PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Travis Frink’s life was often in a state of turmoil.
The 48-year-old Frink – who stands accused of gunning down his elderly mother in a New Hampshire hospital – was embroiled in a bitter divorce that spanned nearly a decade, saw his wages routinely garnished for child support, hopped from job to job as a computer engineer and would sometimes lose custody of his children.
But friends who spoke to Target 12 – some who asked not to be named – also painted a picture of a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine and taught a specialized form of martial arts out of the basement of his Warwick home.
“For the record, he was not a violent person as we knew him,” a friend said in an email. “We knew that his divorce had been drawn out and stressful … [we] are trying to wrap our heads around this tragedy and are still in a bit of shock.”
Court records show Travis Frink married Kathleen Ide in Exeter in November 1997. They had three sons together before Travis filed for divorce in 2004. Documents show Travis was awarded temporary custody of the children while the case labored through family court.
At one point, Kathleen Frink filed a “motion for guns and other weapons to be removed from home and other relief.” She claimed she feared for her husband’s mental health and asked that “the guns, pistols, swords, hunting knives, ammunition and other weaponry be removed from the marital domicile and stored appropriately.”
Travis fought back against the order, but the divorce case was ultimately dismissed. The peace apparently did not last long as the pair filed again for divorce in 2006.
The courts ping-ponged custody of the children to mom and dad over the years, and even gave the sons to Kathleen’s mother for a time. Meanwhile, the thick family court file revealed Frink would see child support payments forced from his paycheck. Kerri White, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Child, Youth and Family Services confirmed the agency got involved in attempting to gather child support payments from Frink in 2014.
A former coworker said Frink worked at IBM and Stanley Bostich in East Greenwich and described Frink as “a very smart guy and knew his stuff.”
“I never heard him yell or raise his voice, it amazes me,” said Jerry Trust, who now lives in Florida. “I never saw any kind of anger issues and [he was] overall a very nice guy.”
Another friend said Frink served in Japan and the Philippines as a Marine and “It was in Japan where he first trained formally in martial arts and earned a black belt in karate.”
Military records confirm Frink was a Marine until 1993 when he left at the rank of corporal.
In 2010, years after Frink and his wife had divorced – but were still battling out custody and child support in court – Kathleen had another son. A family court file shows Travis was not the biological father of the child.
Then in August 2013, Kathleen and the child, Ryan, were discovered dead in a hot car parked at the Fairfax Apartment Complex in Warwick. A spokesperson for the Warwick police said foul play was ruled out and the mother’s cause of death was heat and acute alcohol intoxication. Police would not release the child’s cause of death, but at the time authorities said people heard the child crying in the car at 5 p.m., yet police weren’t called for another three hours. By then, it was too late.
On Wednesday, Travis Frink pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in a New Hampshire courtroom and was ordered held without bail. He is accused of shooting his mother, 70-year-old Pamela Ferriere of Groton, New Hampshire, as she lay in the intensive care unit of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon on Tuesday. A criminal complaint said Frink removed a handgun from a bag prompting his mother to scream before he allegedly shot her.
A spokesperson for the Warwick Police said they were asked by N.H. State Police to do a well-being check on the children at the Frink’s Hoxsie Ave. home one hour after the incident. Authorities say the sons are now staying with a relative.
Frink’s uncle, Thomas Frink of Moosup, Connecticut, said Ferreire divorced her husband decades ago and remarried. He declined to comment further.
For the children, the murder of their grandmother and arrest of Frink may be another stunning blow in a tumultuous upbringing. Having already lost their mother and brother four years ago, they may lose their father to prison if prosecutors in New Hampshire successfully prove their case.
Like many, those who knew Travis Frink are searching for answers one day after the shocking crime locked down a major hospital in New Hampshire for hours.
“He’s a good guy,” a friend said in an email. “I don’t understand why he did what he did yesterday.”
Tim White ( email@example.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on FacebookDiana Pinzon contributed to this report