Woman with history of lying to police shot herself in the leg to cover up boyfriend’s murder


Deborah Lynn Frazier appears in a booking photo

Deborah Lynn Frazier appears in a booking photo (Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office).

An Ohio woman who tricked one boyfriend into helping her cover up the murder of another has now admitted to a spate of crimes.

Deborah “Debbie” Lynn Frazier, 36, pleaded guilty on Monday to counts of murder with a firearm specification, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse, according to a press release issued by the Muskingum County Prosecutor’s Office.

The murderess had lived with Thomas Waddell, a “significantly older” man, “in an on-again, off-again relationship for years,” according to a statement of facts prepared by prosecutors.

The two had met at Kroger grocery store where they both previously worked. Waddell had recently retired and was “known for reaching out and helping those who were in need,” prosecutors wrote. Inside their home on Sandhurst Drive in Zanesville — a medium-sized city and the county seat — were Valentine’s Day cards, shared cookbooks, and other “evidence of a life spent together,” according to the state.

“Frazier deserves and will serve a life sentence for her crime,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Litle said. “This plea allows her to accept responsibility and eliminates the risks associated with a trial on the horrific and tabloid-esque facts of this case.”

A death and a wound

On Aug. 9, 2023, after days of planning, Waddell was killed.

Frazier had walked up behind him while he was sitting down in his recliner and shot him in the back of the head with a .22 revolver. His body was then wrapped in trash bags, duct tape, and a comforter.

“She then set about covering up her crime in dramatic, but unsuccessful fashion,” prosecutors wrote.

The next day, the murderess called 911 to falsely report a burglary.

While on the phone with dispatchers, Frazier feigned fright and screamed about two men being in the house, authorities said. She also described a ransacking and arriving home to find the door open.

Dispatchers heard “the sound of a quiet gunshot” and then heard Frazier crying out “that she had been shot,” prosecutors wrote.

Law enforcement then rushed over.

“The officers found Deborah in the entryway to the apartment, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her leg and crying out in pain,” the statement reads. “She stated that masked white men had come out of the apartment and shot her as they left. The entire encounter, she claimed, had occurred while she was on the phone with the police.”

Officers found the revolver on the ground at Frazier’s side. While she was outfitted with a tourniquet and then taken to a nearby hospital, law enforcement found Waddell’s wrapped up body in the bedroom.

Investigators also found reason to doubt her story.

An elaborate plan

“Waddell’s apartment was well-kept and orderly,” the statement goes on. “The ransacking described by Frazier was closer to superficial mess-making. Officers found photographs of Frazier and Waddell on the floor, torn up. Nothing of value appeared to be missing, including numerous firearms, all items likely to be stolen in a home invasion.”

From there, “inconsistencies surrounding the entire situation” piled up, authorities said.

The investigation determined Waddell had been dead for hours before the 911 call was made. Law enforcement canvassed the area for surveillance footage or witness testimony that would help identify the alleged home invaders — instead finding no evidence whatsoever that anyone had fled from the residence on the day in question.

A follow-up interview was conducted where Frazier was asked to submit to testing for gunshot residue. When she learned about the test, her story shifted. The woman additionally claimed “she had reached out and touched the gun that shot her,” prosecutors wrote.

A series of suspicious, telling, and deleted Google searches were later found on Frazier’s phone including: “How to load a gun,” How to load a revolver pistol,” “how to know what ammo your gun uses,” “what does 22 ammo look like,” “worst place to get hit in the head.”

Those searches began on Aug. 5, 2023. The final search that intrigued investigators occurred on Aug. 10, 2023 — a few hours before Frazier made the 911 call: “How long goes [sic] GSR stay on skin.”

Investigators learned the killer had another boyfriend: John Anderson. He “was shocked to discover that his on-again, off-again girlfriend of ten years was living with another man,” prosecutors wrote.

To account for the time spent at Waddell’s, Frazier said he was a dementia patient. This long-running excuse apparently provided enough of an impetus for Frazier to convince Anderson into calling Waddell on the phone pretending to be a bank fraud representative.

“In the text messages Anderson provided, Frazier explained that Waddell was having an Alzheimer’s problem and his granddaughter was trying to explain something to him,” prosecutors wrote.

Frazier, it turned out, had also created a fake fraud representative email account — purporting to be from the same bank she and the victim shared. Investigators learned their joint account had been drawn down to some $2,000, giving police a motive for the slaying.

A kink in the narrative

One set of fingerprints on a TV that had been moved to the floor of Waddell’s bedroom pointed detectives back toward Frazier’s robbery story — at least for awhile. Investigators traced those fingerprints back to David Eugene Grantham, a white man with a history of theft from Florida. But Sunshine State authorities quickly put a kibosh on this theory of the case: Grantham had died in February 2021.

“Grantham had been found dead in his apartment by his roommate Deborah Frazier,” the statement of facts matter-of-factly explains. “His death was ruled an accidental overdose.”

Old lies and test results

Forensic testing determined that only the killer’s DNA was found on various pieces of relevant evidence at the crime scene — including a lone glove found inside Frazier’s backpack; the glove testified positive for both gunshot residue and Frazier’s DNA. Waddell had been shot with his own gun, investigators learned, which had only ever been shot twice: once to kill him; once to shoot Frazier in the leg.

The physical evidence from the crime scene, along with the killer’s own lengthy history of filing false police reports involving “elaborate deceptions,” led authorities to ultimately believe she “acted alone and that many other persons were duped by her manipulation and lies,” prosecutors wrote.

“Her pleas reflect her purposeful killing of Thomas Waddell, by the use of a firearm, her attempt to corrupt the outcome of the investigation by creating false evidence by shooting herself, and her treatment of Thomas Waddell’s body in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities,” prosecutors wrote.

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