Lake County coroner denies allegations she vandalized Hobart apartment, car of husband

2013-03-05T20:00:00Z 2013-03-06T13:11:05Z Lake County coroner denies allegations she vandalized Hobart apartment, car of husbandDeborah Laverty and Bill Dolan Times Staff Writers

HOBART | Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey denies allegations by her estranged husband she has vandalized his apartment and car.

"She denied doing it or having anyone else do it," Hobart police Lt. David Grissom said Tuesday after questioning the coroner about accusations of her involvement in a broken window last month at her estranged husband's residence or damage to his car's tires the prior month.

"I will never do anything improper," Frey told The Times. She said she and her husband are both under the strain of a troubled marriage. Court records show she filed for divorce Jan. 18 in Lake Superior Court.

Grissom said police have closed both cases without filing any criminal charges.

"It's an unfortunate thing with divorces when people don't get along. Divorces are messy. At this point there is no evidence that she broke the law," Grissom said.

William Frey, an eye doctor, declined comment Tuesday.

Police said William Frey twice called them to investigate alleged mischief.

He reported to police Jan. 14 an employee at his medical office saw Merrilee Frey inside at a time the office should have been locked. William Frey reported he found the tires of his 2005 Honda Pilot, parked outside his apartment, flattened the same day and suspected Frey's involvement.

Police said Merrilee Frey told them she had entered the office at the advice of her attorney to remove personal belongings from it.

Merrilee Frey said Tuesday she didn't know the woman was an employee of her husband's business at the time and told the woman to leave because she felt uncomfortable with the woman being there.

"I'm part owner and have every right to be there. That's why I was in my office. It's a marital asset we purchased after our marriage," she said.

In another alleged incident, William Frey told police he was getting out of his apartment's shower Feb. 6 when he heard someone knocking on his back door and heard Merrilee Frey yelling.

William Frey told police he then heard glass breaking and told Merrilee Frey he was going to call police. He told police he saw his estranged wife get into her coroner's office-issued black Ford Explorer and leave the area, police said.

Police said the outer pane of a window was shattered and a 1-gallon paint can was laying below it at William Frey's residence.

Merrilee Frey said she hadn't heard of the broken window until this week and denied knowing anything about it. She said the false accusations are a product of their marital unhappiness.

"I filed for (marriage dissolution) myself, but I haven't given up on my marriage. I pray that he comes around. At the same time, I'm doing the best I can to help him understand that he needs to do what's best for our family too," she said.

Frey is a forensic nurse who headed the Lake Circuit Court's domestic relations services for more than a decade before becoming county coroner in September.

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