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Jennifer TRAYERS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Love triangle
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 4, 2010
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: Navy Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Trayers, 41 (her husband)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: San Diego County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to 16 years to life in prison on March 9, 2012

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Wife sentenced in killing of Navy doctor

By Dana Littlefield -

March 9, 2012

— Calling the crime an “irrevocable tragedy,” a judge sentenced a woman Friday to 16 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing her Navy doctor husband more than a year ago.

Jennifer Trayers, 43, was convicted of second-degree murder last month in connection with the death of Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Trayers III, who was killed in their North Park home. He was stabbed more than 10 times, including twice in his chest and eight times in his back.

During the sentencing hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber noted that the couple had problems in their 18-year marriage but had found a way to work through them in the past and move on.

But on Dec. 4, 2010, Jennifer Trayers made a decision that changed everything when she picked up a knife and ended her 41-year-old husband's life, Weber said.

The killing illustrates “the irrevocable tragedy of domestic violence,” the judge said.

Violence, she added, can never be a solution to marital disputes.

“You lost the man that you loved more than life itself,” Weber told the defendant, who sat quietly in the courtroom with her lawyers.

The judge said a letter submitted to the court by the victim’s mother was particularly moving. In it, the mother described how she had not only lost her son, but a daughter-in-law who had been part of her life for nearly two decades.

“How can I just turn off the feelings that I’ve had all these years?” Carol Trayers said in the letter, which the judge read aloud. “I will grieve for both of them all of my life.”

Jennifer Trayers did not make a statement during the hearing. Her lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, said Trayers was “extremely remorseful” for what she had done, a sentiment she wanted to be expressed to her husband’s family in particular.

Armstrong said it was heartbreaking to see Trayers be sentenced to prison for such a long time, possibly the rest of her life. He said he wished California’s sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder were more flexible as they are in other states.

“I just think that people should be treated a little differently for their background and the reason that they kill,” he said.

Armstrong argued in trial that Trayers should be convicted of manslaughter instead of murder, because she lost control during a heated confrontation with her husband while trying to talk to him about his affair with another woman.

Deputy District Attorney Fiona Khalil argued that Trayers committed first-degree murder. The prosecutor said Trayers had collected evidence of the affair — emails and other electronic communications — for months, and waited to stab her husband when he was in bed and groggy from taking a sleeping pill.

The jury decided on second-degree murder, meaning they believed the killing was intentional but not premeditated.

The victim’s sister, Cathie Trayers Mislan, wrote in a letter read in court by a friend that her brother had dedicated his life to his country and to saving others. She said she would miss his laugh and his positive outlook on life.

“I cannot forgive Jennifer for taking the life of my brother,” she said.


Woman is convicted of murdering her husband, a Navy doctor

Los Angeles Times

February 8, 2012

A San Diego woman was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing her husband, a Navy doctor, allegedly in rage because he was having an extramarital affair.

Jennifer Trayers, 43, was convicted in the December 2010 stabbing of Navy Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Trayers, 41, who was on the staff at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The couple had been married for 18 years.

Prosecutors said Trayers waited until her husband was in bed and groggy from cold medication before she stabbed him 11 times in the back, head and chest with a knife. Her defense attorney said Trayers "snapped" because of the pain of finding her husband was having an affair.

The San Diego County Superior Court jury deliberated for three days. Trayers faces a maximum sentence of 16 years to life in prison when sentenced next month, according to Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis.

The jury found Trayers not guilty of first-degree murder which could have brought a life sentence in prison. At issue was prosecutors' assertion that Trayers planned the murder in advance.


Navy Doc's Wife: Intended to Harm Herself

Trayers faced 26 years to life in prison if found guilty

By Gene Cubbison and Sarah Grieco -

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012

Jennifer Trayers testified on Tuesday that her Navy doctor husband died during a struggle over a knife that she intended to use on herself.

