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Crime News Dateline

Who Killed A Former French Model Discovered Dead In Her Backyard Pool?

Samira Frasch had lived a life of extravagance until it was violently cut short in February 2014.

By Jill Sederstrom

Samira Frasch’s life was filled with gold and glitz — until it took a dark and tragic turn.

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The former French model was found dead in her backyard pool on February 22, 2014 by a handyman and his young son in the gated Tallahassee community of Golden Eagle.

Her strappy sandals lay in the pool, with one tucked under a hose partially in the water, according to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.

The 38-year-old beauty was dead, but was her death a tragic accident caused by a slip and fall or a violent murder?

Samira was born into poverty in Madagascar, but soon made a name for herself on the Paris fashion runways. She met Dr. Adam Frasch, a prominent and successful podiatrist, in 2006 at a trendy Paris nightclub. Sparks immediately flew between the couple in what Samira believed was her own fairytale romance.

“He showered her with gifts and love and flowers,” her friend Jackie Watson recalled.

After a period of cross-continental dating, the couple got married in Las Vegas and settled down in Tallahassee.

Adam Frasch on Dateline

Even with the runway behind her, Samira’s love of opulence continued — particularly after the couple had their first daughter, Hyrah.

She wanted Hyrah to be a celebrity baby and hired a production crew to film the family traveling around the country, as baby Hyrah waved to the public from her specially-designed strollers and custom outfits. Samira’s plan had been to create her own children’s clothing line and film Hyrah wearing the outfits that she made. The videos, which were financed by Adam and uploaded on YouTube, would serve as a way to direct people to a website to purchase the clothes.

“Hyrah was just always the perfect TV star. She was always in a great mood, always waving, smiling,” producer Joel Silver told Keith Morrison. “Any time you see any of these videos, this baby was always happy.”

On her first birthday, the couple threw her a lavish Egyptian-themed party at their home, complete with a belly dancer and Egyptian guards who carried the baby in a white and gold bassinet.

“This was like an L.A. Hollywood birthday,” Silver said.

Their lifestyle was over the top in other ways, too. Adam owned at least 80 cars, including a Maserati, Ferrari, Corvette, Hummer, and Mercedes. The inside of their home looked more like a museum than a house with gold tables, throne-like chairs, marble, and exotic stuffed animals throughout.

“Doc could never get enough of buying things, not just cars, but a lot of nice things,” his friend Kendale Lindsey remembered.

It seemed like they were living a dream until Samira was found dead in the family’s backyard pool on February 22, 2014.

Initially it seemed like Samira may have simply slipped and fallen into the pool, possibly while chasing her small dog, who was found in the pool area along with the body.

But when investigators took a closer look, they found the details at the scene didn’t match that theory. Although a hose had been found partially in the water, with one of Samira’s sandals tucked underneath, it seemed staged and investigators questioned how the sandals — which had ankle straps — would have just fallen off.

Leon County Sheriff’s Detective Tony Geraldi said their concerns were confirmed after they received the report from the medical examiner.

“The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head coupled with drowning,” he said.

The medical examiner concluded her death had involved “foul play” after noting that both sides of her skull had suffered damage, an unlikely finding if it had been a fall.  

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Investigators questioned who would have wanted to kill the doting mother of two young daughters.

They were able to quickly rule out handyman Gerald Gardner after surveillance footage from the gated community showed him and his son pulling into the neighborhood just minutes before he called 911 to say he found “a lady laying in the pool.”

Adam’s close friend Kendale Lindsey wasn’t shy about his dislike of Samira, telling investigators in an interrogation room that Samira had never liked her husband spending so much time with Lindsey, who was his frequent casino buddy. Lindsey encouraged Adam to stand up to his wife and not let her dictate how he spent his time.

Samira and Lindsey even fought the last night of her life after she accused him of stealing some clothes that had been left in one of Adam’s cars.

“I joked about it this morning. I said ‘If it was me, they wouldn’t have to be looking for the killer because my hands would be still wrapped around her neck like that right there.’ And that’s the truth,” Lindsey told detectives of the ongoing bad blood between the two.

But Lindsey also had an alibi for the morning of her death.

Detectives decided to take a look at someone who had been even closer to the former model: her husband, Adam.

Adam told investigators that the day before his wife’s death, he was running errands with Samira and their two young children before the couple made love that night. He claimed that Samira told him that night she was “really tired” and needed a break, so he agreed to take the couple’s two children to their beach house three hours away.

According to his account, he left with his daughters that morning around 8 a.m. while Samira was still in bed.

His car was captured on surveillance footage leaving the neighborhood around that time.

But investigators grew suspicious after learning the couple had a tumultuous past and were in the process of getting a divorce.

“He had, well you could say, multiple affairs, multiple girlfriends,” Geraldi said.

Watson told “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” the repeated infidelity was finally the breaking point for Samira. She filed for divorce, gained custody of the couple’s children, and was living separately from Adam.

There had also been past allegations of abuse. Just six months before her death, police were called to the home and Samira was arrested for domestic battery.

“Samira was a volatile person and would attack Adam. We know there was domestic history between the two,” Geraldi said.

They also found surveillance footage from the last night of her life, which seemed to show Adam trying to talk to Samira outside an auto repair shop as she started to drive the car away. The tension was also picked up on their home surveillance footage as he once again tried to talk to her through the car window.

Investigators believed that on the day she died, Adam reached his breaking point and attacked Samira, killing her in the process, before taking the children and heading the beach. He was arrested and charged with her murder.

Adam insisted to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” however, that he would never kill his wife.

“I would never harm my wife,” he said. “I loved her more than anything in this world.”

He said the couple had been trying to reconcile and he had moved back into the family home.

After his arrest, federal agents also raided his office on suspicion of Medicare fraud, alleging that the successful doctor had been overbilling for services he didn’t provide. Although he was investigated, Adam was never charged in connection to the alleged fraud.

At his trial for murder, prosecutors focused on the couple’s volatile relationship, scratches seen on Adam’s face and body shortly after the murder, and the testimony of jailhouse informant Dale Folsom, who told the jury that Adam had admitted killing his wife with a golf club during a heated fight, then putting the body into the pool.

The defense struck back by challenging the prosecution’s timeline.

They pointed to testimony from a neighbor who reported seeing a tall, black woman outside the family’s home around 10:30 a.m. — several hours after Adam had left the property that day with the children.

They also brought in their own forensic pathologist who testified that Samira had likely died after 8 a.m., noting that there was no rigor mortis or wrinkling on her fingers or toes to suggest a lengthy time in the water.

It wasn’t enough to convince the jury and after just 90 minutes of deliberations they convicted Adam of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.