Police say a Fresno man confesses to killing his grandmother

December 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A 22-year-old man is in jail, accused of strangling his grandmother. His family said severe mental illness is to blame.

Fresno police detectives said their suspect confessed to killing his grandmother. 78-year-old Joyce Frazier was found dead in her East Central Fresno home Tuesday. An autopsy shows she was strangled.

Frazier's grandson, 22-year-old Travis Fendley is in the Fresno County Jail facing murder charges.

Police said he left the crime scene, stole his mother's car then crashed it in Merced County, where he was taken into custody.

Crime scene investigators spent hours looking for evidence inside the home. But detectives said the case wasn't considered a homicide until the results of Frazier's autopsy and a confession from her grandson Travis Fendley.

"I know it wasn't our Travis that did that, it was his mental illness," said Fendley's aunt, Becky Alford.

Alford said her nephew was diagnosed with his mental illnesses four years ago. She said Fendley's condition deteriorated quickly over the past six months and he became violent.

Police said in addition to killing Frazier, Fendley plotted to kill his mother and Alford. But he left the scene before they arrived.

"The reason he left, he was waiting to kill me and I was running late, he started getting suspicious that I would bring the police with me," Alford said.

Fendley's criminal record shows no charges for violent crime. Although his attorney Charles Magill said he is on probation for a 2010 incident when he stole Frazier's car.

Magill said Fendley was in and out of jail and treatment in the past few months. Each time he was arrested, Magill said, he was released early due to overcrowding.

"When he would get incarcerated they wouldn't medicate him," Magill said. "They would just release him. Each time this has happened in the last six months, he's gotten worse."

Magill was hired by Frazier. He said she wanted him to help her grandson get help for his mental illness. But the family said Fendley refused the help and never showed up to court. Now, this family is left heartbroken and wondering why they never got the help they desperately asked for.

"What I'm hoping comes of this is that they put him in a place to get help for his mental illness," Alford said. "I don't want him in a regular prison."

The family said Frazier loved her grandson but was terrified of him. They even set phone notifications to alert them when he was released from jail.

Fendley has not yet been formally charged with his grandmother's murder.


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