Trayers said she approached her husband of 18 years, Fred, in their bedroom of their North Park condominium with a knife on Dec. 4, 2010.

She said she was hoping to get him talking about his ongoing affair by cutting her wrist, then poking the knife in her chest.

She testified Fred said, "Let me help you."

“He's never acted this way before and I didn't know -- it was so unlike Fred, this behavior,” Trayers said. “I didn't know what would happen if he got hold of the knife."

It happened in the couple's North Park condominium, where Trayers says she was obsessed over Fred's plans to leave her for another Navy doctor.

The knife that inflicted the fatal wounds: a military “Ka-Bar” that Trayers testified Fred offered her, after laughing at her attempts to cut herself with a butcher knife from the kitchen.

Trayers insisted she never planned to kill Fred, whose emails and text communications with the other woman she'd intercepted using a spyware program.

She'd written the woman, who testified last week as a prosecution witness, saying in essence, she'd seen Fred for the last time.

During the struggle for the knife, Trayers said she was cut and stabbed numerous times before Fred reached for, and dropped, the butcher knife.

"What happened then?" asked defense attorney Kerry Armstrong.

"I stabbed him in the back of the neck," Trayers replied.

"And when you stabbed him, what were you thinking?" Armstrong inquired a short time later.

"I was just so angry and mad and I didn't know what was going on, what was happening, why he was acting the way he was acting," Trayers said. "I didn't know what was going to happen.

Trayers testified she "blacked out" after the first stab, and was out of it for many hours later.

Fred's body was found with nine more stab wounds.

Earlier in the week Trayers admitted she was having an affair as well.

Closing statements begin Wednesday -- Trayers faces 26 years to life in prison if found guilty.


Navy Doc's Wife Was Also Having An Affair

The Navy wife who defense attorneys maintain killed her husband in a suicidal rage suffered about three dozen superficial stab wounds one expert testified Monday.

By R. Stickney and Paul Krueger -

January 30, 2012

Judge Joan Weber declined to dismiss a murder charge against a woman accused of stabbing her Navy doctor husband to death in his bed in December, 2010.

Prosecutors argue Jennifer Trayers' planned the murder, after learning of her husband's extra-marital affair with a fellow Navy doctor.

The prosecution finished its initial presentation of witnesses this afternoon, at which time Trayer's attorney asked the judge to dismiss count one of the complaint.

Attorney Kerry Armstrong said there is insufficient evidence of "premeditation and deliberation" and that the killing was, if anything, an act of "uncontrollable rage," or manslaughter.

But the defense argued that Jennifer Trayers wrote at least one letter before she killed her husband, Fred Trayers. In the letter, she revealed she knew he was having an affair, and that the jury could find that she planned to kill him.

The prosecutor also said that the evidence shows that Jennifer Trayers had "plenty of time" to plan the murder.

The judge sided with the prosecution, ruling that the jury should decide on the murder charge.

Trayers says she became suspicious that her husband was cheating on her in late 2002, eight years before she allegedly stabbed him to death.

She testified that Fred Trayers was ignoring her and sending emails and instant messages, and talking on the phone, with a woman he had met at his work.

She was also having an affair with a man with whom she worked. In late 2007 Trayers said she saw an email her husband wrote to the woman he had earlier had an affair with. It included the word "passionate".

She said she was hurt by that and considered leaving him, but stayed with him and their relationship remained good. She said she never had another affair.

Until August, 2010, she said the relationship remained "good". But by September 2010, she became suspicious that he was having another affair, with a woman he met on the hospital ship. She said her mental state changed, she was anxious and had trouble sleeping and was losing weight.

In addition to her testimony, defense attorneys discussed Trayers medical state on the night of Dec. 6, 2010. She required surgery and additional blood when she was brought to the hospital that night.

However, her wounds didn’t go inside the body and could be compared to paper cuts a forensic pathologist testified in a downtown courtroom Monday.

Defense attorneys say their client never planned to kill her husband and was trying to kill herself.

