Two things are often said when a couple divorces...... You are not divorcing the same person you married and there are generally three sides to every story. Obviously not every marriage ends in divorce but I would gander to guess there are plenty of us here who can attest to these statements pertaining to their own divorce, no matter how vicious or not-so vicious it was. Of course when you marry someone the majority of us think it will be for life and we at least at the time believe we love the other person. By the time a divorce comes around those feelings have faded for at least one of the people and by the time it is over the majority of all of the parties are left asking themselves what they were thinking in the first place. When you add children and finances in the mix it makes things even worse. As far as the statement about three sides to a story, it is often said there is “his side, her side, and the truth.” That does not mean that one of the other sides does not have fractions of truth in them but when it comes down to it, it is about perception and opinions.
Robert Fratta married his wife, Farah Baquer in 1983. By March of 1992 when she filed for divorce the couple had three children, two boys and a girl. They lived in the Houston Texas area. Whether Robert Fratta was an actual police officer for the nearby Missouri City department or not is a bit unclear. It is often described as this in my research but then there were those articles that state he was what was called a Public Safety Officer and cross trained on police and firefighting policies. I did a search on jut what a Public Safety Officer was, as I had never heard that term but when I was done it was still less than clear. To be fair it sounded little more than a glorified security guard with some training. To say he was a police officer, who would later gain fame not just for orchestrating the murder of his estranged wife, but also for alleged perverse sexual pleasure, makes the case sound even more sensational in my opinion.
In her filing of the divorce Farah stated physical, sexual and emotional abuse as her reasons behind her wanting to divorce her husband. Whether her allegations of his sexual perversions came out in the filing and the course of the divorce or in his later trial through witnesses is unclear. I was unable to determine exactly why the divorce was taking as long as it was to finalize. As I stated, research says she filed in March of 1993 but they were not scheduled to have a final hearing on the case until the middle of November in 1994. Most information states that this was due to a custody dispute. It appears that Robert did not want the divorce when she filed a few of the delays were caused by this and his thinking he could “win” her back. In the beginning it seems that Robert was not fighting for custody of the children but as time went on and he seemingly was not getting his way in getting Farah to drop the divorce he became more bitter. As time went on Robert then began fighting for custody himself and that seems to be the cause of the ultimate delay. Most claim that Robert's fight for custody had less to do with having his children than it did about getting back at Farah and not having to pay her child support. Over the course of time he had been required to pay her support and it became a bitter thorn to him. On top of this there were the issues of his supposed sexual appetite as it may and many would later say that Robert was angry that those secrets were beginning to emerge.
On November 9, 1994 Robert had dinner with his three children. By now their oldest, Bradley, was seven years old. Some reports state that Farah was also at this dinner. After, Robert took the children to a Wednesday night church service where there were several activities going on. For her part Farah went to the beauty salon to have her hair cut. Farah would return to her home around 8:00 that evening. Neighbors would report that soon after they heard a gunshot and just after looking outside they heard another and saw Farah fall to her garage floor. Neighbors would also report soon after seeing an unknown man next to Farah's home and within a few short minutes a car came by and picked the man up. When officers arrived at the scene they almost immediately knew that this was not a case of robbery. Farah's purse had seemingly been left alone and her car was obviously seen there. Within about thirty minutes Robert Fratta would arrive at the scene with his children in tow.
Investigators would almost immediately suspect that Robert Fratta was involved some how in the death of his estranged wife but even after a fourteen hour interview just after her death they had nothing to prove the hunch. They would say that his demeanor at the crime scene was “odd” as he had showed no emotion about the death of his wife, the mother of his children, but that he had all but said he wanted to “speed things along” in a way in which made investigators uncomfortable. After speaking to many people their suspicions were not lessened. People from the church stated that instead of showing his normal demeanor of confidence and arrogance that Fratta had appeared tense and that his pager repeatedly gone off (apparently to excess or at least more than others had noticed before) and that he would get up and make calls in the church office. Still officers had nothing on him, or on anyone else. All they knew was that Farah Fratta had returned home and had been ambushed in her own garage where she had been shot twice by a .38 caliber gun in the head and had died.
