Exclusive: Incarcerated doctor disputes conviction of murder of wife
05/23/2017 3:28 pm PDT
Everything in the Frasch household was larger than life: Big bank accounts, big houses, and even bigger personalities. But all if came to a crashing halt with one big murder mystery.
A wealthy doctor and a Parisian model -- a couple who had it all. Money, mansions and then tragedy: The exotic Samira Frasch was found dead in her luxury pool on Feb. 22, 2014.
Some said it was an accident. Others said it was murder.
In a Crime Watch Daily exclusive, Dr. Adam Frasch speaks publicly for the very first time about his wife's death.
Adam Frasch was a successful doctor living the dream in sunny Florida.
"Dr. Adam Frasch, he's a very flamboyant, extravagant individual," said Leon County Sheriff's Detective Anthony Geraldi. "He was a podiatrist by trade and he had a lot of money, which he spent. He loved luxurious cars, trips, he gambled quite frequently, and he also had some type of infatuation with exotic dancers."
"He had Mercedes, BMWs, Corvettes, Hummers, luxury SUVs, motorcycles," Florida State Attorney's Office Investigator Jason Newlin. "If you can think of it, Adam probably had two or three of them. I believe at one point I noticed he had 81 cars registered to him. And there was multiple that weren't registered to him that he owned as well."
While separating from his second wife, Adam traveled to Paris and met Samira. According to her best friend Jackie Watson, Samira was a shooting star from Madagascar on the fast track to fame.
"She was a model in Paris. She was on her way up," said Samira's friend Jackie Watson. "Before she became a mother Samira always wanted to have a career as a singer, and she was a good singer."
"We first got married in Las Vegas, and then we had a formal wedding in Madagascar about six months later," Adam Frasch told Crime Watch Daily in an exclusive interview in prison.
They had two little girls and settled into a swanky life in a gated Tallahassee neighborhood.
"I think she was a good mom," said Deputy Assistant Florida State Attorney Georgia Cappleman. "She seemed very interested in providing the best life for her children. She had an interesting way of going about that, which might be somewhat controversial, but I do think she was a good mother."
"From everything we can tell she was very attentive to the children and wanted the children to be the center of attention everywhere they went," said Jason Newlin. "She would parade the kids around in very expensive strollers and clothing and tried to start a clothing line for one of her daughters and threw a one-year birthday party for one of the daughters that most people wouldn't throw for a wedding."
"She was the best mother ever," said Jackie Watson. "She was very nurturing, she loved her girls more than her own life."
"Their lifestyle was very unorthodox, very flashy, flamboyant type of way of dressing, the vehicles they rode in, the way that they furnished their home," said Cappleman.
Beneath the surface of this life of excess there were signs of trouble. The money wasn't just from his podiatry practice: investigators say there was some dirty money too.
"I know there was some investigation from the feds looking into his, some of his book, but he made a lot of money for his trade," said Det. Anthony Geraldi.
"I learned that he had multiple extramarital affairs going on throughout the course of his marriage," said Cappleman. "I learned that he was engaged in Medicaid fraud to the tune of many hundreds of thousands of dollars."
"Everything I can tell, it [their relationship] was pretty violent," said Jason Newlin. "Physical abuse, verbal abuse. Mental for sure. You know, and Adam had multiple, multiple girlfriends."
He also fathered a child with one of those girlfriends.
"When Samira and I had a falling out during our engagement period and had a child with a woman outside of wedlock but it wasn't a plan there. We dated for a short period of time," said Adam Frasch.
But Adam's father says there were problems with Samira as well. In fact, he claims she wasn't a model at all.
"Later on we found out that she wasn't really a model, that this was all fabricated. And that Adam kind of built it up with her," said Alvin Frasch, Adam's father.
The reported episodes of violence escalated.
"He had a very short temper and when his temper went south it was pretty bad. He could be violent very quick," said Newlin.