Forensic pathologist Christina Stanley testified that when she examined Jennifer Trayers in the hospital, there were marks on her neck, wrists and over her heart but many of them appeared more like scratches than stab wounds.

Michael Sise, M.D., a vascular surgeon with Scripps Health, also testified Jennifer Trayers' wounds were superficial. Sise said he operated on the defendant and found one laceration in an abdomen muscle. He also placed a chest tube on the right side of her chest because of a collapsed lung.


Mistress of Navy Doctor Stabbed to Death by Wife Speaks Out

By Jeannette Rogers -

January 26, 2012

The physician mistress of a Navy doctor who was allegedly stabbed to death by his widow testified at her trial that he said he planned to leave his wife for her, but the mistress broke off their relationship when she was told that his wife was pregnant.

Dr. Danielle Robbins was 30 when she met and fell in love with Navy Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Trayers, a married ER doctor, while they were both working aboard the USS Mercy in 2010.  Although Trayers had been married for nearly 20 years, Robbins continued the relationship.

“Every time we would talk and communicate I would just feel more connected,” Robbins said in court Wednesday.  “He said [he and his wife] had issues, and he was unhappy for a long time.”

Robbins says she ended the relationship when Trayers’ wife, Jennifer Trayers, told her husband she was pregnant.  But the defense said Frederick Trayers was lying, and alleges that when Jennifer Trayers found out about the affair in December 2010 she stabbed her husband eight times in the back and through the heart at their San Diego home, killing him.

Prosecutors said that the evidence will show that Jennifer Trayers waited to catch him unprepared, that she armed herself with the knife and that she attacked him with planned marksmanship.

Police responding to the scene found Frederick Trayers curled up in his bed, and Jennifer Trayers lying nearby with apparently self-inflicted stab wounds.

While Jennifer Trayer’s lawyer does not deny his client killed her husband, he says she lost control while they were wrestling over a knife.

Frederick Trayers and his wife both had a history of infidelity and were going to counseling, according to ABC News’ San Diego affiliate 10 News.

In court, Robbins recounted secret meetings including jogs on the beach and hikes, and bar-hopping the night of Jennifer Trayer’s birthday, according to 10 News, which reported that Jennifer Trayers sent Robbins an eight-page email telling her, “My husband is not going to be yours."


The Love Triangle Murder of Lt. Commander Fred Trayers

By Bryan Lavietes

A Romantic Beginning

Jennifer and Fred Trayers had a cute story of how they first met. In February 1991, Jennifer was working as a travel agent at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana when Fred -- an avid outdoorsman from Peabody, Massachusetts, now a student at Notre Dame -- came in to book a trip to Glacier. Fred was smitten with Jennifer and started making frequent trips to the office to ask her out. "I thought he was a geek," Jennifer has said. But Fred's persistence paid off -- "I said if you stop coming around to my work, I'll go on a date with you," Jennifer recalled.

The two soon became a couple and grew closer, even as Fred -- who had joined the military before dating Jennifer -- began Navy flight school in Pensacola, Florida. Fred learned he would be stationed in San Diego, and the couple decided to marry before he moved. So in December 1992, they met up in Denver, Colorado and eloped. In November 1993, Fred and Jennifer Trayers renewed their vows in South Bend to celebrate their marriage with friends and family.

Jennifer happily assumed the role of military wife, moving often as the Navy transferred her husband. Jennifer loved traveling and enjoyed her time with Fred. One day they hoped to start a family, but kept putting it off for "when we move" or "at the next duty station." When Fred decided he wanted to become a doctor, they put their family plans on hold again while Fred attended medical school in Florida.

