TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - When Samira Mbotizafy Frasch arrived in Tallahassee four years ago from France, she told her new friends about a glamorous past where she modeled for a top agency in Paris and attended the prestigious University of Paris-Sud, known for its math studies.
She married a podiatrist, Adam Frasch, whom she met in Paris in 2006, and moved into his 5,000-square foot, $500,000 home in a gated community.
During their courtship, records show he bought Samira, a native of Madagascar, first-class airline tickets to visit or meet him and went on shopping sprees that included a $4,000 outlay at Roberto Cavalli and high-end shows in Las Vegas, where they were married in 2009. They had two daughters: Hyrah, now 2; and 10-month-old Skynaah.
But Samira’s death - her body was found Feb. 22 at the bottom of the family swimming pool with her shoes on - remains mysterious two weeks later. Samira couldn’t swim, friends said, and she rarely spent time by the pool. She had recently filed for divorce and been given temporary custody of the girls and the house.
The medical examiner’s office has completed its autopsy and released the findings to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives aren’t talking, although a spokesman confirmed Adam is a person of interest.
“The husband always is,” said Maj. Michael Wood of the sheriff’s office. Adam Frasch’s attorney, John Leace, said his client did not take Samira’s life. After the body was discovered, Frasch was charged with interference with child custody for taking his daughters without permission. He was released days later and must wear an ankle monitor while that case is resolved.
Mark Becker, who was Adam Frasch’s lawyer between 2009 and 2012, said that a mid-sized city in the southern U.S. like Tallahassee would not have been Samira’s first choice in terms of place to live.
“But Adam is a charming guy, he is very successful with women,” Becker said. “It’s a simple story. He was in Paris, met a woman in a bar and fell in love.”
Friends say that Samira had a 10-year-old son who lived in Paris, and her mother lived on the island of Reunion, off of Madagascar. Her father died last year, said Linda Walker, a family friend.
“She had all her friends in Europe, not here, and she came here to have a family, raise kids,” Walker said.
Much of Samira’s energy went to her crusade to make the couple’s first daughter, Hyrah, into a child model and celebrity. She created a Web site for the child and a Facebook page that has garnered 10,000 likes, featuring videos of Hyrah being carried about at the Kentucky Derby, Niagara Falls and Las Vegas. Samira handed out pink glossy business cards bearing Hyrah’s name and photo.
“She really wanted to make Hyrah famous,” Walker said.
Photos from inside the Frasch home viewed by The Associated Press show a home heaped with goods from all over the world, from vases and art to luxurious rugs and glassware.
The Frasch garage had several luxury cars parked inside, including a Ferrari. A Range Rover and an older model Mercedes sat in the driveway, as well as a new, shiny red three-wheeler.
At another, more modest home several miles away owned by Adam Frasch, four vehicles were parked in the driveway, including an older Lexus, and a Pontiac G6 sedan, with customized metallic orange rims and matching paint.
“He has at least 30 cars,” said Becker, the lawyer.
Adam Frasch, 46, had been married twice previously and has two other children. His thriving medical practice has allowed him to live a life surrounded by things he loves. In court documents, he professes a love of buying sunglasses in addition to vehicles, and acknowledged that at one point in his life, he gambled up to $10,000 a week.
He also had several run-ins with the law, records show. In 2008, he was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.
According to a 2009 Tallahassee police report, Adam Frasch threatened the lawyer of his ex-wife, Tracey, in a letter left at her office. The letter claimed that Kane was under federal investigation and that “now you will be disbarred, Colorado + Florida + fined beyond your abilities.”
The lawyer, Mary Kane, told police that she feared for her safety, the report said.
“She stated that she believed Frasch to be violent and that he has access to weapons,” the report said.
The Frasches appeared to have a yo-yo relationship bookended by criminal charges against Samira.
Records show Samira pleaded no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct after an argument with Adam in an Orlando hotel room in May 2010. But there was little rancor in their marriage, at least publicly, between then and last year.
In the last months of 2013, the marriage was frayed, and the he said-she said battles resulted several times in sheriff’s deputies being called to their home.
Samira was arrested in August on charges of domestic battery in Leon County for assaulting her husband. The charges were later dropped. She filed for a divorce in September. The following month, Frasch had a scrape with the law after arguing with a police officer who had given a friend a speeding ticket. The case was eventually dropped.
The family home where Samira’s body was found had a surveillance system that could be monitored from a smartphone, said Linda Walker, who was friendly with both Adam and Samira. If it were operating, it would likely catch any perpetrator on tape.
“I can’t imagine that it would come to something like this,” Walker said. “Adam was kind and gentle around her, and I never heard him even raise his voice.”
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