Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Love Triangle Murder of Lt. Commander Fred Trayers

Trust is Broken


Danielle Robins at trial.
Danielle Robins at trial.
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.