The Marriage is Tested

The Trayers lived in Fort Lauderdale from 2001 until 2005 so Fred could attend medical school at Nova Southeastern University. Jennifer took a job at a timeshare company to earn money for the couple's living expenses. Fred began spending time with Danielle Merket, a female psychologist who did research with Navy pilots. Danielle became a friend to both Fred and Jennifer, who was happy to meet a work colleague of her husband's. However, as Fred grew closer with Danielle (Jennifer stayed behind when the two went on a week-long hiking trip with another friend,) Jennifer began to suspect her husband was having an affair. When Danielle came to visit the Trayers for Thanksgiving in 2002, Jennifer noticed a tenseness between the three of them. Although Jennifer never confronted her husband about her suspicions, she noted that Danielle and Fred had stopped communicating by the Spring of 2003.

Jennifer's distress over her husband's suspected affair helped drive her to an affair of her own. In early 2003, Jennifer became romantically involved with Orvill Webb, a co-worker at the timeshare company. Although both were married, they began a sexual relationship that went on for a few months until Webb's wife discovered the affair and called Fred Trayers. Jennifer didn't deny the trysts and offered to leave Fred if that's what he wanted -- but recounted that Fred blamed himself for ignoring her.

Although the next two years in Florida were strained, the Trayers never resorted to violence or even loud arguments. In 2004, Jennifer even began seeing Webb again because she thought Fred was still in love with Merket. Still, when Fred finished medical school in mid-2005, the couple agreed to forget everything that had happened in Florida. The Navy would next station Lt. Commander Fred Trayers at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. The Trayers would start fresh on the west coast.

The Other Woman

Once out of medical school, Fred resumed his regular salary, and the Trayers' were able to buy a home in Oceanside in 2005. Jennifer was happy at her job at Pacific Western Bank. The couple renewed their wedding vows in 2007 to mark their 15th anniversary. By 2010, Fred was sent to work at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, so the couple moved to a condominium in the San Diego neighborhood of North Park. Fred was popular with his colleagues in emergency medicine, many of whom would later say they had never seen him lose his temper or act aggressively.

Jennifer Trayers thought they had have emerged from the past with their relationship intact. But in mid-2010, Fred went on a humanitarian mission to the South Pacific and set off a chain of events that would spell doom for the Trayers' marriage and their lives.

On August 5, 2010, Fred Trayers flew to Australia to board the USNS Mercy, a floating hospital tasked with sailing through Timor, Indonesia, and Guam on a Naval humanitarian mission. It was on the Mercy that Trayers met Ensign Danielle Robins, a pretty young Navy doctor over 10 years his junior. Over the course of the trip, the two became close -- they even shared a romantic kiss just before Trayers was to return home. For Ens. Robins, this was a precarious situation because a Navy officer caught committing adultery is subject to sanctions from demotion up to discharge.

The two kept in touch via e-mail and text -- and as fate would have it, Robins was soon transferred to San Diego after her stint on the Mercy. With Robins living in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters at the Balboa Navy base, she began seeing Trayers more often. By October 2010, the two were discussing a possible future together. Still, Fred Trayers was conflicted about his marriage, and seemingly unsure if he wanted to end it. That ambivalence was a major theme of his e-mail correspondence with Robins.

On October 16, Robins wrote an e-mail to Fred that was "addressed" to Fred's wife about his great qualities and their unhappy marriage. The e-mail had the salutation "Dear Mrs. Wonderful" -- Robins wrote: "I apologize for the presumptiveness in telling you all about the man to whom you are married... you have daily access to an amazing person... One day they will be gone and the only thing you will be left with is wondering why you didn't appreciate what you had at the time. I guess the point of this stupid letter is to remind you how lucky you are and to ask that if you can't see that, you should let him go."

Trust is Broken

When Dr. Fred Trayers returned from the South Pacific in early September 2010, his wife noticed he was texting more often than normal -- Jennifer had a gut feeling that something was wrong. They started to see a marriage counselor, and although Fred denied he was having an affair, Jennifer's anxiety continued; she lost weight and battled insomnia.