Then on March 1, 1995 a man named Howard Paul Guidry was arrested for robbing a local bank. He had a .38 caliber pistol on him but nothing seemed special about it. A few days later investigators received a call from a woman named Mary Gipp and the case was blown open. Mary Gipp would tell investigators that her boyfriend, Joseph Prystash and her neighbor, Howard Guidry had conspired with Robert Fratta to kill his wife. Gipp knew the Fratta's from a gym that they all frequented. According to Gipp she had been informed a few days before Farah's death of the plot and on the night of the murder Prystash had returned home and told her some details, including that Guidry had committed the murder while he drove him there and picked him up after.
Investigators began with talking to Guidry who confessed to the crime saying that Fratta had “hired” Prystash who in turn had brought him in on the deal. Whether Guidry was expecting $1,000 immediately and possibly more money later seems to be a bit of a dispute. Some research stated that he had agreed to the murder for $1,000 while others indicate it was for $3,000. Prystash was also supposed to received a Jeep that Fratta owned for his part, and possibly a few thousand dollars on top of that. Investigators then talked to Prystash who also confessed with nearly the exact story as Guidry. A background check was then done on the .38 that Guidry had in his possession and it was found that the gun had initially been purchased in 1982 to Robert Fratta. In April of 1995 Robert Fratta was arrested and charged with capital murder.
All three men would go to trial separately, be convicted and sentenced to death but both Guidry and Fratta would receive second trials. They would both again be convicted and sentenced to death once more. The reason for Fratta's conviction being overturned was due to the fact that although neither Guidry or Prystash testified against him at his trial one of the investigators on the case had referenced their confessions in which they had implicated Fratta. Since Fratta had the right to face his accusers the courts ruled this had been improper. The courts also found that some of Mary Gipp's testimony was improper as she related second hand information from Prystash.
In many courts simply the word of a co-conspirator is not enough to garner a conviction and even still few cases are fought on the sole grounds of a person's word but more in the combination of information available. This case was no different. Some information stated that the gun found in Guidry's possession was not conclusively found to be the murder weapon. It seemed through Gipp's testimony that Prystash told her that Guidry was to get rid of the weapon in a lake but apparently that did not happen. So what did they have on Fratta that could not or did not enter the confessions of the alleged co-conspirators?
Probably the first, and largest thing, they had was a multitude of people including co-workers, gym members and friends who testified that Robert often spoke of killing or having Farah killed. It appears that everywhere he went Robert was allegedly talking about killing her, wanting her killed or asking people if they knew anyone who would do it for him. Later those people would claim that they did not warn Farah or contact the authorities because they did not think Robert was serious. Investigators also had phone records not just proving what Guidry and Prystash stated in their confessions as to phone's that they used but also connected the two to Robert Fratta presumably even at the time of the murder. Prosecutors would also claim that just a few days before the murder Robert Fratta obtained a life insurance policy on Farah in the amount of nearly $250,000. This gave them an alternative motive to present to a jury. Despite all of this it appears that the defense in both of Robert's trials focused on attempting to discredit Mary Gipp. For her part Mary was initially charged with tampering of evidence but those were later dropped when she agreed to testify against Robert at his trial. She testified at both.
Howard Guidry and Joseph Prystash remain on Texas' death row. In January of 2016 Robert Fratta committed suicide in prison. He left a note claiming that he did so because information that had presented at his trials pertaining to a supposed sexual perversion he had, caused prisoners to taunt him. Until now I have not mentioned this so call perversion but it related to Robert supposedly liking to be defecated on. Reports of this apparently came out from friends of Farah who claimed she had related this as well as from prostitutes Robert had relations with. In the note Robert claimed that it was this perversion that, although he claimed was false, that had gotten out and that he had been repeatedly pinned down by fellow inmates and defecated on. The prison stated they had no reports related to this. Most believe his suicide was simply his way out of prison since the only other way would have been a gurney after execution.
The three Fratta children were raised by Farah's parents and took on her maiden name. The oldest son, Bradley, who was seven when his mother was murdered, testified at his father's second trial in 2009.