"Every time she was confronting him about his cheating he was getting violent because he was feeling trapped," said Samira's friend Jackie Watson. "She was telling me he would get very aggressive, with the throat, putting back on the bed."
Friends say Samira was terrified of her husband. But Dr. Frasch says he was the victim of a violent alcoholic.
"She would get sometimes in a jealous rage or mood even though I wasn't doing anything or flirting or anything but she would just get in these moods sometimes. Especially if she was drinking," said Adam Frasch.
Was he physically violent to Samira?
"Never," said Adam. "People say fights, it wasn't like me returning the aggression or the anger. I would try to calm her down. I would say 'Baby, I love you, calm down,' you know, and so when people were there they didn't understand her 'cause they didn't love her like I did. And they would say 'How can you tolerate that?' And I'd say 'When you love somebody -- ' I knew she had a condition, it was mostly hormonally related."
"It was very tumultuous. They were on-again/off-again," said Det. Giraldi.
"They were toxic," said Jason Newlin. "They would get in an argument, and for him to get her back he would send photographs of hundred-dollar bills on the bed and 'I love you,' and that was what would bring her back to the house."
The Florida couple had all the money they could want. But all that wealth couldn't buy them happiness.
On the surface, Adam and Samira Frasch seemed to have an enviable life.
"They had multiple houses in Tallahassee, houses in Thomasville, houses all around the Southeast," said investigator Jason Newlin.
"My first impression when I met Adam Frasch, actually I liked him, liked him very much," said Samira's friend Jackie Watson. "I find him with a lot of charisma, he was taking care of his wife and the little girl. To me they seemed the perfect couple."
They were raising two little girls while residing in the lap of luxury.
"It's the one of the premier neighborhoods in Tallahassee," said Newlin. "It's a very affluent neighborhood. It's very nice, it's a gated community. It's one of the safer neighborhoods in town."
"And she wanted to develop the girls basically with social media, reality show, movie, whatever she could do for them," said Jackie Watson.
But for a wealthy doctor who had a taste for strippers, speedboats and fast cars, domestic tranquility was a bitter pill to swallow.
"He had at least three affairs with three separate exotic dancers, two of whom worked at the same club," said Det. Anthony Geraldi.
But Adam denies these allegations -- sort of. Was he faithful to Samira?
"Yes, I mean except for when she filed for divorce, I started dating and I dated like three different women during that time," said Adam.
Samira, a native of Madagascar who spoke French, found herself with few options.
"I think Adam had the capability of holding some things over Samira, in regards to monetary," said Geraldi. "She didn't have family in town, she had limited friends, she spoke limited English, she wasn't working."
"She was very much alone in this country, she and her kids," said Georgia Cappleman. "And she didn't understand the system, she didn't know how to get a lawyer, how to get custody. She was completely reliant on him."
The mounting tension led to an altercation that finally got the attention of police.
"Then she got physical and started hitting me, but I knew not even to put my hands up to protect myself, she'd say I tried hit her or something," Adam told Crime Watch Daily in an exclusive prison interview. "So I just stayed there and she almost choked me unconscious."
"He'd back away and never do anything. He's mild-tempered like that," said Alvin Frasch, Adam's father.
"She'd actually been arrested for domestic violence against Adam," said Det. Geraldi.
She was arrested and she was charged, but the charges were later dropped.
"He had the cops coming over pretending that she hurt him physically and he took the kids. Such a nightmare," said Jackie Watson.
Adam was given temporary custody of the kids -- an agonizing time for Samira. While the couple continued their on-again/off-again ways, Samira began to get the upper hand.
"She would go into Adam's phone and look up his contacts, she was very bold, and she would just call," said Det. Geraldi. "The pages had kind of flipped. Samira ended up getting custody of the children and the marital estate and was starting to push back against Adam because of the multiple affairs that he had had."
What was their relationship like in the days leading up to Samira's death?
"Back and forth," said Jason Newlin. "They would fight and they would make up and they would fight and they would make up."
