In November 1994, a beloved mother of three was gunned down outside her home in Texas. The case garnered much attention and suspicion mounted on the husband and the father of their children. The authorities then used phone records and witness testimony to uncover a sinister murder-for-hire plot that ended with Farah Fratta’s death. ID’s ‘Murder Calls: Deadlift’ cover the case of Farah Fratta, so we decided to dig into it.
How Did Farah Fratta Die?
Farah Fahmida Baquer was born in August 1961 in Surrey, England. She was described as a free-spirited woman who took great care of her children. At the time, Farah worked at American Airlines and had been married to Robert “Bob” Fratta, a police officer and a fireman, for about 11 years. They share two sons — Bradley and Daniel — and a daughter — Amber. However, the couple had been estranged, and Farah lived in Humble, Texas.
On November 9, 1994, the 33-year-old went out to get a haircut only to come back to her death. As Farah entered the garage and got out of the car, an unidentified gunman shot her in the head twice. As she lay in the garage, the suspect fled in a getaway car. A neighbor who saw it all unfold called 911 and reported the shooting. When the authorities arrived, they found Farah barely alive and rushed her to a helicopter to have her airlifted. Sadly, Farah died by then.
Who Killed Farah Fratta?
The neighbor told the police that she heard a pop and a scream, after which she saw Farah falling on the ground and heard another shot. At the time, Farah’s husband, Robert, had been at the local church with their three children. While the authorities knew two suspects were involved, they believed Robert had something to do with the murder. Farah had filed for divorce about two years before the incident, and the two had been going through a contentious custody battle with a hearing scheduled just weeks later.
Through friends of the couple, they learned that Farah was uncomfortable with certain things Robert wanted her to do sexually. Furthermore, a few months before Farah died, she was attacked by a masked man who used a stun gun on her at home. At the time, she believed Robert had something to do with it. During the investigation of Farah’s murder, her husband’s alibi was airtight as multiple people saw him at the church with his kids. Therefore, the authorities set out to gather evidence against Robert.
The authorities talked to a few people at the gym he worked out at. One of them, Mike Edens, stated, “He (Robert) said, ‘I’m gonna find a way to knock her off.'” He also told the authorities that Robert had allegedly asked him whether he knew someone who would kill his wife. The investigation revealed that the estranged husband had similar conversations with more than a dozen people.
Witnesses from the church told the police that while Robert was present there, he also stepped out often to make and receive phone calls. The records revealed that calls were being made to someone named Mary Gipp, who was initially not very cooperative. However, the police knew her boyfriend, Joseph Prystash, was an ex-con and worked out with Robert. After being given immunity from prosecution, Mary testified to what happened.
In what can only be termed baffling, Mary knew that Farah would be killed on November 9, 1994, but never called the police. She then testified that Robert hired Joseph to have Farah killed. According to the scheme, Joseph talked to his neighbor, Howard Guidry, who was about 18-years-old at the time. While Joseph was going to be the getaway driver, Howard was the triggerman and would get paid $1,000.
Regarding why she didn’t call the authorities, Mary later said, “I could have. I really just didn’t wanna deal with it, to be honest with you. You know, that sounds disgusting. But it’s easier just to not do anything than it is to confront it and say, ‘OK, this is going down.’ I didn’t want to be part of it.” In yet another perplexing development, Mary chose to write down the serial number of the gun used in the murder after it happened and yet again, didn’t call the police.
The serial number led the police to a gun traced directly to Robert. The firearm was in the evidence room because sometime after the murder, Howard used it in a bank robbery and was arrested for it. Furthermore, the authorities found $1,000 in Robert’s glove compartment on the day of the murder. Once Howard and Joseph were arrested, they admitted to their part and pointed to Robert as the mastermind.
Where Are Robert Fratta and Joseph Prystash Now?
At trial, both Howard and Joseph claimed their confessions were coerced and later recanted them. Despite that, Robert was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to death; the same fate awaited Howard and Joseph. About 13 years after Farah’s death, Robert’s conviction was overturned, but he was found guilty again and received the same sentence.
On the other hand, Howard was also awarded a new trial and convicted of the same crime for a second time. Since then, Robert and Joseph‘s appeals have been turned down. As per prison records, both of them remain incarcerated at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas.
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