Update: Did the Doctor Murder His Exotic Wife? Mar 3, 2015 1:53:51 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Mar 3, 2015 1:53:51 GMT -5
Did the Doctor Murder His Exotic Wife?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As soon as he entered the screened-pool area at the Golden Eagle manse the morning of Saturday, February 22, 2014, Gerald Gardner knew something was wrong. First, the maintenance man saw Samira Fraschs little white dog running around the enclosure where it didn’t belong. The bichon frise normally stayed in the bathroom connected to the house, but the door was ajar. Then he saw the gem-studded black sandals in the water, one caught under a hose on the first step, another in the shallow end. And there she was – Dr. Adam Frasch’s exotic third wife, Samira, lying on her back submerged at the bottom of the deep end of the pool, motionless and naked, save for an open leopard-print robe still tied around her waist. Gardner ran to the front of the house at 8374 Inverness Drive and called 911 on his cell phone. “She’s dead,” the 41-year-old told dispatchers. “She’s completely gone.” Leon County deputy Richard Womble arrived shortly after the 11:02 a.m. call. As he led the deputy to the pool, Gardner said: “He killed her, he did it.”
A year later, Frasch – once a jet-setting Thomasville (Georgia) podiatrist with a passion for gambling, fast cars and women – sits in a cell at the Leon County Jail awaiting trial on a charge of killing his 38-year-old wife of five years, a Madagascar native with a thick French accent, ostentatious taste and murky past. While Frasch, 47, was long considered the prime suspect – the couple’s volatile relationship was well-known to friends and well-documented in court filings – it took prosecutors almost nine months to bring the case before a grand jury and he was indicted for first-degree murder in November 2014.
Investigative reports, recently shared with Frasch’s defense team by the state attorney’s office and obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat under Florida’s open records law, provide insight into the tawdry case of infidelity and excess. The documents, which include dozens of witness interviews, the autopsy report and investigators’ findings, reveal previously undisclosed details concerning events surrounding the death of Samira, who was in the process of divorcing her husband. Ultimately, the reports indicate prosecutors may argue the discovery of a sex video of Frasch and one of his girlfriends led to a final fight between husband and wife. Frasch’s lead defense attorney, Clyde Taylor, says the prosecution’s case is based on circumstantial evidence and the pretrial investigation reports are notable for the information they lack.
The autopsy report indicates Samira died as the result of drowning and blunt head trauma – she had a large bruise on the right side of her forehead and a skull fracture – but it doesn’t pinpoint her exact time of death. Notes from one of the firefighters who pulled her from the 58-degree water said her fingertips didn’t appear to have been submerged for long. Based on her appearance, first responders decided to begin CPR, which continued for 45 minutes to no avail.
Frasch, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, does not deny spending the previous night with Samira. The investigation reveals he left the house more than two hours before her body was found. He was seen departing in the same clothing he wore the previous day and a neighbor on a walk reported seeing a woman who resembled Samira outside the house after Frasch was gone. “Lawyers say all the time that their client is not guilty,” said Taylor, who expects to go to trial this year, although a date has not been set. “[But] I’ve been practicing criminal defense law for over 35 years and truly am looking forward to Dr. Frasch’s day in court.”
Like the case itself, Frasch’s year-long odyssey in the criminal justice system has had unexpected twists and turns. While not formally accused of killing his wife until three months ago, Frasch spent almost all of 2014 behind bars on child custody charges after he took the couple’s 2-year-old and 10-month-old daughters to Panama City Beach the morning of his wife’s death. When he was arrested by Bay County deputies around 4 p.m. that day at a home he owns there, the girls were strapped into their car seats and Frasch – who said he took them at his wife’s request so she could rest – was packing his Black Yukon. He said he had just learned from a friend about his wife’s death and was headed back to Tallahassee. Prosecutors say he was preparing to flee.
After his arrest, Frasch was released for a few weeks as part of a pretrial agreement. He was jailed a second time when federal authorities investigating him for Medicare fraud discovered guns in his medical office in violation of the agreement.
The slow-moving custody case was further delayed in July when Frasch was deemed mentally incompetent to assist in his defense because of an apparent untreated bipolar disorder. After months of medication in jail, he was allowed to proceed. Prosecutors attempted to have him charged with second-degree murder to keep him in custody, but a judge found the evidence insufficient. The custody charges were resolved, and on October 30, he was released from jail.
That day, Frasch wrote an open letter to the “People of Tallahassee.” In the rambling missive, he condemned his treatment by prosecutors, complained about jail conditions, lamented the loss of his wife and criticized the narrow focus of her death investigation. “I did not murder the mother of my two babies,” he wrote.
