Family in 'utter shock' after Eastpointe triple slaying

Holly Fournier, George Hunter and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Eastpointe — A man who is in police custody in connection with the slayings of his wife and two young children was ordered to undergo counseling six years ago after being arrested for domestic violence against his brother, according to police and court records.

He is being held in the Eastpointe jail and if he's charged by the county prosecutor in connection to the deaths of Christie Fradeneck, 37, and their two children, Timothy, 8, and Celeste, 2, he could be arraigned Wednesday, police said.

Christie Fradeneck and her daughter Celeste

The mother and two children were found dead Monday night in their home in the 22000 block of Cushing, Eastpointe Public Safety Director John McNeilance said. He would not comment on the cause of death, saying that will be decided by the Macomb County Medical Examiner.

The 38-year-old husband, who The Detroit News is not naming because he hasn't been charged with a crime, was at home and surrendered to police without incident. Lt. Neil Childs told the Associated Press police weren't looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Meanwhile, Fradeneck's family issued a statement to Detroit TV stations saying "this is a very close and loving family and their utter shock and grief cannot even be put into words." The statement went on to say there was no history of domestic violence in the home and the family is cooperating fully with police.

"The family is hopeful that the justice system will prevail and the person responsible for this will be punished to the fullest extent of the law," the statement read.

Celeste and Timothy

Friends set up a page which has raised more than $10,000 in six hours to cover funeral expenses. The person who created the page is identified as Courtney Zanni, who said on the page: "It is with deepest sympathy to create this account to help with funeral costs for our beloved Christie, Tre(y), and Celeste ... who were taken from us too soon!"

Almost to the day six years ago, the husband was arrested on a domestic violence charge, according to court records. The incident involved his brother, McNeilance said.

Court records show he was arrested by Eastpointe police for domestic violence April 13, 2009. He was charged with domestic violence/domestic assault and pleaded not guilty during his April 13, 2009, arraignment before 38th District Judge Carl Gerds III. He posted $5,000 bond.

During a pre-trial hearing May 1, 2009, the man cut a deal for the reduced charge of disorderly person, court records show. He was fined $403, and given one year of probation.

As part of the man's probation terms, he had to undergo therapy, avoid being arrested again, "no similar conduct" and "no assaultive behavior," court records show. His case was dismissed without prejudice April 30, 2010, after he successfully completed the probation, according to court records. A dismissal without prejudice means the case can be retried.

Officers were sent to the home about 7 p.m. Monday to "check on the welfare of the residents," Lt. Dave Ernatt said. Childs said the woman's sister called police after she couldn't reach her sister, stopped by the home and saw cars in the driveway but didn't get an answer at the door.

The couple filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January 2011 after experiencing financial problems, according to court documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District.

Christie Fradeneck owned a Clinton Township salon called Blonde Ambition and her husband had been unemployed for several years, according to the bankruptcy filing.

Michigan State and Eastpointe police stand in front of a crime scene on Cushing in Eastpointe on Monday.

'Always a good family'

Neighbor Janet Babel, 53, said Fradeneck grew up a block north from where she was killed and the suspect was raised in his grandmother's home directly across the street from the crime scene. The suspect's sister lives in the home, Babel said.

Babel called the suspect and his siblings "good kids" who went to school with her children.

Years later, the suspect moved across the street into the home he shared with Fradeneck and their two young children, Babel said.

"They were always out playing," Babel said of Celeste and Timothy. "They were always a good family."

Both children had birthdays coming up this month, McNeilance said.

Wesley Schwamb, 52, said he often saw the suspect working in the yard while his children played.

"He was always outside cutting the lawn," said Schwamb, who lives across the street and a few houses down from the home. "I know he worked a lot."

Schwamb said he witnessed the suspect get into an altercation around a year ago with a neighbor playing loud music.

"The guy had a hot rod with the radio blaring," he said.

Aside from that altercation, Schwamb said he saw no indication of trouble in the family. "I've never seen them argue outside," he said.

Neighbors in shock

Next-door neighbor Melanie Parkins, 35, said she was at work Monday when she heard about the slayings. She returned home to a police presence that remained into early Tuesday.

"They were all here until 3:30 in the morning," she said.

Parkins said she has lived in her home for around two years, and often saw the family in passing.

"Everybody is just shocked," she said. "(Fradeneck) was just so full of life."

JeQuita Breham was returning home from the store when she noticed the activity. She and her daughter initially thought a bicyclist might have been struck. When learning it involved a triple slaying, the Detroit Public Schools worker burst into tears.

"I never actually would have imagined something like this happening," Breham said. "It's generally quiet here."

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Detroit News Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed.