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Crime & Courts

‘Madcap’ killer husband was a ‘wild card’ and a ‘strange one’ – former workmates reveal

From Mintlaw to Mississippi murder trial: The former Aberdeenshire resident who swapped his life in the north-east of Scotland for the American dream that turned into a nightmare.
Bryan Rutherford
Convicted killer Wayne Fraser was a dishonest domestic abuser. Images: Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, Mississippi/Facebook
Convicted killer Wayne Fraser was a dishonest domestic abuser. Images: Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, Mississippi/Facebook

Nobody ever thought that “quiet loon” Wayne Fraser, who was nicknamed “sheepy” because of his curly hair, would leave Mintlaw Academy and go on to stand trial for murder abroad.

He had been a friendly face in the north-east, where he once worked at the local butcher’s on South Street and later secured employment in the oil and gas sector.

But when news of Fraser’s arrest started spreading online, people revealed on social media that he was a “wild card” and a “strange one”.

He’d previously snatched the opportunity of a contract for work in the deep south of America.

Missing in America and then sacked

But Fraser was soon sacked after he repeatedly failed to turn up for work during several weeks in 2008 and 2009, The Press and Journal has uncovered.

“About three or four weeks in, Wayne kind of disappeared,” a former colleague, who did not wish to be named, told The P&J.

“I think that was around the time that he met Natalie Ryan-Fraser. Wayne was missing for about two or three weeks. There was no contact and his contract was terminated.”

Wayne Fraser with wife Natalie Ryan-Fraser in T-shirts that read 'I love my chicken' and 'I love my monkey' respectively.
Wayne Fraser nicknamed Natalie Ryan-Fraser ‘chicken’ and she called him her ‘monkey’. Image: Facebook

The man, who’d first met Fraser in the 90s at a company in Ellon, described him as a nice, happy-go-lucky character and a helpful coworker.

But he also admitted that Fraser had an erratic side to him.

“He was always a wild card. He liked a bit of drugs, liked a bit of drink. He liked to have a full-on life – pretty much live now and worry later.” he said.

“He liked a party. He wouldn’t be in his room overnight but then turn up at four o’clock in the morning and get ready for work,” he explained.

During his time in Scotland, Fraser led a nomadic lifestyle, visiting places including Ardersier, Nairn and Nigg Bay in the Highlands, Methill in Fife, and Edinburgh – all for work as he stayed in bed and breakfasts and hotels.

Social media posts reveal killer’s rebellious side

Details of Fraser’s Facebook posts have also surfaced.

“He’s a big Donald Trump supporter,” The ex-workmate said, adding: “He posted a lot of rhetoric and propaganda.

“It wasn’t strictly violent. It was basically, ‘f*** the regime’ and stuff like that – things around ‘Trump will make America great again’.”

Mintlaw man was a gun fan

When Wayne Fraser gunned down his wife as she sat in her wheelchair, it wasn’t the first time that he’d fired a weapon in her presence – but it was her last.

The 47-year-old firearms fan had previously been snapped on camera during a visit to the San Angelo Gun Club in Texas.

He went there with his paralysed partner Natalie Ryan-Fraser, 55, who took a selfie surrounded by a revolver, handgun, assault rifle and ammunition.

Facebook images also pictured Fraser pointing one of the weapons at a gun target that later showed multiple bullet holes, some of them in the dead centre.

But there was nothing unusual about the experience.

Wayne Fraser and his wife Natalie Ryan-Fraser at San Angelo Gun Club in Texas.
Wayne Fraser and his wife Natalie Ryan-Fraser at San Angelo Gun Club in Texas. Image: Facebook

It was typical of the southern lifestyle that the Scots expat had shared with his wife since 2014, when he tied the knot with Natalie.

“We talked about God, guns and her love for the United States Marine Corps,” former Angelo State University (ASU) student Karm Espinosa said about the ASU professor.

However, a month later, the senior instructor of the uni’s Department of English and Modern Languages – a gun owner herself – was dead.

Fraser’s unpredictable nature and drunken temper proved to be the fatal cocktail to end almost 10 years of marriage with a bang.

Wayne Fraser fired his wife’s gun at her neck

A single 9mm bullet was blasted from a gun that Natalie owned straight through her neck, piercing all the way out the other side.

To her shock, the person behind the trigger was her intoxicated spouse, with whom she had also been drinking before the horrifying attack at 2am on December 30 2021.

But the truth about what really happened in the Cedar Street apartment in the Mississippi town of Caledonia only emerged in a US courtroom 20 months later.

Fraser went on trial for first-degree murder – a charge he denied – and an ambitious prosecutor began to untangle his web of lies in front of a jury that convicted him of the less serious offence of manslaughter.

Emails and photos proved Fraser had been abusing Natalie

When asked about Fraser’s character, District Attorney Scott Colom told The Press and Journal that the evidence against him spoke for itself.

“Emails between them show that he had been committing domestic abuse against her and photos that she had showed evidence of domestic abuse – black eyes; bruises on her face,” Mr Colom explained.

Testimony from the State Medical Examiner’s Office and digital forensics evidence were Fraser’s undoing.

Murder accused Wayne Fraser sees his dead wife's wheelchair as it's shown to the jury in his trial in Mississippi.
Murder accused Wayne Fraser sees his dead wife’s wheelchair as it’s shown to the jury during his trial at Lowndes County Court House in Mississippi. Images: WCBI

Science and data were at odds with the several different false accounts that the industrial painting and coating foreman had told police and Natalie’s grieving family.

He’d told Sheriff’s deputies that the pair had been playing with the gun when it was accidentally discharged but he’d also phoned one of his victim’s brothers and claimed that his sibling had shot herself.

“He told law enforcement she was killed at 2am,” Mr Colom remarked, adding: “That was very suspicious.

“He had waited five hours to contact anyone and tell them what happened instead of calling 911 right away.”

District Attorney Scott Colom during the trial in Mississippi, alongside an image of Natalie Ryan-Fraser with her killer husband Wayne Fraser.
District Attorney Scott Colom, left, and Natalie Ryan-Fraser with her killer husband Wayne Fraser. Images: WCBI/Facebook

There were just too many inconsistencies supported by the testimony that the Lowndes County Court House jury just couldn’t ignore.

News of their verdict of guilty to culpable negligent manslaughter reached Scotland late on Friday night.

But not everyone has been convinced of Fraser’s guilt.

‘Very out of character…he always spoke highly of Natalie’

Another ex-colleague, who worked with him offshore in the North Sea, said he was “very shocked” when he first learned of the horrific incident.

He said: “Wayne was a decent guy and it’s totally out of character. I don’t actually believe he’s done it, to be honest – you just don’t know, I suppose.”

The man from Aberdeen, who did not want to be named, added: “It’s very out of character for him. He always spoke highly of Natalie.

“He obviously loved her, that was very clear. He lived very much for the here and now, not later.”

Fraser, who some recall meeting when he attended Banff and Buchan College, has begun a 20-year-long jail term.

However, he has the automatic right to appeal his conviction and may only serve half of his sentence in prison before being eligible for early release into the community under the strict conditions of parole.

Natalie lived a life of tragedy

Natalie Ryan-Fraser’s life was plagued by tragedy.

First, she was confined to a wheelchair at the age of 17, following a drink-driving car crash that left her paralysed.

Then three years later, Natalie’s divorced mum died when she was run over by a truck being driven by the mother’s drunk boyfriend.

He was briefly jailed for criminally negligent homicide.

Natalie Ryan-Fraser.
Natalie Ryan-Fraser has been described as “funny and kind”. Image: Facebook

At the time when Fraser slayed his helpless wife, Natalie had travelled 750km from their home in San Angelo, Texas, to visit her husband, who was working part-time in Hamilton, Mississippi.

The day before Fraser unexpectedly snuffed out Natalie’s life, they’d enjoyed a meal for two at a steakhouse and sushi bar.

Romantic Natalie – who called Fraser her “monkey” – checked the pair in on Facebook, posting: “Dinner with my love”.

But it was to be Natalie’s last-ever Facebook post as she spent her final moments with the man with whom she’d vowed to spend the rest of her life.

Wayne Fraser wasn’t a memorable person when he was a free man, making few – if any – significant or long-lasting impressions on anyone he met throughout his life.

But now, no one will ever be able to forget him for what he did to poor Natalie, the woman he had affectionately nicknamed his “chicken”.

Read more about how Wayne Fraser could serve only half his jail time:

Read more about the prosecutor who untangled the killer’s web of lies:

Read more about how Wayne Fraser avoided going down for murder:

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