In October 2010, Jennifer Trayers installed tracking software on their home computer, so she could see what her husband was up to. She started to amass a collection of e-mails between Fred and Danielle Robins. One day in early October, Jennifer missed a day of work because she hadn't been eating or sleeping and was surprised when Fred came home early from a "workout" -- he was sweaty and wasn't wearing his wedding ring. Jennifer recalled Fred didn't make time to talk to her until after he showered. Whatever suspicions Jennifer had were confirmed in mid-October when her tracking software found Robins' "Dear Mrs. Wonderful" e-mail. Although Trayers never told her husband that she had seen the emails (because there was no way she could have known without admitting to having installed spyware), she repeatedly quizzed Fred about whether or not he was having an affair. Fred consistently denied it, and told her over and over again that he would never leave her.

On the evening of Friday, December 3, 2010, Dr. Trayers left his wife at home to go to a work Christmas party and then an overnight shift at the hospital. He would never be seen alive again.

Strange Communications

On Saturday December 4, 2010, Deborah Smith texted her daughter Jennifer Trayers at roughly 9 am. No response. Smith called Trayers later that morning and the two spoke briefly. Smith recalled that Jennifer sounded tired -- she had stayed up waiting for Fred to come home from the overnight shift. This was not unusual, Smith thought. Jennifer sounded groggy -- not distressed. Smith had no idea anything was amiss.

Danielle Robins also corresponded with Jennifer Trayers the morning of December 4, 2010 -- this would be the only time Jennifer ever reached out to her, and it was far from typical. At 8:23 am, Jennifer Trayers used her husband's Gmail account to send a long missive castigating Robins for her relationship with Fred, and it showed a knowledge of Robins' previous communications with Fred Trayers. The e-mail was titled "Mr. Wonderful" and it began "Dear Little Miss Grass is Not Greener on My Side" before rambling on for 8 pages. In the email, Jennifer Trayers enumerates her husband's good and bad qualities -- an inventory she knew well after 18 years of marriage -- and tells Robins that their marriage was strong before she came into the picture: "We were getting along well and trying hard to make it work. Then you come along and all of a sudden he had been miserable in this relationship for years and has wanted to end it a long time ago."

Jennifer Trayers' email took a desperate turn, describing their sexual activities during the time of Fred and Danielle Robins' affair. And then came a passage written in the past-tense that prosecutors would seize on as evidence of premeditation: " I will have the joy of knowing I got to spend quality time with him. I got to travel with him. I got to sleep with him... I got to hear him say 'I love you' softly in my ear while he's hugging me. I was the last person he was with." The final words of the e-mail were emphatic: You should feel guilty now! You just ruined the marriage of a wonderful man! The career of a wonderful man! The future of a wonderful man! Sincerely, Mrs. Wonderful".

As it turned out, the future of both Fred and his wife would soon be damaged forever.

Saturday Morning

According to Jennifer Trayers, she slept little Friday night as her husband worked the overnight shift at Balboa Medical Center. When he got home around 7:15 am on Saturday morning, Jennifer said she was desperate to speak to him about their relationship and about their future. Fred told her he was tired and that he wanted to sleep before having their serious talk. As he took a shower, Jennifer noticed Fred had left his Gmail account up on the computer. Jennifer said it was at that time she sent her e-mail to Danielle Robins.

Having tipped her hand about the other woman, Jennifer knew it wouldn't be long before Fred realized he had been found out. Fred continued to put off their conversation, but Jennifer wouldn't be denied. She grabbed a butcher knife and got on the bed -- then she asked Fred how she should best slit her wrist. Jennifer expected Fred to protect her and then talk to her, but he just started laughing and exclaimed he had a better knife; he took a K-Bar knife out of his nightstand drawer and gave it to her. Surprised and enraged, Jennifer began poking her own chest with the knife in order to draw a reaction from her husband.

