Protection order missing in murder-suicide case

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City officials say it was returned; Nelson circuit clerk, sheriff's office say they don't have it


Nelson County officials say they don’t have the emergency protection order that officials here insist was returned to them in the case of an apparent murder-suicide involving a 21-month-old child.

The child, Cole Lance Frazier, was apparently shot and killed by his father, Timothy L. Frazier, 28, on May 26 in the Nelson County city of Bardstown. The father then turned a gun on himself.

The child’s mother, Candice Dempsey of Lawrenceburg, had the child taken away from her May 14 when Lt. Chris Atkins of the Lawrenceburg Police Department executed the EPO, which the father requested and was granted by a Nelson County judge.

The section of the EPO that would grant temporary custody to the father was not marked by the judge, however, touching off a firestorm of controversy that includes Dempsey’s attorney, Marie Hellard, considering a lawsuit against the police.

Although copies of the EPO were distributed during a news conference by Hellard and obtained by numerous media outlets, the actual document that was signed by Atkins and returned to Nelson County is apparently missing.

Both the Nelson County Sheriff’s and Circuit Clerk’s offices said Monday that they have not received the EPO, which Robert Myles, the city of Lawrenceburg’s attorney said has been returned.

Myles said he spoke with Police Chief Tommy Burris and Atkins and he was assured that the EPO was returned.

“It is normal procedure that once the document is served, we send it back by fax and send the original by mail,” Myles said. “The big problem is we don’t keep a copy.”

Nelson County Circuit Court Clerk Diane Thompson said once the judge in Nelson County issued the EPO, it would have been sent to Lawrenceburg police by the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department. Lawrenceburg would serve the EPO, sign it and send it back to the sheriff’s office, which would return it to the clerk’s office.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said a captain there told her that he had not seen the document.

Asked if it could be there and just not yet returned to the Circuit Court clerk, she said, “No, there’s where they keep the records. It’s automatic.”

Thompson, the Circuit Court clerk, said she had wondered why the EPO was not returned.

“You’re the first to ask that question,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of questions from the media, but not that one.”

When asked if her office had any contact with Lawrenceburg police leading up to Atkins removing the child from the mother’s custody, Thompson said not that she was aware of.

Hellard, Dempsey’s attorney, said Tuesday morning that Dempsey was given a copy of the EPO that included Atkins’ signature, but no other information differed from what was on the original EPO.

Myles, the city’s attorney, steadfastly stood behind Atkins last week, saying in a written statement the city “stands fully and unequivocally in support of its personnel.”

Earlier in the week, City Clerk Robbie Hume confirmed that it was Atkins who served the EPO, and that he remains on active duty with the police department.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.