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Polk woman who said she stabbed husband while slicing pizza charged with murder

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Rachael Fidanian spun many a tale about how her husband was "accidentally" stabbed and killed in June. She was charged with his murder Wednesday. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Rachael Fidanian spun many a tale about how her husband was "accidentally" stabbed and killed in June. She was charged with his murder Wednesday. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
Published Oct. 11, 2018

On a Monday morning in June, Rachael Fidanian woke up, cooked a frozen pizza, ate half, then stabbed her husband to death when he got off the couch, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Following more than three months of investigation, Fidanian was arrested Wednesday and faces a charge of second-degree murder in her husband's June 25 death. At the time, Fidanian said the stabbing was accidental. Authorities, however, said her story changed every time she told it and a medical examiner ultimately ruled the death a homicide.

Most of the changing stories involved Fidanian holding a dog in one arm and a six-inch filet knife in the other, then her slipping and four inches of the blade ending up just under the left side of her husband's chest.

"The suspect made a lot of excuses, but none of them made sense," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "Our detectives did a thorough investigation. In the end, they determined this was an intentional act of domestic violence."

At about 9:30 on the morning of June 25, 38-year-old Fidanian called 911 saying she had accidentally stabbed her husband, 40-year-old Bryant Fidanian. When Polk County Fire Rescue arrived at the door to their home on West Wheeler Road in Lakeland, Rachael Fidanian stood naked with a knife at her feet. The explanation she gave paramedics was the third version of her now-debunked story, the Sheriff's Office said.

According to a news release, Fidanian first told the 911 operator she was holding her dog while doing dishes, then ran to her husband, slipped and accidentally stabbed him. In the same call, she said she was slicing pizza with the knife while also holding her dog, went to talk to her husband, tripped and stabbed him.

The story got more involved when paramedics showed up.

Fidanian still said she was slicing a pizza, but not holding the dog. This time, the dog had defecated and she tripped and fell into her husband as she went to clean it.

When Fidanian talked to detectives, her story became more involved, according to her arrest report.

Fidanian told detectives she cooked the pizza for her and her husband around 8 a.m. while he slept on the living room couch. She ate half and went to slice the other half for her husband when she heard her dog whimpering outside. Fidanian said she was still holding the knife when she saw the dog through a sliding glass door, covered in feces. She brought it inside as it continued to urinate and defecate.

She told detectives she asked her husband for help. As he got off the couch, the two walked toward each other, then she tripped on an area rug and fell forward, stabbing her husband, Fidanian told investigators. In another version, the area rug became a towel.

No evidence of urine or feces was found in or around the house and no rug or towel was in the living room, according to the arrest report. Detectives said she attempted to show how she picked the dog up and couldn't do so with both hands, let alone one arm. Her story, detectives said, was determined to be a lie.

"Mrs. Fidanian attempted to demonstrate how she was holding her dog, for example, but she was unable to pick it up," Sheriff's Office spokesman Brian Bruchey said. "Ultimately, detectives determined none of her explanations were plausible."

Bryant Fidanian was taken to a nearby hospital where he died from the stab wound. An autopsy revealed his pulmonary artery was punctured after being stabbed in the second rib on his left side.

Paramedics also noted a bruise around Rachael Fidanian's left eye. Investigators said she couldn't stick to a story about how it got there. First, she said her dog head-butted her. Later, she told investigators her husband accidentally elbowed her in the eye while they both tried to pick the dog up.

Investigators asked about her relationship with her husband.

"The suspect stated the two of them did not yell at each other, fight, nor have they ever walked out on each other during arguments," Fidanian's arrest report said.

According to the Sheriff's Office and 911 calls, that, too, was a lie.

The Sheriff's Office said it had responded to seven service calls at the Fidanian home since September 2016. Three were hang-ups, three were disturbance calls where no crime was found and one led to Bryant Fidanian's arrest for aggravated battery when he broke his wife's arm in 2016.

Witnesses also said the couple fought more than Rachael Fidanian led on. Neighbors said they often heard yelling and screaming from the home. In one instance, a neighbor said, Rachael Fidanian chased after her husband, driving erratically as he walked away from the house. In another, a neighbor said she ran naked to their home, telling them her husband threatened her life. They let her in, but said she then started breaking and flipping over items in their house. She left and was later taken to Lakeland Regional Health under the Baker Act.

Rachael Fidanian is currently being held in Polk County Jail.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.

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