At this point, Fred reached for the knife and the two struggled, causing a few more incisions to Jennifer's chest in the process. Jennifer said she was feeling "hot and angry" in a way she had never felt before. When Fred reached over to his nightstand, Jennifer assumed he was reaching for the butcher knife, and she stabbed him in the back of the neck. The last words Jennifer remembers Fred uttering were "let me help you." After that, Jennifer says, she blacked out.

All in all, Jennifer Trayers would stab her husband 11 times.

Police Arrive at a Grisly Scene

When Fred Trayers missed his hospital shifts on Saturday and Sunday without so much as a phone call, his colleagues called law enforcement. Police arrived at 3750 Grim Avenue Apt. 2 at about 6:20 am on Monday, December 6, 2010 -- what they found shocked them. Fred Trayers was dead, his body curled up on the floor next to the bed, still entangled in bedding. He was stabbed about the neck and back -- knife wounds had perforated his heart, lung and kidneys. The intense struggle had saturated the bedding with blood -- and blood drops were found on the headboard and the wall above the bed as well. Fred Trayers suffered multiple defensive wounds on his hands and forearms. A coroner would later find the prescription sleep aid Zolpidem in Fred's blood. Toxicologists later said the amount of drugs in Trayers' system would have relaxed him, but would not have left him incapacitated.

Jennifer Trayers was still alive, but seriously injured. She was transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital where doctors found approximately 36 sharp force injuries to her chest area -- including a cut artery in her upper gastric area and a partially-collapsed right lung. Jennifer had lost a lot of blood, and might have died in hours had police not arrived when they did.

As the condo was locked and there was no sign of forced entry, police quickly determined that the Trayers were victim and perpetrator. Who was who became clearer when investigators found four manila envelopes stacked neatly on the kitchen counter -- the envelopes contained printed e-mails and text messages between Fred Trayers and Danielle Robins.

Jennifer Trayers would soon be charged with the murder of her husband. She was arraigned in her hospital bed, and held on $2 million bail.

Trial & Verdict

The murder trial of Jennifer Trayers began on January 23, 2012 in downtown San Diego. Prosecutor Fiona Khalil methodically laid out the evidence -- citing Trayers' final e-mail to Robins which stated "I was the last person he was with" as proof that the killing was premeditated. Unsurprisingly, defense attorney Kerry Armstrong claimed his client had been put through an "emotional roller coaster" by her philandering husband, and that the killing was a spontaneous response born of Jennifer's sleeplessness and anxiety. He argued his client was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.

The two-week trial featured Danielle Robins calmly describing the e-mails sent during her relationship with the deceased (and denying she and Dr. Fred Trayers ever had sexual intercourse). But the main event came during the defense case when Jennifer Trayers took the stand in her own defense. Over two days of testimony, she often lost control of her emotions while discussing her doomed relationship with her husband.

On February 8, 2012, after roughly three days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict. They found Jennifer Trayers guilty of second-degree murder for the killing of Dr. Fred Trayers -- a middle ground between the first-degree charge urged by the prosecution and the voluntary manslaughter finding championed by defense attorneys. Jennifer Trayers betrayed no emotion as the verdict was read. Afterward, her attorney Kerry Armstrong told reporters, "She feels absolutely horrible about what happened to her husband...she still loves him."

Jennifer Trayers was called back to that San Diego courtroom on March 9, 2012 for sentencing by Judge Joan Weber. Before passing down her decision, Judge Weber spoke about "the irrevocable tragedy of domestic violence," telling Trayers that violence was no way to settle marital troubles: "You lost the man you loved more than life itself," Weber told Trayers before sentencing the placid defendant to spend no less than sixteen years and as much as life in prison for the killing of her husband.

Although Jennifer made no statement at sentencing, several of Fred's family members wrote letters to the court. Fred's mother Carol Trayers wrote of the anguish of losing her son and the daughter-in-law who she had loved for almost 20 years: "How can I just turn off the feelings that I've had all these years," her letter read, "I will grieve for both of them all of my life."



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