"It was progressively getting worse as far as the violence. She would confide in multiple friends of hers that Adam had threatened to kill her," said Det. Geraldi.
"That was never the case. I never threatened her ever. There's no history of that," said Adam Frasch.
Then, Samira receives an extortion offer from one of Adam's mistresses, who offers to sell her a sex tape starring the good doctor.
"One of the girlfriends, during her interview, said Samira approached her about $4,000 for a sex tape between the two," said Newlin.
Then came the night of February 22, 2014. Samira had filed for divorce and technically she and Adam were separated, with Samira in sole possession of the kids and house. But Adam claims they were in a period of reconciliation.
"We were together," said Adam.
"No, he was not supposed to go to that house, but he was still coming night and day, hunting her. He was hunting her," said Samira's friend Jackie Watson.
The family spent the day out of town. That night, as recorded on surveillance video, Adam stopped at an auto garage where Samira picked up her Hummer, transferred the kids' car seats, and headed home. We can also see her returning to her gated community of Golden Eagle at approximately 11 p.m., followed by Adam in a black SUV.
What time did he and Samira go to bed?
Adam: "After the babies went to bed, we were talking and then we made love, and then we went to bed approximately 1, 1:30, around that range."
They had sex in the living room?
Did they argue that night, or any have any type of fight?
The next morning, Adam is seen on video leaving with both kids.
"The next movement we can document is at 8 o'clock on the dot, he's pulling out of Golden Eagle," said Newlin. "[Adam claims] that she wanted a break from the kids and that he was going take the kids to either Miami or Panama City and that she was going to meet them there after a couple-day break."
"And a lot of times I'd give her a mama's day off on the weekends to get her hair done or nails done and go get her waxing done, all those things," said Adam Frasch.
Approximately three hours later, Gerald Gardner, the family handyman is seen on video entering through the gate along with his 13-year-old son. Minutes later, Gardener makes a horrifying call to 911. He reports Samira is lying in the pool, dead.
"I don't know what happened," Gardner tells the 911 dispatcher. "I just got here to do some work for her, I talked to her yesterday. ... He got some kids, I don't know where the kids are, I don't know nothing. I just pulled up and I just walked back there in the pool area and she was laying in the pool.
"She been in there, I don't know how long, she, she, she completely gone. And I want y'all to come take pictures of it before I take her out.
"She's dead, she drowned. Somebody, somebody had to kill her," Gardner tells the dispatcher.
Samira's sandal is found wrapped around a hose. Did she trip and fall? Or was there something far more sinister to blame?
"She had to try to find a way to get away from him. And I think she was working on that and I think she was succeeding and that's what he couldn't tolerate," said Deputy Assistant Florida State Attorney Georgia Cappleman.
But Adam claims Samira was alive and well when he left with his kids that morning.
"I kissed her goodbye and said 'I'll catch up with you later,' she said 'OK,'" said Adam.
Investigator Jason Newlin says that Adam Frasch and his girls are seen later that day on bank security video, where he withdrew $5,000 in cash.
Adam traveled to his beach home in Panama City, making several calls to Samira's phone and leaving messages throughout the day.
That afternoon, Adam received a disturbing call from a friend.
"He called Adam to say 'Hey, I just got word from the police buddy of mine that something's going on at your house and Samira's dead in your pool,'" said Newlin.
"He said that he had heard through a friend of ours that Sam had drowned in the pool, and I broke down and I was crying," Adam tells Crime Watch Daily.
"They were trying to get their relationship back together right before this happened. He was really upset," said Alvin Frasch, Adam's father.
According to Detective Anthony Geraldi, police immediately went looking for Dr. Frasch.
"We arrested him while he was coming out of his home in Panama City," said Geraldi.
Adam is taken to the station where he's grilled for several hours.
Samira Frasch, a mother of two young daughters, was found dead at the bottom of her pool at the age of 38. The medical examiner's report confirms the worst fears: This was no accident.
"It was blunt-force trauma coupled with drowning," said Leon County Sheriff's Detective Anthony Geraldi.
