considering all options in the missing persons case. And on Dec. 11, The Woodland Park Police Department released the video footage of Kelsey at Safeway, the last time she was seen in public, putting her daughter in a shopping cart.
According to her family, Kelsey wouldn't willingly leave her daughter, with ABC News reporting she was described as "responsible" and "grounded," and her mother saying during the news conference, "Kelsey loves her god, she loves her family and friends and she loves her job."
Her brother-in-law Brendan Kindle told ABC News, "I just want her to come home. I find myself calling her quite often and her phone just goes to voicemail."
And on the Facebook page dedicated to Kelsey's disappearance, her brother Clint Berreth wrote that after going to her house "we know [one] thing [is] certain, Kelsey did not pack to go anywhere."
Friends of Clint started a GoFundMe campaign to "raise funds to defray the costs of the search, investigations, and any other related expenses that arise."
After the Facebook page uploaded the video from the news conference held on Dec 10, an administrator responded to some of the theories and speculation being posted in the comments section.
"We are asking yet again, PLEASE STOP THE SPECULATION. Everything that is pertinent to assist in helping us find Kelsey is in the press conference video. All other information the family has the right to keep private. We will all be very ashamed of ourselves if we discover that some other reason, other than the conjectures being stated, turn out to be the cause of Kelsey's disappearance."
Of course, much of the speculation centered on the status of Kelsey and Patrick's relationship.
At the first press conference about Kelsey's disappearance, De Young confirmed that the couple did not live together. Cheryl clarified, "They have never lived together."
It was a detail many marked as odd.
It was also confirmed they were still engaged at the time she was reported missing, which leads to another question from the press: Why hadn't Patrick reported he hadn't seen the mother of his child since Thanksgiving?
"That's a question we'll have to ask Patrick," the police chief said, noting earlier Cheryl had reported Kelsey missing only after calling Patrick and discovering the last time he heard from her was the test message he received on Nov. 25.
So was he being considered a suspect from the start? "At this point he is the father of Kelsey's daughter," De Young said, "and we're going to leave it at that, so this is a missing persons case."
Since then, Patrick "continues to cooperate with law enforcement in the missing person investigation of Kelsey Berreth," the statement provided to E! News by his lawyer said.
It also revealed that his cooperation has included "interviews with law enforcement, voluntarily releasing his phone to be searched by law enforcement, buccal [swabs], and photographs. "
The statement continued, "Mr. Frazee hopes and prays for Ms. Berreth's return. Mr. Frazee will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and continue to parent the child he shares with Ms. Berreth. He will not speak to the media about this case, as he does not want to impede law enforcement's investigation. All calls regarding this investigation should be directed to the Woodland Park Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations."
But during the Dec. 14 update, De Young revealed Patrick "hasn't sat down with an investigator yet. He is communicating with us through his attorney."
And on Dec. 11, a reporter for ABC News approached Patrick as he was leaving a law firm, as seen in the video posted by KRDO News Channel 13, asking, "People want to know why you haven't spoken out about your fiancé? Can you give us your side of the story, please? Is there anything you would like to say?"
Patrick did not respond to any of the questions and remained in his truck before driving off.
But soon, that red truck would be taken into police custody.
Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Early on Dec. 14, the Woodland Park Police Department issued a statement revealing they were carrying out a search warrant, along with other agencies, to search Patrick's home, as they continued to investigate her missing persons case.
"This case is the number one priority for the Woodland Park Police Department and we are working around the clock on it," the department said.
ABC News was outside of Patrick's home when the police arrived to conduct their search, which was "going to take a number of days to finish," De Young informed the public, explaining they did "have enough information" to get a judge to sign off on the warrant to search Patrick's 35-acre property.
When asked why it took so long for police to search his home, De Young answered, "There are a number of other things we have done up until this point that have led to us being able to search the residence at this point."
Just one day before police received the warrant to search his client's property, his attorney Jeremy Loew told the Today show that he had "no reason to believe that [Frazee] is a suspect."
The news conference was held on Dec. 10, but the Facebook page dedicated to updating the public on the case was created by loved ones on Dec. 5.
And after she was reported missing by her mother on Dec. 2, the police searched her apartment, where they found both of her vehicles, her toothbrush, and a possible clue in a baked good.
"Yes, we did search it," De Young said during the news conference. "Yes, there were some cinnamon rolls. They were cold."
The small town in Idaho where her phone last pinged near, Gooding, is located on Interstate-84, which is between Woodland Park, Colorado, and Soap Lake, Washington, where family members of Kelsey live.
"Her grandma isn't in good health so we thought, 'Well maybe'. In which case she could've driven right through the Tri-Cities," Kelsey's cousin JoDee Garretson told KEPRtv.
But no one in the family had heard from Kelsey since Thanksgiving Day, which is the last time her mother Cheryl spoke to her over the phone.
In an interview with NBC's Joe Fryer on Thursday, Cheryl said she spoke to Kelsey twice that day.
It was just small things," she said of their conversations. "Initially she just needed a recipe."
Cheryl went on to say she didn't suspect anything was wrong. "Her voice was fine...it was an normal day for her."
She also addressed a subject of much focus and interest ever since her daughter's disappearance started making headlines: Kelsey and Patrick's relationship.
"Their relationship has been good," she said. "They're loving."
But she added, "The speculation hasn't been helpful. Don't try to figure this out. We've got people trying to do that. Just share the photo.There's more important things to be done."
And similar to what she said during the news conference, Cheryl seemed confident someone knows something about her daughter's disappearance.
"I still know somebody knows where she's at. Somebody has seen her," she said at the time. "There's more information out there. Somebody just needs to realize and to recognize and to say something."
Cheryl remained hopeful that Kelsey would be found alive.
"In the back of my mind, sure, there's a possibility something else could've happened, but it does me no good to go down that road and I don't think it does Kelsey any good either."
Now, right as Christmas came and went, she unfortunately got her answer.
(This story was originally published on Dec. 15, 2018, at 3 a.m. PST.)
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