After hearing from prosecutors and Frasch during a closed-door gathering a week later, grand jurors deemed otherwise. Frasch has been in jail ever since. The children have been living with his family in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Frasches’ relationship was fraught with discord from the start. Adam Frasch was married to his second wife, Tracey Ellinor, when he met Samira in the summer of 2006 during Fashion Week in Paris. She purported to be a high-fashion model. Her obituary, penned by Frasch, calls her a “retired super model,” but there is scant evidence the 5-foot-7 woman scaled the heights of the European fashion world.
The two carried on a long-distance relationship for three years while Frasch battled Ellinor in a nasty divorce. Contemptuous of lawyers and convinced of his superior intelligence, he represented himself during the proceedings. Frasch’s performance was so disastrous, the judge, in a written order, questioned “his grasp on reality.”
Adam and Samira married in 2009 in Las Vegas. She got her affairs overseas in order and moved to Tallahassee in the spring of 2010. She soon learned her new husband had fathered a child by another woman in her absence. Devastated, Samira claimed she suffered a miscarriage, court documents revealed. She threatened to divorce Frasch and he leveled against her the first of several domestic-violence allegations he would continue to make throughout their marriage, though she said he was the one who meted out the abuse. That back-and-forth pattern characterized, what one of his friends called, their “love-hate relationship.”
The two reconciled before the 2011 birth of their first daughter, whom Samira spent much of her time grooming to be a child celebrity. The couple had another daughter, but the happy times didn’t last. In August 2013, they had a series of big blowouts in which he said she attacked him, hit him in the head with a statue and tried to run him off the road. She was arrested, but the charges were dropped. A month later, she filed for divorce, citing his abuse, excessive gambling and adultery. The move sent Frasch into a tailspin. He begged her in long strings of alternately loving and cruel text messages to change her mind. She didn’t. In December, two months before her death, a judge granted her sole temporary possession of the Golden Eagle home and custody of their two daughters.
Samira began telling friends and neighbors she feared for her life. She parked her white Hummer on the front lawn – to the chagrin of residents in her upscale gated north Tallahassee subdivision – so she could make a dash with the girls for the front door. Samira told her two hairdressers, her assistant and even the Golden Eagle Homeowner’s Association managers that her husband had threatened to kill her. Six months earlier, Frasch said the same thing about her.
After 40 years of practice, Buddy Whitlock, Samira’s divorce attorney, started carrying a gun because he, too, feared Frasch. “I think he is capable of doing anything,” Whitlock said at the time. “You could tell he was an intelligent guy, but kind of a loose cannon.”
Frasch told investigators and others the couple had been trying to work things out. But two weeks before Samira’s death, the Frasches five-year fire-and-ice saga intensified, the investigation showed. On February 7, while driving back from Thomasville, Samira claimed Frasch ran her off the road. Her assistant, following with the children in another car, confirmed her story, but a friend riding with Frasch told investigators Samira was the instigator.
Two days later, she had 14 of Frasch’s vehicles, including a silver Corvette, black Cadillac Escalade and white Mercedes, towed from the driveway of the Golden Eagle house. She was panic-stricken that Frasch would show up before the job was done, said a neighbor who spoke with her. “They’ve got to go faster than this,” Samira told the woman. “They’re just taking too long to get these cars out of here.”
The same day (February 9, 2014), Frasch began paying for an exotic dancer named Erica Tidwell, one of his three known girlfriends at the time, to stay at a Tallahassee hotel on Village Green Way. She left a voicemail for Frasch, intercepted by Samira, asking for money to pay expenses. Sometime that week, hotel staff said, Samira came looking for Tidwell.
On Valentine’s Day, Frasch began paying for Tidwell’s room and went with a friend to retrieve a rental car he’d gotten for her to drive while the Range Rover he bought her was in the shop. Tidwell told investigators she had her brother in Fort Walton Beach come get her.
Two days later, the Frasches were in Miami on a family trip. They returned to Tallahassee mid-week and the relative calm appeared to hold until Friday, February 21. This is when investigators were able to determine Samira used her phone to search Tidwell’s name on the internet and began texting the woman’s husband, informing him of the affair. The phone was found approximately six months later, tucked into a diaper bag Frasch took with him to Panama City Beach the day Samira died.