"She was hit in the head with some object, a fist, a golf club, we don't know," said prosecutor Anthony Geraldi. "Fell and cracked her head on some hard, flat surface, possibly the pool deck, and then while she was still alive suffering from a massive head injury, was put into the pool to drown."
"Adam said Samira drank two bottles of Champagne that night," said Newlin.
Does that jibe with the medical examiner's report?
"Not one bit," said investigator Jason Newlin. "She had zero alcohol in her system."
Adam also claims that he and Samira were back together again at the time of her death, a claim the prosecutor isn't buying.
"You really kind of have to look at the big picture of the relationship, how she really was getting the upper hand as far as getting possession of the house, custody of the children, alimony. The tide had turned," said Cappleman. "And I think that was not acceptable to Mr. Frasch."
But in his testimony to police, Adam definitely had another suspect in mind -- Gerald Gardner, the handyman who made the gruesome discovery. Adam even suggested that Samira was having an affair with Gerald.
Prosecutors say Gerald had his own theory as well.
"When law enforcement arrived, he told them 'He did it, he finally killed her,' and he was referring to the defendant," said Georgia Cappleman. "So he immediately assumed that she'd been murdered by her husband."
As for motive, many believe Adam Frash was worried that a sex tape featuring him and a girlfriend would give Samira valuable ammunition in divorce proceedings.
"He provided some information in regards to a sex tape that Samira was trying to buy off of one of his girlfriends and confronted Adam with this," said Jason Newlin.
"She had mentioned that earlier in the week and she was saying that they were giving her, or she had to pay them money to get this, or something, and I was like, you know, it didn't add up," said Adam Frasch.
"I believe that Adam Frasch killed Samira because when that day when she received that DVD, she was so disappointed, hurt, enraged, and I tried to calm her down that night and said 'Samira, you've got to keep calm. You cannot get upset with him because he's going to become dangerous, because he's going to feel like he's cornered,'" said Samira's friend Jackie Watson.
"I believe that she could have definitely pushed him too far," said Det. Geraldi.
Adam Frasch denies he killed his wife, and denies there was an explosive fight that he tried to cover up.
The medical examiner also deals a blow the state of Florida's case.
"We knew she was alive when she came through the gates and her last phone activity, and that was it," said Cappleman. "We knew she was killed sometime between then and 11 a.m. The medical examiner that actually examined the body in the case was not able to give a time of death because of the cold water in the pool, which affected the decomposition of the body to the extent that there was just no way to say when she went in."
And if that weren't enough, a neighbor states that he saw someone who looked very much like Samira in her driveway at 10:30 the morning of her death, hours after Adam had left with the kids.
"I just think the neighbors got the wrong day," said investigator Jason Newlin.
Despite these obstacles, Assistant State's Attorney Georgia Cappleman makes her case to the grand jury to bring murder charges against Adam Frasch.
In a surprising twist, Adam makes a public plea, publishing a letter directly aimed at prosecutors, with questions like: "What evidence do you have that I have any reason to kill my wife?"
Dr. Frasch was charged with first-degree murder.
Nearly three years after the death of Samira Frasch, her husband, Dr. Adam Frasch, stands trial for first-degree murder.
Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman faces two major obstacles: First, no definitive time of death due to the frigid temperature of the pool. The defense attorney jumps all over it.
The second challenge: A witness who claims he saw Samira alive hours after Adam left the home. The witness, a neighbor, never changed his story.
"And his teenage daughter, he had his teenage daughter walking with him too, and she said the same thing," said Adam Frasch.
"I just think he's wrong, on the wrong day," said Jason Newlin.
Cappleman's first witness was Gerald Gardner, the handyman who found Samira, and the target of suspicion by Adam Frasch.
Then, a shocker: The prosecution calls a surprise witness -- Dale Folsom.
"Folsom, he's a career snitch. I mean, I had a hard time convincing myself to take the word of this guy," said Jason Newlin.
