The Idaho nurse who admitted to helping a friend hide evidence in the alleged murder of missing Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth was “very, very scared” and feared for her own life if she didn’t assist the accused killer, according to a friend of the nurse.
Krystal Jean Lee Kenney of Hanson, Idaho — also known as Krystal Lee — pleaded guilty Friday to tampering with evidence, specifically by ditching Berreth’s cell phone for Patrick Frazee, 32, Berreth’s fiancé who is charged with her presumed murder.
Berreth, a 29-year-old flight instructor from Woodland Park, Colorado, and mother of Frazee’s child, was last seen in public on Nov. 22.
In court, Kenney said she knew Frazee allegedly had committed murder.
A frightened Kenney had confided to her friend Michelle Stein that she had a role in the coverup, Stein told CBS News. “I will just tell you Krystal was very, very scared,” said Stein. “Krystal’s a very level-headed, kind, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky person. She’s a tough cowgirl. But she was absolutely scared and extremely upset.”
Asked by CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste if she thought Frazee was capable of killing, Stein replied: “Yes. I do. I think he’s a very dangerous person.”
While insisting she has “absolutely no doubt” Kenney was not involved in the alleged murder, Stein said Kenney had “very, very good reasoning for whatever it is she may or may not have done.”
“What was the reasoning?” asked Battiste.
“I can’t really comment completely, but fear, and legitimate fear,” replied Stein.
“That if she didn’t comply with Patrick, he might kill her?”
“Yes, that’s what I believe,” Stein said.
At another point, Stein recalled her friend saying about Frazee, “She did tell me that she has never seen that kind of evil in anybody.”
Kenney and Frazee had dated previously and were acquainted for 15 years, but not until recently did Stein learn that her friend was engaged to Berreth and the couple had a child, said Stein.
Stein did not reveal what Kenny may have said about how she became involved in the Berreth case.
Police had been investigating whether Kenney dumped Berreth’s phone in Idaho on Nov. 24 or 25, where the missing mom’s mobile device last pinged off cell towers shortly before authorities launched a search for her.
According to the felony charge against her, Kenney “destroyed, mutilated, concealed, removed, or altered physical evidence” in the case “believing that an official proceeding was pending or about to be instituted.”
Kenney has agreed to testify against Frazee at his murder trial, said prosecutors at a news conference last week. She is not currently in custody, but faces up to two years in prison for her guilty plea, the terms of which were agreed to in court Friday between prosecutors and Kenney’s attorney, Dru Nielsen. PEOPLE was unable to immediately reach Nielsen.
The deal forbids Kenney from speaking about the case to reporters, and places all related court documents under seal for now. Kenney won’t be sentenced until after Frazee’s trial.
In court Friday, Kenney said through tears, “I knew Patrick Frazee committed homicide,” according to KRDO-TV. She further acknowledged that she knew getting rid of the cell phone would hinder the investigation.
She told the court she dumped Berreth’s phone two days after Berreth’s alleged death, saying, “I had no right or authority to move the victim’s cell phone,” reports CBS News.
In addition to two counts of murder, Frazee faces three counts of solicitation to commit murder in Berreth’s death.
While Teller County, Colorado, investigators have yet to detail the specific allegations behind the solicitation counts, it suggest prosecutors think Frazee allegedly solicited an individual three times, or three people on three separate occasions, as part of an alleged murder plot.
Those alleged solicitations occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, 2018, according to the charging documents, which were obtained by PEOPLE.
According to the documents, prosecutors filed two murder counts because they have two theories about the presumed killing: either Frazee killed Berreth by himself, or he and someone else allegedly tried to rob Berreth before she was killed.
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The charges against Frazee were filed nearly a month after Berreth vanished. She was last spotted publicly on surveillance video that captured her and her daughter entering a local market on Thanksgiving Day.
Frazee, who did not live with Berreth, told police he and his fiancée had met up that same day so Berreth could hand off their daughter to him. The status of Berreth and Frazee’s relationship is unclear, with relatives saying she had ended the engagement weeks earlier and others claiming the couple split the day of the alleged killing.
Berreth’s mother, who lives out of state, reported her daughter missing Dec. 2, and Frazee was arrested Dec. 21. He remains in police custody without bond.
Authorities who continue to search for Berreth’s body have not discussed a possible motive for the presumed killing.
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