BROOKSVILLE — Wilana Joenel Frazier doesn't let her kids play in the street anymore.
She's afraid to go out sometimes. Her family has received more than 100 angry letters in the past two weeks. Some racist, some vicious and some that threatened her life.
"You should have never been born," one person wrote. "Many of us hope you all rot in hell … you worthless piece of scum."
All of this because she's accused of doing something horrific. Something that's made her hated by people around the world. Something, Frazier insists, she didn't do.
The evening of June 10 at Hill n' Dale Park in Brooksville, Hernando County sheriff's deputies say, four children ages 9 to 17 witnessed Frazier beat a pair of kittens with a metal baseball bat and then allow her 8- and 5-year-old boys to continue the torture.
One of the kittens died at the bottom of a trash can. The other kitten, Dexter, is being cared for at Pet Luv Nonprofit Spay and Neuter Clinic.
Seven months pregnant, Frazier said she's having more contractions because of the stress. Her father hasn't called since the arrest because, she figures, he's ashamed.
"It's ruined my life," she said, sitting on her front porch Monday. "People look at me different now."
Frazier acknowledges being at the park but denies touching the kittens. About 1 p.m., her fiance, 28-year-old Willie Bates, went to play in a basketball tournament. Frazier avoided the heat and came to watch about 5 p.m.
Frazier said her sons and about 10 other kids saw a pair of kittens and ran off to play with them. Frazier approached the children and told her boys to leave the kittens alone because they could be diseased.
About 7 p.m., she left with her kids. Two hours later, she heard a deputy wanted to speak with her older son, so Frazier drove him over. When the two were interviewed, both denied harming the kittens.
Soon after, she was arrested on two charges of cruelty to animals and two charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Nearly 29,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that she be prosecuted to the law's fullest extent. Dexter's ordeal has caught the attention of readers around the world.
To Bates and Frazier and people who know her well, the accusations make no sense.
For one, Bates said, more than 50 people attended the basketball games that day. Surely, he said, many of them at the small park would have noticed a 5-foot-9 pregnant woman beating animals with a baseball bat.
A report released for the first time Monday said Frazier's 20-year-old cousin, Luequita Roberts, told deputies she also saw Frazier strike the kittens with her purse, kick them and throw them against a tree.
Bad blood, Frazier said, has existed between the two women for years. "She didn't see me kill no cat," Frazier said. "She was on the basketball court right there with me."
Frazier, who hopes to be a nurse one day, said she doesn't drink alcohol, doesn't do drugs and doesn't take any medication.
Neighbors and friends who have known her for years described her as quiet and kind, someone who seldom gets in trouble. Before her recent arrest, Frazier had a single resisting arrest without violence misdemeanor charge in 2007. Adjudication was withheld in the case.
Having known Frazier since she was a little girl, neighbor Desiree Waddy didn't believe the allegations. "I saw what the paper said and I was like, 'What?' " Waddy recalled. "It was shocking."
In recent months, Frazier has even helped care for Waddy's new Yorkshire terrier, 10-month-old Nemo, which Waddy ties to a bench on her front porch when she sleeps. When it rains or if it's too hot or if the dog's leash gets wrapped around a post, Waddy said, Frazier wakes her up or helps the dog on her own.
In fact, Frazier said she owned a pit bull named Dino for five years. After her arrest, she said, Animal Control officers took the dog away. She was crushed.
For Bates, none of the accusations against the woman he's dated for 10 years seems possible.
"Can you imagine how evil you've got to be to wake up one day and decide you want to kill a cat?" he said. "That's just like waking up and being a serial killer the next morning."
John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.