Colorado man charged with murder in missing mother case

DENVER, Dec 31 (Reuters) - A Colorado man was charged on Monday with the murder of his fiance, who was reported missing in November and is now presumed dead.

Patrick Frazee, 32, was charged in Teller County District Court with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of solicitation to commit murder stemming from the disappearance and presumed killing of Kelsey Berreth, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Dan May said in a text message.

Colorado law allows prosecutors to lodge multiple murder charges for a single killing under different theories. Frazee did not enter a plea at Monday’s hearing.

The Colorado Public Defender’s Office, which represents Frazee, declined to comment, citing its standing policy of not commenting on pending cases outside of court.

Berreth, 29, was last seen publicly on Nov. 22 when a security camera captured her entering a grocery store in the small mountain town of Woodland Park, Colorado, about 90 miles southwest of Denver.

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Missing Colorado mother Kelsey Berreth
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Missing Colorado mother Kelsey Berreth
Kelsey Berreth was last seen on surveillance cameras shopping at a Safeway in Colorado with her daughter on Thanksgiving. (Photo: Woodland Park Police Department)
Community members hold a candlelight vigil for Kelsey Berreth under the gazebo of Memorial Park in Woodland Park, Colo., on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Berreth was last seen on Thanksgiving Day, captured on surveillance video entering a grocery store with what appears to be her 1-year-old daughter in a baby carrier. Weeks later, investigators don't know what happened to the 29-year-old Colorado mother. (Kelsey Brunner/The Gazette via AP)
Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young answers questions about the disappearance of Woodland Park, Colo., resident Kelsey Berreth, 29, while her mother, Cheryl Berreth, stands in the background during a news conference at the Woodland Park City Hall. Berreth was last seen Nov. 22, 2018, at the local Safeway store. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)
Kelsey Berreth was last seen on surveillance cameras shopping at a Safeway in Colorado with her daughter on Thanksgiving. (Photo: Woodland Park Police Department)
Kelsey Berreth was last seen on surveillance cameras shopping at a Safeway in Colorado with her daughter on Thanksgiving. (Photo: Woodland Park Police Department)
Police are giving an update on the case of missing Woodland Park mom Kelsey Berreth, who hasn't been seen since Tha… https://t.co/rJv6Gbq869
“This is completely out of character. Someone knows where she’s at. Please Kelsey, come home. We won’t stop looking… https://t.co/zkW0orirpz
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Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said at an earlier news conference that Frazee told police he saw Berreth later that day when he picked up the couple’s 1-year-old daughter, Kaylee.

Following Frazee’s arrest on Dec. 21, a judge granted temporary custody of the child to her maternal grandparents, court documents showed. De Young said three days after her disappearance, Berreth’s employer received a text message from her phone that said she would not be at work that week, and later that day her phone connected to a cell tower in Idaho.

The Twin Falls, Idaho, police department and county sheriff’s office said in a joint statement last week that they had assisted FBI agents and Colorado authorities in serving “several search warrants as well as processing some items of evidence.”

The arrest warrant is under seal and all police have said publicly is that they believe Berreth was killed at her Woodland Park home.

Teller County District Judge Linda Billings-Vela set a motions hearing for Friday, and a one-day preliminary hearing for Jan. 29, state court spokesman Jon Sarche told Reuters by phone. Frazee could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Tom Brown)

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