Folsom tells the court that Adam Frasch was his cellmate for six or seven months in the county jail. A 40-time convicted felon and confessed drug addict since the age of 9, Folsom came with some serious baggage.
"In this case, I went and talked to Dale and he is talking about things that I knew were accurate," said Newlin. "Very little of it was stuff he could have read in a newspaper."
Folsom tells the court Frasch and Samira got into a physical fight, and says Frasch told him he hit Samira in the head with a golf club.
"She fell and then he said he checked on her a little later and realized what had happened, said he didn't mean to kill her. Said he didn't mean to kill her, it happened, and he just got scared and ran. Throwed her in the pool then ran," Folsom testifies. "I imagine he did it out of instinct, but probably to cover up the, I guess when you do commit a crime like that you wanna cover your tracks."
Folsom received a break on his sentence for his cooperation -- and this is not the first time he's played the role of jailhouse snitch.
Adam Frasch denies confiding in Dale Folsom or discussing specifics of his case with him.
Folsom also claims Adam asked him to get the golf club out of his house once Folsom was out of jail.
"It was a big club, like a driver. Big fat one. He said he would tell me which one, he didn't tell me exactly that day. There was a bunch of them there," Folsom testified.
Did Frasch ever tell Folsom about the golf club?
"No, never, I just told him I was a golfer, I played golf," Frasch tells Crime Watch Daily.
In fact, investigators did find a golf club in the house. And it even had Samira's DNA on it. But when the medical examiner takes the stand, the whole golf club story blows up in the prosecution's face.
"You looked at that golf club and from looking at it, plus everything else that the autopsy disclosed to you, it's your opinion that the golf club did not cause those injuries, is that correct?" the medical examiner is asked during trial.
"It doesn't appear that it did," the medical examiner testified.
Adam denies this -- in fact, he claims that police and prosecutors planted the club and tried to frame him.
"Let me explain the golf club thing: the golf club thing happened like a year and half after Samira's death, this golf club mysteriously shows up in the house after my dad had put the house up for sale, cleared the whole thing out, plus my dad, he's a golf nut and sports fanatic, so he would never had left a golf club in the house like that, just leaning up against the window," said Frasch. "The investigators planted that golf club, I have proof of that."
"Wouldn't have been in there 'cause I'm a golfer -- if there'd a been a golf club in there, I'd a had it," said Adam's father Alvin Frasch.
The medical examiner says basically, "A golf club did not kill Samira."
"She didn't say that. She said she didn't think it was a golf club," said Cappleman. "She can't rule it out either. But she just felt like the head of the club would be so hard that it would split the skin and you would see bleeding, which we didn't have in this case. She believed the injuries were more consistent with a fist."
"I think they got in a fight over his girlfriends, I think it escalated quickly and I think he knocked her out," said Jason Newlin. "And when she's not coming up from this fight, the last resort was to throw her in the pool, make it look like somebody else did it. He moves the hose around the pool. Flip-flops underneath the hose. There's another flip-flop in the pool. It looks like it's a completely staged scene."
"And that's what made it a first-degree murder, when he made the decision to put her in the pool while she was still alive and make the scene look like an accident," said prosecutor Georgia Cappleman.
So it's possible Samira's life could have been saved?
"I believe so," said Newlin.
After less than two hours of deliberation, the jury reaches its verdict on January 26, 2017: Guilty of first-degree murder.
The sentencing is just as swift as the verdict. The judge sentences Adam Frasch to life in prison.
Adam Frasch will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Yet he remains defiant in his claims of innocence.
"I'll say this: Every one of the witnesses they put on the stand lied, and I can prove it. They made untruthful statements," said Adam Frasch.
Lost in all of this tragedy perhaps is the result for two little girls, who will now live without either parent.
"They have lost both and that's terrible for them," said Cappleman.
"I want the girls to know about their mother, that she was one of the most beautiful human beings, and she has class and love and compassion and she loved them very, very much," said Samira's friend Jackie Watson.