Frasch gave different accounts of what happened during the final hours he spent with his wife. In all his versions, the last day started out fine with the couple searching in vain for someone to groom the dog, then dropping off Samira’s car for an oil change, before taking the children to lunch at Jonah’s in Thomasville. Then things started falling apart. In one interview with an LCSO deputy, Frasch said Samira became angry about a missing purse and other belongings. They drove to his office, to another house he owns in Tallahassee – where she found a bag of lingerie, which she said was for someone else – and, finally, to the Panama City House late that afternoon to look for her items. Samira, he said, was still mad after they picked up her car and returned to Golden Eagle with the girls about 11 p.m. He said she told him he wouldn’t be staying there that night, but she “calmed down a bit” and he helped put the girls to bed. Samira, he said, drank two bottles of champagne – a trigger for her violent rages, according to him – but was “not too bad.”
Though Frasch was rarely ever alone with the girls – Samira kept them close, especially after he briefly took them early in their divorce – he told investigators she asked him to take them the next day to give her a break. They had sex in the living room, he said, and went to bed at 2 a.m. Two hours later, however, she was awake. She was drinking more, he claimed, and had looked at his phone and confronted him about a recent relationship he said was over. The next morning, Frasch said he got up, fed the dog, gathered the girls and loaded his car. He removed leaves from the pool with the skimmer, noticed a strung-out hose and left while Samira was still asleep.
But as he was driving and after he arrived in Panama City, Frasch told several people he and Samira fought over the video of him and an ex-girlfriend having sex. He told his neighbor at the beach the girlfriend sold the tape to Samira for $4,000, according to investigative reports. Investigators have been unable to locate the recording.
On the way out of town, Frasch called Martha Moore, the woman he had been seeing when he and Samira were first married. The two no longer had a romantic relationship, but he was involved with their 3-year-old daughter. He told her he was going to come by her house and check on her car, but she, too, was on the road to see family in south Florida. Frasch told Moore he had his and Samira’s children with him and was planning to take them to South Beach in Miami. He said Samira had been drinking a lot and he was trying to give her a break. Moore said Frasch sounded very calm – so uncharacteristically calm, in fact, that she mentioned to her mother he seemed to be “having a really good day.”
Frasch claims he has no idea what happened to Samira. He said he didn’t learn of her death until a friend called minutes before he was arrested. The friend said he broke down and he heard one of the girls in the background ask, “Why are you crying, daddy?”
Frasch has suggested that after the night of drinking, she could have tripped on the loose hose while chasing the dog around the pool. Samira didn’t know how to swim and was afraid of the water. From the outset, Frasch said Gardner, the maintenance man, may have been involved. Samira, he said, fawned over the man, trying to make him jealous.
Toxicology reports, however, show Samira had no alcohol in her system. Tests conducted on her fleece leopard-print robe tested positive for DNA from another person, but it did not match Gardner, nor his 14-year-old son, who was with him when they discovered the body. DNA comparisons also have cleared Tidwell and another of Frasch’s paramours. His friends who disliked Samira have also been ruled out – as has Frasch himself.
Most people who knew the couple said they never actually saw them become physically violent. Some of his closest friends said the 6-foot-3, 240-pound man would never harm her, let alone kill her. But Daphne Frasch, a nurse and the eldest of his six children by four different women, told investigators her father had a bad temper. Under the right circumstances, in a manic state, she thought him capable of hurting Samira.
A witness who contacted investigators revealed Frasch asked him to get rid of all the golf clubs from the garage of the Golden Eagle home. Frasch reportedly said he thought they were still there because law enforcement officials hadn’t mentioned them. He instructed the man not to sell or give the clubs away but to toss them in a lake or river. “Just make them disappear,” Frasch said, according to the witness.
Minutes after he was arrested on the custody charges, Frasch provided a disjointed first statement to law enforcement. In it, he ricocheted from point to point, mentioning Gardner, his cars being towed, his legal battles with Samira and problems he had with his previous wife. He went on about Samira’s being an unstable, violent drunk, then, after deputies confirmed the news, he castigated himself for not teaching her to swim. Frasch, who had a scratch under his eye which he said came from one of his children, buried his face in his hands for several minutes and appeared to be crying, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special agent Kristen Cortes noted in her report. “But when he pulled his hands from his face,” she wrote, “he had no tears for all the crying he was doing.”
At the end of that first interview, Bay County Sgt. Chad King asked Frasch directly if he had anything to do with what happened. He said no, but offered: “If it was foul play, I want to know what happened.” Twice during the interview, he said, “I loved her to death.”
Source: Jennifer Portman, The Tallahassee Democrat, March 1, 2015.